2008 Smart ForTwo

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2008 Smart ForTwo Review

Note: This review was created when the 2008 Smart ForTwo was new.

The Fortwo's small frame and cozy seating are good in city driving, but its sluggish power makes it impractical for the highway.

7.1

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 6.9
Performance: 6.0
Interior: 7.7
Safety: 8.9
Reliability:
This model has never been fully tested for reliability. Its overall score is being calculated without reliability.
N/A

Pros & Cons

  • Attention-grabbing design
  • Great for urban settings
  • Spacious cabin for its micro dimensions
  • High gas mileage numbers for the class
  • Awkward shifting from the automated manual transmission
  • Pricey considering its size and class
  • Safety concern for side-impact crashes
  • Premium gasoline recommended -- a rarity in this class
  • A two-year or 24,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty -- the shortest warranty in the class

2008 Smart ForTwo Overview

Just 106.1 inches long and only 60.71 inches tall, the brand-new 2008 Smart Fortwo's fun styling and good gas mileage has captured the attention of the auto industry. To most reviewers, the car is an adequate around-town ride if you live in a major metro area, but a not-so pleasant automobile for highway commuting. "If you name yourself L. L. Cool J, you'd better make sure the Ladies Love Cool James. … And if you name your car Smart, it'd better be a four-wheeled Ken Jennings," Automobile Magazine writes. "I'd have to say that the Smart lives up to its name, but only in the city. If you commute to work and park in a lot, then you're probably better served by a more conventional car." 

But some reviews note Smart drivers find the car is ideal for that lifestyle. According to a recent Washington Post feature, many SUV drivers are keeping their more fuel-hungry vehicles for highway driving, but have purchased a Smart for wheeling around town. 

Others note owning a Fortwo comes with several downsides (ungainly shifting from the automated manual transmission, the need to fuel-up with premium gasoline, or troubling crash safety test results to name a few), but still, the car's overall personality redeems it. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says, "Like a rambunctious puppy, the new smart fortwo micro-car can be as annoying as it is cute. But it soon worms its way into your affections." Given its good and bad, the Smart car scores midpack in both our small car and hatchback rankings.

The Fortwo is offered in three trims -- a base "pure" model, the "passion" coupe and the "passion" cabriolet. Mid 2008, Smart also announced a special edition Fortwo, called the limited two, which has a new paint finish that changes shades in different light. If you're interested in a hatchback, consider the Honda Fit. The MINI Cooper is another hatch design often compared to the smart, also available with a convertible trim.

  • "Smart is the fad du jour in the auto industry. Small size, novel looks, high mileage." -- Chicago Tribune
  • "The Smart shines like a beacon of carefree minimalism." -- Motor Trend
  • "It's winsome and fun and -- as I discovered -- a shameless chick magnet. But in the rapidly diversifying market you can get more car for less." -- Los Angeles Times
  • "There are plenty of more useful four- and five-seat subcompacts for the same price. But they won't make the same super trendy statement as the smart." -- Motor Week
  • "A tiny but sturdy, front-wheel-drive fuel sipper that conceivably could temper America's perplexing lust for large, consumptive cars and trucks." -- Washington Post
  • "Gas is up, green is in, and the extra-small two-door is a virtual billboard announcing one's willingness to sacrifice, beginning with a capital 'S.'" -- Seattle Times
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