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2011 Smart ForTwo Passion Cabriolet (photos)

The Smart ForTwo is an odd duck, a strange little two-seater with a tiny engine. Its proportions are more applicable to a large appliance box than to a car, yet it manages to work well for city driving.

Wayne Cunningham
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
Wayne Cunningham
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The Smart ForTwo is one of the most unique cars available. Its design works best in congested urban areas where parking spaces are at a premium. The car is available in a base model, or in two Passion variants, a hard top and a convertible.

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The car's styling is function over form. Its boxy, upright shape fits around its two-seat cabin. To achieve its incredibly short wheelbase, the engine goes under the cargo area, in back.

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The convertible top has multiple settings. At its first stop, the soft top rolls back to the B-pillar, creating a sunroof. It can be rolled back further, at which point the roof rails can be removed.

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With the top up, the car retains the roofline of hardtop Smart ForTwos. There is only room for two occupants, and the passenger seat is offset slightly from the driver seat.

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The suspension delivers a rough ride, the short wheelbase and small wheels contributing to a lot of bounce when going over bumps.

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Although the ForTwo seems tiny, there is really an ample amount of cargo space.

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The interior is minimal, especially when it comes to cabin tech. But the car can be optioned with a navigation head unit and even a surround-sound stereo system.

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It takes a lot of effort to turn the wheel, but there is an electric power-steering option.

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The simple instrument cluster lacks a tachometer, something that would be useful when manually shifting the transmission. The cluster display shows the current gear, and has an indicator for when it should be shifted.

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The transmission, a single-clutch automated manual five speed, takes a long time to change gears.

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The climate controls sit in a pod above the stereo. In this stock-equipped ForTwo, the radio lacks a CD player.

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The USB port, located in the glove box, does not work with iPod cables. To get iPod support, you need either the upgraded navigation stereo unit, or an accessory.

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The stock audio system only has two speakers, so the audio quality is generally poor. But the car can be upgraded with a seven-speaker surround-sound system.

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Smart makes an iPhone app available, with many typical car tech functions. When coupled with an iPhone dock accessory for the Smart ForTwo, the iPhone audio comes through the car's speakers.

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The app has a navigation function, and uses Bing for local search results.

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