Most Improved New Car: 2016 Smart Fortwo

If there was an award for the car that was “most improved” by a fresh redesign, there is no question who would be winning it this year: the award for most improved new car would go to the all-new, all-different, 2016 Smart Fortwo.

 

2017 Smart ForTwo


2016 Smart Fortwo

That most improved award would come, in part, because the old Fortwo was an objectively terrible little shitbox of a thing. I spent a few thousand miles driving both the coupe and cabrio versions back in 2008-2010, myself, and can personally attest to its horrible-ness … but that was part of the appeal of the last Fortwo.

Sure, it was awful, the way it lurched viciously between 1st and 2nd gears. It was scary, the way it was blown around in its lane on the open highway. It was disappointing, the way it gave back kind of crappy fuel economy, considering everything you were giving up. It was annoying, the way its best trick- parking headlong into a parallel parking space so two Smarts could fit in 1 space- would net both you and your parking buddies expensive tickets. Yes, the “old” Smart Fortwo was a bit of a let-down.

It was, however, a letdown that didn’t take itself too seriously. The all-new Smart Fortwo, though? This is a car that is definitely not a letdown!

I’ll grant you that the low bar set by the car’s predecessor may have helped, but it’s not just that. The new Smart Fortwo is just a bit quicker and faster than you think it’s going to be, for example. It corners just a bit more sharply than you might expect, too, and- on the long, 7 hour, round-trip highway drive from Chicago and Springfield, IL, it was more comfortable and more stable than anything with such playful styling has any right to be.

Of course, as soon as we got it back to Speedriven I threw it on the lift to see what was going on underneath the little car’s bulbous flanks …

 

Under the New Smart Fortwo


From underneath, the moose-avoiding rear suspension looks much more sorted on this newest Fortwo- and the 89 HP turbocharged 3 cylinder seems, from the outside, to be capable of delivering a little bit more power, despite the tiny exhaust system. Maybe the Brabus version will push output close to the 100 HP mark?

Too soon to tell on that front, but I did see significantly better than the car’s claimed 39 MPG HWY fuel economy rating on my one long drive. Keeping the speedo at a steady 62 MPH cruise helped, no doubt, but I got a fairly consistent 42-ish MPGs out of the Smart (just over using the car’s onboard computer, and just under doing a quick calculation at the pump). Nothing spectacular, to be sure, but better is better, you know?

In any event, whether or not the Smart Fortwo makes dollars and sense (it doesn’t) isn’t the point. The car is a great toy, and if something like a McLaren P1 is a superbike on four wheels then try to think of the Smart as a Vespa on four wheels. If you look at it that way, its shortcomings become quirks, its oddness becomes appealing, and its relative uselessness can be seen in more of a “I got a puppy!” light. In other words: give it a try, you might like it!

 

Original content from Gas 2.

 

Jo Borrás

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, out on two wheels, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.