Smart ForTwo Passion Coupe Video Test Drive
Check out this Smart ForTwo Passion Coupe Review with Chris Moran. The Smart Fortwo is an all-new brand and model in the United States for 2008, sold at a select number of United Auto Group and Mercedes-Benz dealerships across the country. Introduction Revolution, dud or something in between? The 2008 Smart Fortwo could be any of these, but which one depends on how Americans respond to this long-awaited city car as it starts to trickle into dealerships around the country. The previous generation has sold more than 770,000 units in other parts of the world since 1998, appealing to urban customers who gravitated to its sky-high fuel economy and park-anywhere size. While most Americans have probably seen a Smart car, only time will tell how many pick one as their daily commuting partner. Not that it comes as a news flash, but the Mercedes-built Smart is small. Really small. It’s more than 3 feet shorter than a Mini Cooper and only a foot longer than an E-Z-GO golf cart. It seats only two people, with a fair-sized trunk above the rear-mounted engine. Yet that silver or black strip that loops around the Fortwo’s side is what differentiates this minicar from the E-Z-GO. Known as the Tridion safety cell, this cage of high-strength steel allows the Smart car to withstand impacts as well as or better than much larger cars. An impressive array of other safety systems — side airbags, antilock brakes, brake assist, stability control and traction control — add to its ability to thwart occupant injury. Plus, axles placed close to the passenger compartment provide additional protection in side impacts. Other markets get diesel and turbocharged gasoline engines, but the America-bound Fortwo will only come with a 1.0-liter three-cylinder gasoline engine. Saddled with 71 horsepower, this powertrain will be able to motivate the 1,804-pound Smart from zero to 60 mph in 14.1 seconds. The wonky five-speed automanual transmission found in the last Smart car has been replaced by an allegedly improved one, which makes us wonder how awful the predecessor was, considering the new car’s herky-jerky motions and extreme shift lag. After a quick drive, it will leave you wondering how it’s in any way superior to a traditional automatic or clutch-pedal manual. In total, the Smart has just enough pep around town, but it feels woefully lackluster (and a little worrisome) on the highway. But that’s a pretty good way to sum up the entire Smart Fortwo experience. For those who spend 90 percent of their driving time by themselves in traffic or meandering through congested city streets, the Fortwo makes sense (as long as they can put up with the wonky transmission). Its tiny dimensions make finding a parallel parking spot a relatively simple exercise — although the new model is now too long to be parked perpendicularly on the street. Also, speeds in the city should rarely get so high that the mere sight of a Navigator makes you pack the dashboard with statues of St. Christopher. But for those who routinely drive on the highway, the Fortwo just doesn’t make sense — even if it gets excellent gas mileage. A similarly priced subcompact will handle high speeds better; ditto the more expensive but greener Prius. The 2008 Smart Fortwo isn’t a good choice for most consumers, but for certain urban-based drivers, it’s most definitely worth consideration. Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options The 2008 Smart Fortwo is a two-seat, subcompact city car available in two body styles. The hatchback Coupe is offered in Pure and Passion trim levels, while the convertible Cabrio only comes in Passion. The base Pure comes with 15-inch steel wheels, keyless entry, leather steering wheel and electric rear window defroster. Power steering, air-conditioning, radio, power windows and alloy wheels are optional on the Pure. The Passion gets all those basic features, plus a panorama glass roof, sport steering wheel with shift paddles, power heated side mirrors and a CD player. The Passion Cabrio adds an upgraded stereo with MP3-compatible in-dash six-CD changer, along with a manually operated canvas roof. Passion options include partial leather upholstery and additional gauges. Powertrains and Performance The 2008 Smart Fortwo is powered by a 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine that produces 71 hp and 68 pound-feet of torque. Surprisingly, it requires premium fuel.
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