There are a few awesome things about driving a Smart Fortwo. Occasionally a beautiful woman will point at your microcar from across the street, and you can watch her mouth “Smart car! Sooo cute!” from inside the snowglobe-like windshield.
And there is an intense satisfaction to be had in piloting the Fortwo into a space on the street that’s roughly the size of Dom DeLuise, while strangers stare slack-jawed at your parallel parking prowess. Those are the highlights. But there are plenty of tradeoffs. Its brakes are capable but grabby and lack modulation. The five-speed automatic transmission lags annoyingly. And while you can get the Fortwo up to 90mph on the highway, between the clattery handling and the loud, raspy, one liter engine, you’ll start sticking to the slow lane.
When Smart launched the car in the states in 2008, they managed to prove that the two-seater was both safe (4/5 IIHS stars in a front-side crash) and more spacious for the passengers than “normal sized” compact cars (over 45 cubic feet.) But it’s hard to imagine a guy that would rather drive this rather than a much more sporty, and almost as cheap Ford Fiesta—which has a backseat, and can, if its driver has had some practice, jam into a spot that’s almost as insanely small. Almost.
2010 Smart Fortwo
Price: from $11,990
Engine: 1.0-liter, three cylinder
Torque: 68 lb.-ft
0-60: 12.8 sec