First Drive: Smart ForTwo Prime 90

The Smart ForTwo squeezes into city-centre parking spaces other cars can't reach
The Smart ForTwo squeezes into city-centre parking spaces other cars can't reach
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Everything here is new except the concept. This is Daimler’s vision for a super-small city car that makes urban driving – not to mention parking – as easy as it gets before you have to ditch a pair of wheels.

It’s exactly the same length than the previous Smart ForTwo, a gnat’s wing lower but a little over 10cm wider, which means the two seats can be set up directly side by side. The engine is at the back, which is also where you’ll find the driven wheels.

It’s all gone techno on the spec sheet, with bold colour combinations inside and out, as well as a big new media interface screen, which, controlled by touch, can be linked to a hefty hi-fi system from JBL.

With the stubbiest nose ever attached to a car, the ForTwo is a bit pug-like. But since pugs are cool, that’s fine. Smart has gone as far as it can down the fashion route, lining up two-tone paint schemes, vibrant fabric-covered dashboards and seats, and a selection of brave alloy wheel choices. It’s no shrinking violet, despite looking like it’s been tumble dried on too hot a setting.

As long as the things you need to store inside it aren’t too big, you’ll be fine. The boot is pretty small but is more practical than a Toyota iQ’s, while luggage nets on the bulkhead, pockets on the backs of the seats, useful door pockets and even a pull-out compartment beneath the centre console give you lots of options to store, er, small things.

Of the two petrol engines, a 1.0-litre Smart three-cylinder and a 0.9-litre turbocharged three-pot borrowed from Renault, the turbo is much the better. Its wedge of torque makes the 1.0 feel chronically asthmatic. The 0.9 is a bit lumpy when you put your foot down, but it has plenty of pull to make up for it.

The steering is much better than the old ForTwo’s (thank the Lord), and while it responds quite slowly to inputs to avoid de-stabilising the teeny and tall Smart’s frame, it’s predictable and lightweight – great for biffing around town.

Speaking of steering, the turning circle is incredible. The lack of an engine between the front wheels means they can turn to a much greater angle. Inside the car it feels like you’re practically turning on your own axis. There’s not another car out there that will be able to park in such small spaces.

If you’ve already made up your mind that you want one, look away now. The complex engineering solutions involved in the baby Smart have pushed the entry price up beyond that of a top-spec Skoda Citigo, which has more space, more equipment, four seats and is only a bit bigger.

There is a decent amount of kit on board the Smart, though, including climate control, alloy wheels, cruise control (who knows why) and a leather-covered steering wheel. You’ll find some dubious plastics, but it shouldn’t matter too much.

Urbanites with a statement to make will love the customisation options, and anyone for whom parallel parking is a daily nightmare will adore it. The one thing all buyers will have to have in common is that they won’t mind paying more than they have to in order to get what they really want.


Price From £12,415

Engine 0.9l petrol, 3-cyl, turbocharged, 89bhp, 100 lb ft

Performance Top speed 96mph, 0-62mph in 10.4 secs

Economy 67.3mpg

CO2 emissions 97g/km