2012 Smart fortwo – The 2012 Smart fortwo got style, which creates its own appeal, but the hip urban persona of the Smart isn’t matched by the level of equipment and features it offers. It’s more like an early-Nineties economy car, with a mediocre audio system and unimpressive appointments. You may also see the the Smart Fortwo 2011 for your comparison. Smart integrated Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, navigation, and Internet radio into the car–though it requires a special cradle, installed at the dealer, to hold the smartphone that actually provides these capabilities.
The 2012 Smart fortwo pure level is so basic, it doesn’t even include a sound system. It does include keyless entry, a display showing the outside temperature, and a rear-window defroster. But we expect most buyers to pay for Passion, which adds better-looking alloy wheels, power windows, automatic climate control, and a panoramic roof. It also includes an AM/FM/CD sound system, though at speed you still won’t be able to hear much.
Special editions always move a few more units, and Smart has its share, most of them offering equipment from the discontinued Brabus performance edition. They always come with special paint colors, and typically bundle a navigation system, higher-performance audio, and alloy wheels, among other features.
The premium sound system kicks that up to four speakers, plus a subwoofer; it’s an option on Passion coupes, standard on the Cabriolet. Other options run the gamut, from cruise control and electric power steering–in our view, utterly superfluous–to air conditioning, heated seats, and fog lamps.There’s also a rain and darkness sensor to operate lights and wipers automatically.
The 2012 Smart Fortwo offers just one powertrain, a 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine developing 70 horsepower that transmits its power through a five-speed automated manual transmission. At city speeds (40 mph or below), the little Smart is easy to toss around town–not to mention park in the tiniest imaginable spaces. Around town, the engine feels peppy and the shifts keep the engine in its power zone.
The tight steering ratio lets you hustle the Fortwo around corners and from lane to lane as fast as any other motor vehicle on four wheels.
At speed, however, the Smart’s advantages in cities work against it in highway travel. The short length, quick steering, and minimal wheelbase create a busy, choppy, twitchy ride, and there’s not a lot of power left for emergency maneuvers. The Smart Fortwo is also susceptible to crosswinds, as well as ruts in the road and potholes and bumps.
The transmission may be the least pleasant one we know of in any production car, however. It shifts abruptly, and without an experienced foot modulating the acceleration, the car slams back and forth on its short wheelbase as power is suddenly cut and then restored. And acceleration times revert to the performance of economic cars from the 1980s. The 0-to-60-mph sprint takes an agonizing 13 seconds, for instance.
About the Author: