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STYLING | 8 out of 10
street-legal Tonka toy
the little rollerskate attracts a lot of attention
flashy styling and clever packaging
No doubt about it: This car generates more interest among observers than some that cost 10 times as much
On the street or in traffic, the 2012 Smart Fortwo appears to be almost as wide as it is long, and appears slab-sided. It's taller than other minicars or subcompacts, and it looks its shortest from the side, when its non-existent nose is most obvious. At 9 feet long, it's the shortest car sold in the United States.
A silver or black slash outlines the structure of the car, starting at the windshield post, running along and roof rail and down the thick rear pillar to the doorsill. The contrast outlines the opening of the long doors, and draws attention to the tiny car--both the positive and the negative kinds.
There are two models of 2012 Smart Fortwo: a two-door fixed-roof coupe, and a Cabriolet with a pair of removable roof panels that give the wind-in-the-hair experience while retaining the structural integrity of the base vehicle. The Cabriolet uses removable roof bars that stow neatly in a compartment in the tailgate, making them the modern-day equivalent of 1970s T-tops.
Smart has discontinued its most aggressive Brabus model, but a number of its appearance features--including larger 15-inch alloy wheels--can be ordered as options. Several of them are bundled together in the Style Package, which includes six-spoke alloy wheels, body panels in a choice of metallic colors, and fog lamps.
Inside, the dashboard was restyled last year, bringing the Fortwo from the late 1990s into the current decade with some matte metallic finishes, an updated steering wheel design, and new shapes for the dash and door trims. You'll still not mistake the Fortwo for a luxury car by any stretch of the imagination.
The 2012 Smart Fortwo will draw more attention than some of the most striking luxury and supercars, most of it around its tiny 9-foot length.