2016 Smart ForTwo: First Drive Of European Version Page 2


Perhaps most fun of all was taking corners in the ForTwo.

Smart boasts that the ForTwo has the world’s smallest turning radius, and that's really useful when making a U-turn or even taking a sharp corner. You can plow into turns easily with the car’s light-but-accurate steering.

Our primary takeaway that day may have been just how much fun we had driving--especially since the outgoing Smart was known for its herky-jerky lurching power (except for the electric model).

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At best, you could call the previous generation of the Smart an underdog in America, and emphasizing the last three letters might not be a stretch.

Sure, its small engine was enough to get you around town, and it could fit into tiny parking spaces.

But the five-speed automatic transmission was unrefined, and the ride quality noticeably poor when we took it out on Los Angeles’s freeways.

2016 Smart ForTwo (European version) - First Drive, Barcelona, Nov 2014

2016 Smart ForTwo (European version) - First Drive, Barcelona, Nov 2014

Enlarge Photo

It also wasn't especially cheap; you could get a far more appealing and larger Mazda2 for about the same price. Nor was it exceptionally fuel-efficient for the tradeoffs you had to make.

And as it turns out, Smart engineers and executives were paying attention to reviews that highlighted those issues.

“We really focused on improving two main aspects,” Smart’s global head, Dr. Annette Winkler told us. “Ride comfort, and replacing that transmission.”

Once you get behind the wheel, it’s apparent that Smart understands that it is all-in in the North American market. If this vision of a city car is to take shape anytime in the near future, the 2016 ForTwo has to be dramatically better than the car it’s replacing.

We asked Dr. Winkler if she believed Americans would embrace the ForTwo when the best selling vehicles on U.S. include the Ford F-150 and Chevy Silverado trucks—not to mention even mid-size sedans such as the Toyota Camry—that are all far, far larger.

"We’re not looking to increase market share," she said without hesitating, "we want to increase city share.”

2016 Smart ForTwo (European version) - First Drive, Barcelona, Nov 2014

2016 Smart ForTwo (European version) - First Drive, Barcelona, Nov 2014

Enlarge Photo

Beyond the obvious locales like Manhattan and San Francisco, we suspect places like Brooklyn, Austin, and Portland, would make great Smart cities. No, we're not using the word "hipster" here.

If the 2016 Smart ForTwo is the brand’s vision of a microcar for urban environments, it may have a bright future in the U.S. after all. 

Check back for official pricing, fuel economy, and details on the electrically-powered Smart ForTwo, which is slated to arrive next year.

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