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Roadshow Video Reviews
2011 Smart ForTwo Passion cabrioletA loveable, hateable little car that struggles to make it in America.
-It's just the smallest car you can buy. It doesn't come in a kit. It's a Smart car, more correctly, the Smart Forwo. Let's drive this 2011 Fortwo passion Cabriolet. Figure out if it even makes sense here and check the tank. The Fortwo was introduced in the US with much being unfair in 2008. Sales were at brisk 24,000 at first year before they pretty much fell off a cliff down to less than 6000 in 2010. For some, it's just too little car. For others, it's just too little sophistication. And the first question that I gave about the Smart Fortwo is how do you fit in the thing? Really easily, to be honest, this car has gaps of headroom and legroom. Not so good this way. I mean your doors right up against you and the seats are very close together. That's how they made the packaging work, but this is not a small car inside. This direction or this direction. Now, let's go to the console such as it is. Here is the base radio. It's all radio, AM/FM. That's it, but even this base radio has a media button, which brings you this area here AUX/USB. They hide in here in the glow box, over there on the side wall of it. A little inconvenient, but fine considering it's the base radio. Now, we've go the sole gear shift right here, which is the only one you're gonna find. Looks like an automatic TRND, but actually goes to an automated manual transmission. We'll talk about more in a minute as the most controversial thing about this car except for its size. Here is the key, very [unk] right here by the shifter, real bad idea, because you're gonna shift this guy a lot and every time you go for it, you kind of dragging your hand here. I know I'm gonna snap that key off in the slot just a matter of time, but the real crap pleasing on this guy is that it's a Cabriolet and that means it's not like any other open top car you've driven Here's the button down here by the shifter. Open it up and right off the top you get this kind of [unk] thing with this top slides back in a accordion fleet and it does back to position number one, all the way open, big hole over your head, side rails here, but not very interesting. If you really wanna go top, let's hit the button again and let's have all the way down. It folds the glass rear panel down. It's supposed little bit of roll bar there and then you got this latches and hit his and you kind of pick this guy up and they actually come up and out. Now, you got a real open car. Not that cool. The coolest way to check up your Fortwo is get the Smart App for your iPhone and the duct that goes with it. It integrates your iPhone for hands-free calling, iPad music playback, web radio streaming, and a simple where am I map function, soon it will get an upgrade to have turned by turn navigation and hopefully that same upgrade will also expand applicability. Currently limited to iPhone 3GS running iOS 3. Now look, this is the official car of the either one of us or not said. You either get this car or you don't. It's super small. That's one of the first thing everyone notices about it, obviously, but it's also a very interesting piece of packaging. It's got a rather high roof line, a relatively high belt line, but with the high roof, it doesn't look like it's one of those slim bunker style cabins, and of course, for the other visual cues on this guy is this whole lying here with silver thing, which is part of that Coupe Tridion Safety Cell, and this car is like a little bunk balls on wheels, which has been engineered. Another key visual thing here is the tires marked perimeter of the car. There is very little head of the thread edges and that's also very unusual. Okay, now what power with something like this, all 1850 pounds of it, I mean the seats in an S class we would meet. Here's the middle, in line 3. Three 1 liter, that's it, made by Mitsubishi, pretty basic little engine, just a fuel injected gas engine seating side saddle here on the axis of the output shaft to the wheels. The numbers are not interesting 70 horsepower, 68 foot-pounds of torque. 0-60 in 12.8 seconds. They can just assume say, 0-60 yes, and the mileage is your payoff, 33 city, 41 highway, with a total of high 30 in real world driving. That's what you get of Fortwo. Well, that is parking kind of funny. What attaches to this is what this car gets real hard to live with. Over here is this automated manual gearbox. The most wrangly, junky piece of gear changing you're ever gonna see in a car made since 1950. Let's go for a ride. I'll show you what I mean. Now, the mean thing your way up here is you have to learn to drive this car. You don't just step on the gas and get all the power you need. You'll get in trouble doing that. The transmission, how can I describe this is a very inexpensive automated manual. There is probably no worse combination of attributes in the automotive industry. It feels like you've got a little capuchin monkey in there who's driving a manual gearbox for you and he's not very good at it. So, long legs between clutch if you will, gear change, reengage with a clutch and application of power. It's a lazy man's gearbox as if it's being shifted by a lazy man. So, what you do to get around this is in two things. If you're in drive, you've got a feeder to throttle. You can overwhelm that gearbox like that by stamping on it. Then it really box and it falls on its face as it goes from gear to no gear. When you're on the manual mode, you can do better. You got to hold the revs longer and not get caught left foot, but I'm sure it takes a toll on them on gas mileage. They key thing is if you leave and drive easing to your power input. Don't overwhelm the gearbox. That's the best you're gonna get out of this guy, and you're still gonna get ready long lazy shifts specially 1-2, and 2-3. Now, Mercedes has just once right around this time that we're shooting early February that they are taking over the distribution and sales from Roger Penske's organization. So, this is a dime product or dime-related product by the way. So, that could mean that Mercedes is getting serious about reattacking the US market and they know the gearboxes problem. There may be something new in the pipeline. I hope it's not some slippery sloppy CBT. I would love a manual on this thing, but I don't why, I guess for fuel economy reasons that might not work out. Of course, I want to drive this. Let's see if you can really back one of these into a parking spot and you're not mistakenly the hell out. -Okay. -How's is that. Look pretty good. -Huh. -A bit it works. -It's kind of fun. -Okay, let's price a Smart Fortwo Passion. Passion is the higher trim. It's not totally bare bones as things like power windows and some nicer stuff on the interior. Fifteen full, that's for the hard top. Now to go Cabriolet, add 3000 dollars. It's a big out. Wanna car this cheap, but it's really a pretty impressive top mechanism. The CNET textile options include the high line radio with touchscreen and navigation. 1300, I'm dubious on that one for some reason. I'm more intrigued by the surround sum premium audio with all the additional speakers for a mere 490. Few hundred bucks here and there for things like cruise control, 120 for those little gauges on the top. That's really a cheap option. The most expensive additional thing on this car is about 22,000 dollars. That's for a small car with a descent transmission.