The smart car arrived on our shores after what seemed like an eternity since its inception. More than 770,000 first generation (1998-2006) smart cars were sold in 36 countries globally. smart is a member of Mercedes-Benz Cars. smart fortwo The U.S. became the 37th country to offer the innovative vehicle designed specifically for two people. The diminutive vehicle is made in France and is of Lilliputian proportions. It is only 8.8 feet long, 5.1 feet wide and 5.1 feet high. It tips the scales at 2,094 pounds in the heaviest model. The newest family member is the 2017 smart fortwo cabriolet.
smart fortwo comes in two forms: Coupe and Cabrio , the latter featuring a fully automatic, two position convertible soft top with heated glass rear window and soft top that recedes and closes electrically at speeds up to 60 mph at the touch of a button in 12 seconds. The new smart cabrio is capable of transforming from a closed two-seater into a car with a large sliding canvas sunroof, or a full-fledged cabriolet with the soft top completely open. This flexibility offered by the “tritop” folding soft top and the removable roof bars is a special feature, making it the only true cabriolet in its vehicle class, and expanding the Mercedes-Benz product portfolio. Removing the side roof bars provides a full cabrio experience, and the roof bars may be stowed on the inside of the tailgate. This stowage compartment in the tailgate also offers additional stowage space for small items.
With an area of 19.4 sq-ft the “tritop” fabric soft top is approximately four percent larger than its predecessor. The outer covering is made of a lightfast polyacrylic fabric, while the inside features a polyester/cotton mix, and there is a rubber layer in the middle. The soft top has a total thickness of 0.8 inches.
The smart fortwo is “cute”, though I normally avoid describing any vehicle as such. Many refer to it as a “clown car”, while also suggesting wearing large red bulb noses when aboard. smart fortwo displays a futuristic Jetson-like stying, and despite its reduced dimensions, is surprisingly big on interior space along with comfort and features. It is definitive proof that good things really do come in small packages. The first impression registers as cute and sporty. The innovative two-material construction concept consists of a tridion safety-cell crafted from high-strength steel and colorful, interchangeable body panels made of premium, dent resistant plastic. Projection headlamps with indicators incorporated into them adds to the little car’s futuristic look. The front, which appears as if it might house the engine, does not. Nor does it provide trunk space. Storage for one’s personal gear is behind the seats above the transversely mounted rear engine that drives the rear wheels.
The smart fortwo cabrio is available in three trim lines: passion (standard), prime and proxy, and consumers may choose from an impressive list of safety and comfort features and equipment.
All rear-wheel drive smart fortwo models, except the electric drive version, are powered by a 0.9-liter, (89 cc), DOHC, 12-valve inline turbocharged 3-cylinder with electronic multipoint fuel injection that produces 89 horsepower at 5,500 rpm while developing 100 pound feet of torque at 2,500 rpm. The engine connects to a Twinamic Six-speed dual clutch automatic transmission ahead of the engine. The smart fortwo cabrio is capable of reaching an electronically limited top speed of 94 mph, or from 0-60 mph in 11.6 seconds. Let’s face it, it’s not a dragster folks. The smart fortwo cabriolet rides on 15-inch alloy wheels, staggered in width and tire size as standard fare, with 16-inh donuts optionally available.
I’ve now driven all examples of the smart fortwo – Coupe and Cabriolet, gasoline and electric-powered. My latest test vehicle was a smart fortwo cabriolet with a Hazel Brown metallic main body exterior and Black Tridion Safety panels with a Black cloth top. The interior was done in Charcoal and Black tones with satin silver painted trim accents. The base price was set at $18,900 while the final tally came to $23,650. after factoring in options, which included: the metallic body paint; Prime leather upholstery that was done in Charcoal and Black; smart phone cradle; armrest; dashboard-mounted instrument cluster; the six-speed Twinamic dual clutch transmission; JBL six-speaker sound system; Prime Package; Sport Package; and Destination Charge.
Several advanced assistance systems are available on the smart fortwo cabrio, including as standard fare, the latest-generation ESP® with Crosswind Assist and Hill Start Assist and optional forward collision warning.
SUMMARY: The 2017 smart fortwo cabrio Prime/Sport has a lot of things going for it – it is visually appealing to most observers, it’s economical, fun to drive, and it fits easily into minimal parking spaces (two will fit into a conventional parking space). Acceleration, while perhaps not considered blistering to some, is certainly more than adequate, and the automated manual transmission is now vastly improved over earlier examples that were similar to BMW’s SMG gearbox, with a bothersome lag between gear changes. The dual clutch type shiftable automatic transmission with the Sport Package paddle shifters is both efficient and FUN. At maximum freeway speed, crosswinds could before present cause for concern due to the car’s squared profile and short wheelbase, but a Crosswind Assist helps to offset negative stability issues.
The interior space and amenities are surprisingly plentiful and user friendly, and the ride quality is compliant enough, but it’s advisable to avoid severe potholes. The handling characteristics are athletically responsive and positive. Parking, though requiring less space as mentioned earlier, requires closer attention, because the exterior planes are difficult to judge, lacking outward reference points.
In the final analysis, the 2017 smart fortwo cabrio delivers on fun, practicality, fun, economy and fun.
Safety concerns are generally a major consideration given the size and construction, but after viewing several crash and roll-over test footage, smart fortwo came through the displayed tests with flying colors, bolstering enough confidence to entertain purchasing one personally. Kudos for the playful, futuristic appearance and appeal, the surprising amount of functional interior space and the easy Cabriolet top operation when underway. The gasoline powered smart fortwo cabriolet configuration is roughly half the price of the electric drive version, making gas the logical choice.
All smart models sold in the U.S. are covered by a four-year, 50,000-mile new vehicle limited warranty. All smart vehicles are designed to be 85% recyclable and over 95% reclaimable, and are produced in the environmentally oriented “smartville” factory in Hambach, France.
SPECIFICATIONS: 2017 smart fortwo Cabriolet
Base Price: $18,900.
Price as Tested: $23,650.
Engine Type and Size: 0.9-liter (89 cc), DOHC, 12-valve inline turbocharged 3-cylinder with electronic multipoint fuel injection.
Horsepower (bhp): 89 @ 5,500 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 100 @ 2,500 rpm
Transmission: Twinamic Six-speed dual clutch automatic.
Drive Train: Transversely-mounted rear engine / Rear-wheel drive.
Suspension: Front – Independent multi-link suspension with coil spring, double- tube shock absorber and tubular torsion bar
Rear – DeDion axle with coil springs and double-tube telescopic shock absorbers.
Brakes: Tandem servo-assisted dual-circuit system with front disc brakes and rear drum, with ESP, ABS, EBD, Brake Assist, Traction Control and Hill Start Assist.
Tires: Continental ProContact 185/50 R16-81H front / 205/45 R16 83 H rear mounted on 5-double-“Y”-spoke black painted alloy wheels.
Wheelbase: 73.7 inches
Length Overall: 106.1 inches
Width: 65.5 inches – w / mirrors
Height: 61.1 inches
Curb Weight: 2,094 lbs.
Turning radius: 22.8 ft.
Fuel Capacity: 8.7 gallons with 1.3 gallon reserve.
EPA Mileage Estimates: 33 mpg city / 38 mpg highway
Drag Coefficient: Not listed
0 – 60 mph: 11.6 seconds – Top Speed 94 mph, electronically limited.
• Styling – 4 Stars
• Performance – 4.5 Stars
• Ride and Handling – 4 Stars
• Utility – 3.5 Stars
• Comfort and Convenience – 4.5 Stars
• Economy – 4.5 Stars
• Value and Competition – 4 Stars
SUMMARY – 4.14 Stars
The 2017 smart fortwo cabriolet is a diminutive 2-person transport fit for Gulliver’s travels. It would serve well as an urban runabout or for short country jaunts.