Smart Research & Reviews

Overview & Reviews

Average Score

4.53/5 Average
264 Total Reviews
Make Overview:

Usually, Italian exotic sports cars are best at getting other motorists' attention when driving down the road. But the diminutive "Smart car," as many people refer to it, turns just as many heads. But in this case, a Smart is about fuel economy and efficiency, not performance.

Smart began in 1993 as a joint venture between Daimler-Benz and Swiss watchmaker Swatch, creating a company known as Micro Compact Car AG headquartered in Biel, Switzerland. (It would later move to Germany and be known simply as Smart.) Its "city cars" would feature the build quality and engineering expertise of Mercedes-Benz, while Swatch would contribute its funky design philosophy. The resulting two-passenger Smart City-Coupe was designed for a European urban environment, with a specific emphasis placed on fuel economy and parking ease. The City-Coupe could theoretically be able to park perpendicular in a parallel-parking spot. (The wheelbase is the width of most other cars, after all.)

Because it was such a tiny car, Smart created the "tridion" safety cell (the silver or black portion of the body) to assure the City-Coupe could withstand impacts from exponentially bigger vehicles. Made from three layers of steel reinforced at strategic points, the cell was designed to absorb and redistribute crash energy away from the vehicle's occupants. Side impacts are shielded by steel door beams and reinforced axles.

Daimler-Benz bought Swatch out shortly after the City-Coupe's introduction just as the Smart started to generate hype around the world for its revolutionary take on personal transportation. Initial sales began in nine continental European countries in 1998, and the car proved popular with consumers.

This success led to an eventual expansion of the Smart car brand with the introduction of additional Smart models, including the Roadster and Roadster-Coupe in 2003 and the Forfour sedan in 2004. Reaction to these model lines was lukewarm at best, however, as consumers found them to be overpriced. This failure led to a dramatic downturn in Smart's fortunes, eventually putting it on DaimlerChrysler's chopping block before CEO Dieter Zetsche saved it with a new business model built exclusively around the City-Coupe, which had been renamed Fortwo.

More than 770,000 units and 36 countries later, the second-generation Fortwo debuted in 2006. With only a slight size increase, the general look of the iconic city car remained, but the interior and often-criticized automanual transmission received significant changes and safety was improved. The biggest news, however, was that Smart would be expanding into the United States, where rising gas prices had shifted the market toward smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles. While there is no mainstream vehicle that embodies those two criteria better than the Fortwo, only time will tell if Americans who once laughed at Smart will embrace it the way Europeans and others around the world have.

User Reviews:

Showing 1 through 10 of 264.00
  • High SPM (Smiles per Mile) - 2008 Smart fortwo
    By -

    Comfort, fun to drive and all the elements under the Design heading, I would really give an 11!!! This car is really well thought out and well put together. Plenty of power to get onto highways and keep up with normal traffic at whatever speed. I have had a very new experience with it...buying a new car and after one month nothing broken or any mechanical failures. Once I got used to the manual transmission, it is kinda fun to drive whether in auto-mode or paddle shifters or stick. Im not really a convertible guy, but Im having a super great time with it on this car. Surprise, surprise, it even has a trunk...amazing!

  • A bit high strung! - 2009 Smart fortwo
    By -

    Very high on the cute factor. Really fun to drive with the top down. More interior room is more than expected for such a small car. Premium radio, not so much. Ditto with the A/C. I dont expect a CVT shift with a AM transmission, but Smartie has been in twice to the dealer in three months for very erratic auto shift patterns. Paddle/manual shifting works well.

  • Expected More - 2008 Smart fortwo
    By -

    Reading about smarts online I was very excited about the purchase. I had heard tales of astronomical fuel economy and how the EPA numbers were grossly overrated. After owning a smart for several months I can say that this isn’t the case. It only gets about 2-3 MPG better than the civic it replaced. It is much slower, doesn’t brake as well, doesn’t handle as well, and has far less room. The build quality is also dubious with minor trim pieces breaking or feeling very flimsy. For such a small car with such a small engine and so few amenities I feel it should get much better MPG. If you are buying this looking for an ultra fuel saver spend a few dollars more and get a civic/focus/corolla.

  • Stupid Car! - 2008 Smart fortwo
    By -

    Had issues from almost day 1. Went through a small puddle during rain storm - caused the passenger seat airbag light to go on. Has never turned off. Barely touch the key while its in ignition it will turn the engine off. Completely unsafe when you are driving. Had it happen a few times (dog touched it). Have repeated issue with the engine not wanting to go into gear, especially reverse. Dont want to even attempt to do a u-turn because it might not go into R and you are stuck in middle of road. Goes through phases. Works for a few weeks then it doesnt. Someone suggested rain might affect it. Battery dies often too. I live on an island & to ship it over costs $400. Have not seen dealer.

  • Two Year Update - 2008 Smart fortwo
    By -

    After two years, the honeymoon is over, but the marriage is still good. I adapted to the fussy transmission. A relaxed driving style works wonders. The ride actually improved with time. Winter driving is okay, but winter parking after a snowstorm is painful because the smart is so light. In the Summer, the AC occasionally blows hot air or the fan stops, and this is after the fan was replaced, a popular warranty fix, Ive been told. The driver side airbag cover popped a bit. Unsightly. But thats the extent of the bad stuff. Overall, the smart is still mostly a pleasure. Im 59" weigh in the high 200s and the car is comfortable and easy to enter and exit. The ragtop of choice.

  • They almost got it perfect - 2008 Smart fortwo
    By -

    Had this been a 10,000 car it would have been perfect, but not at 15 grand. Reliability = 1 star for obvious reasons - anybody who sells a car with the worst waranty in America (2 years) doesnt trust their own product. Performance is fine if you dont mind accelerating from 0-60 in 14 - 15 seconds. Certainly something Id deal with for 100 mpg (not even near what this car gets) Gas Mileage - were talking about pushing around a golf cart with a 1 liter engine, and 30-40 mpg on premium gas is all it gets? If this were a 10 grand car, and averaged 80 mpg Id have 2.

  • A car that keeps giving!!! - 2009 Smart fortwo
    By -

    Hello. Sept 2016, My car is a 2009. New in Sept of that year. Now 90k on it and still as good as the day I drove it off the lot. It becomes part of you. No other car in my 50 years of driving had done that!! It is just a fun car to drive in the city or on a long road trip.

  • A car that keeps giving!!! - 2009 Smart fortwo
    By -

    Hello. Sept 2016, My car is a 2009. New in Sept of that year. Now 90k on it and still as good as the day I drove it off the lot. It becomes part of you. No other car in my 50 years of driving had done that!! It is just a fun car to drive in the city or on a long road trip.

  • New Smart Car - 2008 Smart fortwo
    By -

    New Owner and love it! For a single person and my dog, this vehicle has met all my needs, even on the highway. The local driving to work and the stores make the local driving fun. The first trip on the highway was a big step and it exceeded my expectations dealing with the acceleration, wind, air conditioner running, big rig navigation, passing, braking, and just cruising. It is really a fun car and I actually feel safe driving.

  • Fun, but weak in power - 2008 Smart fortwo
    By -

    I have owned this for 2+ months, 2,300 miles. Take the reviews that are from new owners or "100 miles, just picked it up last week" with a grain of salt. Its a new car; of course they are going to love it. I am 64", #225. I have driven with a 66", #260 passenger. TONS of room. It has pep and we even climbed hills with it. You will not see acceleration records with it. But then again, it is not touted as a sports care. Contrary to what it was built for (city), I live in the country and really do like it. I have parked the Tahoe & use this for work: 30-50 mi round trip/day. Very comfortable for a little car. It gets you from pt A to pt B economically & relatively comfortably.

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