Sometimes recommending a car can be incredibly difficult. The smart fortwo is easy. There is one pre-qualifying question to answer; can you live with a two seat city car? If the answer is yes then read on. If it’s no, then the stretched four seat forfour and Renault Twingo twins are well worth a look.
The smart fortwo has always been an acquired taste but many of the engineering rough edges have been smoothed away over three generations of development. In particular the terrible automated manual gearbox, which was enough on its own to discount the smart, has finally been banished and replaced with a proper 5-speed manual, or a new dual clutch 6-speed auto.
Production of the fortwo has been retained at Smartville in France despite Renault taking over responsibility for screwing the related forfour and Twingo together in Slovenia. It all feels authentically smart inside too with a funky, high quality interior and suitably wacky colour combinations on offer. The dashboard covering deserves particular praise; the sports shoe style fabric is probably very cheap to make but really lifts the interior and is much more interesting than the swatches of plastic normally found in this class.
Substantial progress has also been made with the ride quality which is the best yet. However you can’t defy the laws of physics, and over repeated bumps taken at speed the very short wheelbase does mean that the baby smart can feel like a skimming stone. It is usually more of a sensation than a total aeroplane moment but it does mean that the fortwo requires concentration and a surprising level of commitment to drive quickly.
Back in the every day world the incredible turning circle of just 6.95 metres is a boon, and there is surprising boot space on offer – with 260-350 litres available it can compete with cars two classes bigger. We also particularly like the Range Rover-style split fold hatch which allows you to open the glass section independently so you can cram things into the boot without fear of them falling out when you open the hatch, maximising load carrying ability.
The fortwo is very cleverly designed making it far more practical than you might think and it is ideally suited to the urban environment thanks to its size and manoeuvrability. The only real downside is the price; the fortwo has always been expensive and this iteration is no different, but it does offer something unique.