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#38

in 2012 Affordable Small Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $7,896 - $10,992
Original MSRP: $12,490 - $17,690
MPG: 34 City / 38 Hwy
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2012 Smart Fortwo Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

The main reason to choose the Smart Fortwo is for its good fuel economy ratings and city maneuverability. But if you want a small car with plenty of highway passing power and a smooth transmission, you’re better off with one of the Fortwo’s competitors.

  • "Unfortunately, there are far more drawbacks that keep the 2012 Smart Fortwo from being competitive against other small cars. While we consider its humble 1.0-liter engine adequate for city crawls, the single-clutch, automated manual transmission is one of the worst transmissions on the market today." -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

Test drivers say that overall, the Smart Fortwo’s performance is very unrefined. It has a weak 1.0-liter inline three-cylinder engine that produces 70 horsepower. Car reviewers call the standard five-speed automated manual transmission one of the worst on the market. They also say the Fortwo is sluggish from a start and the gears don’t shift smoothly. Test drivers also complain that the Fortwo is easily tossed around on the freeway, and that it doesn’t have enough power for highway passing.

The Fortwo coupe and convertible have EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings of 34/38 mpg city/highway. Those ratings are good, but the Fortwo uses premium fuel.

  • "Don't expect too much in the way of driving refinement with the 2012 Smart Fortwo. Ruts and bumps in the road are acceptably damped and the Fortwo can be fun to drive around town, but the tiny car is easily upset by crosswinds and gusts from passing trucks on the highway. Furthermore, the automated manual transmission is as crude a unit as you'll find in any car. Shifts are not only slow, but they're also accompanied by a significant lurch. Gearchanges can be made smoother with a well-timed throttle lift in Manual mode, but that defeats the point of having an automatic in the first place." -- Edmunds
  • "Acceleration is sluggish from a stop and the transmission sometimes hesitates before downshifting for more passing power. The transmission is still plagued by annoying bogging and surging at every shift when in automatic mode. Its shifts continue to be executed rather slowly. ... ForTwo's small engine struggles to provide adequate highway passing power." -- Consumer Guide

Handling and Braking

The Smart Fortwo works best as an urban runabout, excelling with close-quarters maneuverability and accurate steering. Reviewers, however, are disappointed with the Fortwo’s inconsistent brakes, and say that it feels tippy when rounding corners.

  • "Agile around town; tiny dimensions help provide outstanding close-quarters maneuverability. Light, accurate steering contributes to an almost sporty demeanor, though some testers complain of tippy sensations in corners." -- Consumer Guide
  • "We're also not fans of the awkward brake pedal placement and its inconsistent travel." -- Edmunds

Next Steps: 2012 Smart Fortwo

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Used car average prices are provided by ClearBook™, a TrueCar™ product