Despite lackluster, make that minuscule, U.S. sales, Daimler’s Smart car soldiers on in a period of lower gasoline prices and rising crossover and SUV deliveries. The 2016 model is all new from the wheels up, sharing parts with one of Europe’s most-loved small cars, the Renault Twingo. But is that enough to put it on the map here in the U.S.? Here are some impressions of the 2016 model.
2016 New for the smart fortwo…
What is the word on the street…
“Smart let us try the Fortwo in Barcelona, so we can report that it’s certainly suited to life in a congested European city. As for life outside of a congested European city, we’ll have to extrapolate — the entire event was conducted within the downtown area, and if we hadn’t sneaked off-route for a blast down a small stretch of urban freeway, we wouldn’t have gotten the thing out of third gear. We can’t think of any “drive” event at which we’ve spent more time sitting at red lights; at least Barcelona offers spectacular buildings and beautiful people to stare at.
We also had ample time to examine the Smart’s cabin, which is definitely improved. The new car’s electronic architecture comes mostly from the Renault side of the technical alliance, with the central touch-screen display and most of the switchgear lifted straight from the Clio. Material quality isn’t on a par with what you might expect from something in the Mercedes family; your fingers don’t need to travel far to find some greasy-feeling plastics. But it’s far better assembled than the last Smart, and the extra width translates directly into improved shoulder space. Two adults can sit next to each other without mingling their DNA.” — Car and Driver
“Assuming you, your passenger and all your stuff fit, the new ForTwo is a surprisingly entertaining driver. Smart exorcised the single-clutch manumatic from the old version and replaced it with a proper dual-clutch unit; there’s some of the same grabbiness at launch found on nearly all DCTs, but otherwise it fires off quick, satisfying shifts and makes the most of the robust three-cylinder turbo engine.
Despite its diminutive size, the Smart ForTwo legitimately earns some of its “premium” cred by being a relaxed, quiet freeway cruiser. The car has no trouble keeping up with expressway traffic and even has reserve power for passing, while tire and road noise are kept relatively at bay. Thanks to its high seating position and tall greenhouse, from behind the wheel the Smart feels less like a micro-car and more like a compact crossover — at least until you look in the rear view mirror and realize you’re driving one-third of a compact crossover. Speaking of mirrors, you’ll be using them a lot — the huge B/C pillar makes visual checks of your blind spot impossible.
The real fun is the low-speed handling, particularly in the Smart’s natural environment: congested city streets. Whipping the car through narrow gaps in traffic and performing almost single-lane U-turns, you begin to understand the car’s purpose in life. Slot the ForTwo into a motorcycle-size parking space and you almost … almost … forget (or at least stop caring) that you’re driving a high-top sneaker with wheels.” — Autoweek
“Smart is justifiably proud of the new car’s minuscule turning circle. The 4-inch increase in width allowed its engineers to provide deeper front fender wells for sharper wheel angles — they can now pivot to 45 degrees — for a turning circle of just 22.8 feet. With its 8.8-foot length, you can do a U-turn just about anywhere — or do complete 360-degree circles within the width of an average two-lane road. It’s one of the car’s genuinely grin-inducing factors. In urban traffic, it takes a while to get used to just how short the Smart really is — but once a driver learns the limits of the car’s bodywork, it can be maneuvered and parked like no other vehicle.
Handling overall is good; the car grips well on its 15- or 16-inch tires, which are still larger in the rear than in the front. But as a Smart engineer said, the car’s traction control is “rather strict,” and cannot be switched off. That’s to ensure that the ForTwo remains “fun to drive, but not beyond”– meaning that it tames potential misbehavior or over-steering from what is still a tall rear-engined car with a very short wheelbase and a pronounced rear weight bias.” — The Car Connection
“Our tester was also fitted with a seven-inch touchscreen (instead of the standard smartphone dock) that worked well along our route, as well as an optional adjustable tachometer/clock pod mounted atop the dashboard to the left of the standard TFT instrument display. We appreciated the supportive and adjustable seats, the sporty mesh dashboard trim, the spherical air vents and the simple climate controls that cleverly bridge the gap between cheap dials and costlier digital buttons with a magnifying glass sliding along a horizontal rule to set the desired temperature. Cargo capacity has increased incrementally as well, but a car as small as the Fortwo will still never be a top choice for hauling large items. However, Daimler claims a higher ratio of interior volume to exterior footprint than anything else in its diminutive class: measured from footwell to tailgate, the interior accounts for an impressive 75 percent of the car’s length.” — Autoblog
Credit = autonews.com