2016 Smart

33 city/39 highway
0.9 liter, 3-cyl turbo, 89 HP

For 2016, Smart (a division of Mercedes) has an all-new version of its two-seat Fortwo. If you’ve driven the old (2008-2015) Smart—a dubious honor—you’ll be pleased to know that the new one is improved in every way. But a two-seat microcar still has some practical limitations.

By Aaron Gold

Ten Things to Know About The 2016 Smart ForTwo


The Smart Fortwo is just 8.8 feet long—more than three feet shorter than the Chevrolet Spark, which itself is so tiny that it’s practically imaginary. The Smart was designed for parking in medieval European city centers; here in the US, where parking spots tend to be a uniform size, that’s not much of an advantage. But it can make incredibly tight U-turns, and we had a lot of fun (more than we’d care to admit) turning the Smart around in the smallest of streets.


The Fortwo seats only two people (hence it’s name), but as tiny as it is, it’s rather roomy inside. The new version is 4” wider than the old car, which means you won’t constantly be rubbing elbows with your passenger. You can get it with bright upholstery colors like orange or blue-and-white, or in more subtle black-and-white and all-black color schemes.


The Smart’s interior features an easy-to-use gauge layout and storage spaces that are plentiful but small. Unfortunately, there’s no good place to put your elbows—there are no center armrests and the door panels are made of hard, unyielding plastic.


This being a tiny car, it has a tiny engine (a 0.9 liter three-cylinder; most small cars have a 1.4- to 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine). Though we didn’t have any trouble keeping up with traffic, the Smart Fortwo is a bit slower than most small cars (though far quicker than the old model Smart). Thanks to a power-boosting device called a turbocharger, the engine puts out 89 horsepower. That’s less than most small cars, but then again the Smart is less car than most small cars!


If you’ve driven the previous-generation Smart, you probably remember its herky-jerky transmission, which subjected its driver to long pauses during acceleration as it shifted gears. The 2016 Smart Fortwo has a new type of automatic transmission (it’s known as a dual-clutch transmission, and its the same type used by Porsche) that shifts like an ordinary automatic, though it’s still a bit slow to get going from a stop. You can also get your Smart with a 5-speed stick-shift. It’s quicker off the line and makes driving the car a lot more fun.


You’d expect great fuel economy from the a car this tiny, but thanks to its blocky and not-very-aerodynamic shape, the Smart’s fuel economy isn’t any better than a four-seat subcompact. The EPA rates the Fortwo at 33 MPG city/39 MPG highway for the automatic and 32/39 for the manual, and to make matters worse, the Smart runs on expensive premium (high-octante) fuel. One bright spot: The tiny 8.7 gallon fuel tank makes for (relatively) inexpensive fill-ups.


The Smart Fortwo’s 12.2 cubic foot trunk provides enough space for groceries and gym bags, but not big suitcases. Unlike most cars, the Fortwo has its engine in the rear, under the trunk floor. During our day-long test drive, the trunk floor got very warm—potentially warm enough to melt frozen groceries.


Small, light cars can be a challenge to drive on windy days, so Mercedes (which owns Smart) has fitted the Crosswind Assist system from their big vans. If you’re driving faster than 50 MPH and a gust of wind hits the Fortwo, this electronic system will help keep the car in its lane.


Pricing for the Smart Fortwo starts at $15,400, which includes air conditioning, power steering, power windows and a stereo (all things that were missing from the old base-model Fortwo). Options include a large (non-opening) sunroof and a navigation system. Pile on enough options and the Fortwo will run well over $20,000.


There are several four-door, four-seat cars that cost less than the Smart Fortwo, such as the family-sized Nissan Versa, the cute-and-cuddly Chevrolet Spark, the amazingly practical Honda Fit, and the super-frugal Mitsubishi Mirage. And if you want the best possible fuel economy, you’re better off with the (somewhat more expensive) Toyota Prius C.

Final Thoughts

The Smart is cute and it has great novelty value—those tiny U-turns are big fun. It's great for places where parking is a problem, but aside from that, its advantages are few.

Park-anywhere size, amazing maneuverability.

Cute styling, bright interior colors.

Premium fuel requirement makes it more costly to run than most small cars.

Fun to Drive

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2 Responses to “Smart Fortwo”

  1. Jim says:

    “There are several four-door, four-seat cars that cost less than the Smart Fortwo, such as the family-sized Nissan Versa, the cute-and-cuddly Chevrolet Spark, the amazingly practical Honda Fit.

    Incorrect. 2016 Honda Fit starts at $15790.00

  2. Panagiotis says:

    I believe that the 8th bullet is a great improvement not only for the Smart cars. Everyone who has driven a small car, has in the back of his mind when speeding over 60 km with windy weather conditions. Safety comes first!

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