Wednesday, June 19, 2013

First Drive: 2013 Smart ForTwo Cabrio

The Smart ForTwo has been around since 1998. It is available as either a three-door hatchback or a two-door convertible. The Smart ForTwo Cabrio is a convertible with a cloth drop-top. The drop-top acts like a cloth sunroof, but it retracts all the way to the rear hatch door. The upper section of the roof line above the doors are removable. During one Friday in April, I decided to stop by a local Smart dealership and take the the Smart ForTwo Cabrio for a test drive. I drove five cars that day, included the Smart ForTwo Coupe. The version of the Smart Cabrio I drove featured wider wheels not featured on the Smart ForTwo Coupe I drove. But you can get wider wheels on the Coupe as well as on the Cabrio. The Smart ForTwo is a rear engine, rear-wheel drive, two-door convertible. It is available with a five-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift mode. It is classified as a supermini/city car.

The Smart ForTwo Cabrio has the same styling as the Smart ForTwo Coupe, except a retractable cloth roof of the Cabrio replaces the hardtop of the Coupe. The Smart ForTwo Cabrio feels more open with the top down. One feature about the retractable roof is that it can open and close while the car is in motion. As far as the interior goes, it is the same interior found in the Smart ForTwo Passion Coupe. I felt less cramped with the roof down, but I did not have much legroom behind the wheel.

The Smart ForTwo Cabrio is powered by a 1.0L I3 engine that produces 70 hp and 68 lb-ft of torque. It goes from 0 to 60 mph in 12.8 seconds and reaches a top speed of 90 mph. The Smart ForTwo Cabrio has the same performance as the Smart ForTwo Cabrio. Whether the Smart ForTwo comes with a retractable roof or not, it is still underpowered and very slow. The car felt slow on the roads and highways. Just like with the Coupe version, I felt a delay with the transmission in the Cabrio version. The wider wheels help the car with stability on the highway. The wind does not affect the Smart ForTwo with the wider wheels. But, I still could feel the wind push the car from side to side. The Cabrio is a convertible, and you will get wind noise with the roof down in almost any convertible. Prices for the Smart ForTwo Cabrio start at $18,640, which is $3000 more than the Smart ForTwo Passion Coupe.

Overall, I do not like the Smart ForTwo, whether it is the Coupe version or the Convertible version. There are just too many issues I have with the car. I noticed a delay with the transmission. The car is underpowered and very slow. The Smart ForTwo is so light that it gets pushed around by the wind. I did not have much legroom behind the wheel. And the car just feels cheap. If you want a supermini car, go with a Fiat 500, a Chevrolet Spark, or a Mini Cooper. If you want a supermini that has a retractable roof, go with the Fiat 500C. The Smart ForTwo is just bad. The main purpose for the Smart ForTwo line is that it raises the overall MPG rating for Mercedes-Benz, the parent company for Smart. This allows Mercedes-Benz to make high performance like the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, and the Mercedes-Benz S 65 AMG. Other than that, I do not see a reason for the Smart ForTwo to exist.

Photo was taken by a camera phone.
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