smart – Automobile Magazine http://www.automobilemag.com No Boring Cars! | Reviews, Auto Shows, Lifestyle Thu, 01 Sep 2016 05:50:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.3 2017 Smart Fortwo Cabrio Drops its Top in Detroit http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2017-smart-fortwo-cabrio-drops-its-top-in-detroit/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2017-smart-fortwo-cabrio-drops-its-top-in-detroit/#respond Mon, 11 Jan 2016 15:54:00 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2017-smart-fortwo-cabrio-drops-its-top-in-detroit/ How to go topless during your urban commute.

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Fans of the ultra-tiny Smart Fortwo city car now have the option to go topless during their urban commutes. The 2017 Smart Fortwo Cabriolet made its global debut at the 2015 Frankfurt auto show, and Smart chose the 2016 Detroit auto show to reveal the Cabrio to U.S. buyers before the car goes on sale here this summer.

The cabriolet builds off the all-new, third-generation 2016 Smart Fortwo hatchback that was introduced to America at the New York auto show in March of 2015. Its convertible roof is a powered canvas affair, which can be raised or lowered in just 12 seconds by using buttons inside the car or from the remote key fob. While the 2017 Smart Fortwo Cabriolet at first appears to essentially only have a large fabric sunroof, it really can turn into a full-blown convertible. Once the roof has been stowed, the side roof bars that connect the A- and B-pillars can be removed and stored inside the trunk for maximum wind-in-your-air enjoyment.

2017 Smart Fortwo Cabrio side profile 2017 Smart Fortwo Cabrio rear three quarter 2017 Smart Fortwo Cabrio seats 2017 Smart Fortwo Cabrio cabin 03

The fabric convertible top can be optioned in black, red, or a denim blue said to emulate the look of jeans. Its glass rear window is heated. With the roof in place, the 2017 Smart Fortwo Cabrio has the same silhouette and overall shape as the hatchback on which the droptop is based. Smart says the car’s roof can withstand 500 runs through an automated car wash, and that its opening mechanism has been tested at temperatures ranging from 5 to 176 degrees Fahrenheit.

The convertible carries over its sole powertrain option from the hardtop. A rear-mounted, 0.9-liter turbocharged inline-three engine directs 89 hp and 100 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels by way of either a 5-speed manual or a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Top speed of the Cabrio is 96 mph and the 176-pound weight penalty adds around half a second to the 10.1-second 0-60 mph time of the manual-transmission hatchback. Fuel economy will likely drop by around 1 mpg compared to the 32/39 mpg (city/highway) EPA numbers for the manual coupe (34/39 for the dual-clutch coupe). Standard features on the Cabrio include Bluetooth, automatic climate control, LED running lights, and hill-start assist. Pricing and final fuel economy numbers will be released later this year.

The Smart Fortwo was first launched in Europe in 1998, originally carrying the City Coupe name. The original convertible version came along in 2000, called the City Cabrio. The second-generation Fortwo arrived in 2007 and Smart officially entered the U.S. market in January of 2008. Production of the present, third-generation Smart Fortwo hatchback began in 2014 and arrived in the USA in 2015.

2017 Smart Fortwo Cabrio rear end 2017 Smart Fortwo Cabrio front end 2017 Smart Fortwo Cabrio convertible top 2017 Smart Fortwo Cabrio center console 2017 Smart Fortwo Cabrio cabin 02 2017 Smart Fortwo Cabrio cabin 01 2017 Smart Fortwo Cabriolet front three quarter 4 2017 Smart Fortwo Cabriolet profile 2 2017 Smart Fortwo Cabriolet interior 1 2017 Smart Fortwo Cabriolet interior 2 2017 Smart Fortwo Cabriolet rear three quarter 2 2017 Smart Fortwo Cabriolet rear three quarter 3 2017 Smart Fortwo Cabriolet rear three quarter 1 2017 Smart Fortwo Cabriolet profile 3 2017 Smart Fortwo Cabriolet front three quarter 1 2017 Smart Fortwo Cabriolet front three quarter 2 2017 Smart Fortwo Cabriolet profile 1 2017 Smart Fortwo Cabriolet removing roof rails

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The New Smart Fortwo is Still Not Smart Enough http://www.automobilemag.com/news/the-new-fortwo-is-still-not-smart-enough/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/the-new-fortwo-is-still-not-smart-enough/#respond Thu, 01 Oct 2015 17:00:00 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/news/the-new-fortwo-is-still-not-smart-enough/ Smart’s claim to fame remains that it’s a very small car.

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When it finally arrived on these shores in 2008, a full 10 years after its European debut, there was no doubt about it: The Smart Fortwo was the smallest car on sale in America. Unfortunately, the list of superlatives ended there.

Because despite its august Daimler-Benz lineage, that first-gen Smart wasn’t close to being the finest small car to drive, the cheapest, the best built, or even the most economical. Lilliputian footprint aside, it was bettered on most other fronts by larger cars with back seats. That limited skill set—composed of compact dimensions (less than 9 feet long), a cartoonish visage that appealed to some of the people some of the time and, er, not much else—meant the Smart’s natural constituencies numbered but two: urbanites in a position to take advantage of its joyously unprecedented street park-ability, and persons who get off on car purchases that make them look verdantly green, even if the perception holds water only in their own imaginations or those of other people who don’t know much about cars, including the fact that the Smart wrung but 36 miles out of a gallon in the EPA’s combined cycle.

2016 Smart Fortwo side profile 06 2016 Smart Fortwo parked 06 2016 Smart Fortwo rear three quarter in motion 06 2016 Smart Fortwo door trim panel and cabin

Mind you, reality need not always be an impediment to success. As Toyota’s Prius has demonstrated for close to two decades in the internationally recognized realm of automotive green, for most consumers getting the message of your own greenness out and up in lights is the real Job No. 1, and on this count the Smart, like the distinctive-looking Prius, which outsells all other hybrid sedans combined, has proven conclusively that for many extrovert hypermilers—not unlike show-off muscle heads—looks count for pretty much everything. Only thing is, Smart never sold like the Prius. Perhaps because it wasn’t as economical, practical, or anywhere near as creamy good.

So we’re pleased, for Smart’s sake, to report that the new Fortwo model, which we’ve just driven in Portland, Oregon, continues to loudly proclaim greenness and is in most every way a better machine than the one it replaces. With deformable plastic panels and a palette of nutty colors to set off the contrasting hue of a massively strong steel passenger cage, it is just as short as it ever was, almost miraculously even safer, and still stands out in a crowd. A joint enterprise between Daimler-Benz and Renault, which have anointed a related machine a Twingo replacement, the Fortwo is better-appointed than it was, better-handling, and at long last fast enough, thanks to an all-new 89-horsepower, 0.9-liter turbocharged triple, which replaces a 1.0-liter, 70-horsepower Mitsubishi unit of no particular distinction. Sixty comes in about 10 seconds now, fast enough surely to make it on time to your volunteer shift at the food co-op.

Better yet, Smart has binned the diabolically recalcitrant manumatic gearbox that used to make the best part of Smart motoring the moment you switched it off. Though imperfect, the new car’s six-speed automatic, and a first-ever five-speed manual option, make far superior companions. Thanks to a nearly 4-inch-wider track, stability is significantly improved in the new car, as are shoulder room and general interior comfort. Also along for the ride are predictable advances in in-car tech, which involve using your own phone, and, for those who’ve been dying to add a little inconvenience to their connectivity, a host of Smart-specific apps. (They’ll get it right one day.) And we would be remiss if we didn’t mention a brilliant 22.8-foot turning circle so compact it will make London cabbies weep with envy.

We are weeping, too, but for different reasons. Because for all the improvement, the new Fortwo is still not good enough, still outpaced by most other small cars. You know their names, all of them. They handle better, they’re more fun, practical, and, damn it, Jim, they get better gas mileage. All these years on, with small family sedans routinely breaking the 40 mpg barrier, it transpires that the 2016 Smart Fortwo has been relegated to navigating the backwaters of 1998 with an EPA combined mileage of 35 mpg and a highway figure of just 39 mpg, less than the 36/41 mpg of its predecessor. Yeah, I know gas is cheap, but that’s an excuse for buying a Tahoe, not a Fortwo. For now, Smart’s claim to fame remains that it’s a very small car. It looks like it ought to be really green. And that’s about it.

2016 Smart Fortwo rear three quarter in motion 11 2016 Smart Fortwo side profile 061 2016 Smart Fortwo rear three quarter in motion 10 2016 Smart Fortwo rear three quarter in motion 08 2016 Smart Fortwo side profile 03 2016 Smart Fortwo rear three quarter in motion 09 2016 Smart Fortwo side profile 05 2016 Smart Fortwo side profile 07 2016 Smart Fortwo rear three quarter in motion 12 2016 Smart Fortwo rear three quarter 05 2016 Smart Fortwo tail light 01 2016 Smart Fortwo wheel 2016 Smart Fortwo tail light 02 2016 Smart Fortwo rear end 01 2016 Smart Fortwo parked 061 2016 Smart Fortwo rear three quarter in motion 05 2016 Smart Fortwo rear three quarter 04 2016 Smart Fortwo rear three quarter in motion 061 2016 Smart Fortwo rear end 04 2016 Smart Fortwo rear three quarter in motion 07 2016 Smart Fortwo rear three quarter 03 2016 Smart Fortwo parked 05 2016 Smart Fortwo parked 04 2016 Smart Fortwo rear end 03 2016 Smart Fortwo parked 02 2016 Smart Fortwo model set 17 2016 Smart Fortwo model set 14 2016 Smart Fortwo model set 16 2016 Smart Fortwo model set 15 2016 Smart Fortwo model set 12 2016 Smart Fortwo model set 18 2016 Smart Fortwo model set 10 2016 Smart Fortwo model set 13 2016 Smart Fortwo model lineup 04 2016 Smart Fortwo model set 11 2016 Smart Fortwo rear three quarter 06 2016 Smart Fortwo model lineup 06 2016 Smart Fortwo parked 01 2016 Smart Fortwo model lineup 03 2016 Smart Fortwo model lineup 05 2016 Smart Fortwo rear end 02 2016 Smart Fortwo model lineup 02 2016 Smart Fortwo model lineup 01 2016 Smart Fortwo front three quarter in motion 17 2016 Smart Fortwo grille 02 2016 Smart Fortwo parked 03 2016 Smart Fortwo front three quarter in motion 16 2016 Smart Fortwo front three quarter in motion 18 2016 Smart Fortwo front three quarter in motion 15 2016 Smart Fortwo front three quarter in motion 12 2016 Smart Fortwo front three quarter in motion 13 2016 Smart Fortwo front three quarter 04 2016 Smart Fortwo front three quarter 07 2016 Smart Fortwo front end 01 2016 Smart Fortwo front three quarter in motion 09 2016 Smart Fortwo front three quarter in motion 14 2016 Smart Fortwo front three quarter in motion 11 2016 Smart Fortwo front three quarter in motion 08 2016 Smart Fortwo front three quarter 03 2016 Smart Fortwo front end 03 2016 Smart Fortwo front three quarter in motion 06 2016 Smart Fortwo front three quarter 05 2016 Smart Fortwo front three quarter 06 2016 Smart Fortwo grille 01 2016 Smart Fortwo headlight and grille 2016 Smart Fortwo headlight 2016 Smart Fortwo door handle 2016 Smart Fortwo body vent 2016 Smart Fortwo door mirror 2016 Smart Fortwo shifter and center console 02 2016 Smart Fortwo rpm gauge 03 2016 Smart Fortwo passenger dashboard airbag 2016 Smart Fortwo instrument cluster 02 2016 Smart Fortwo glove box 2016 Smart Fortwo driver wheel airbag 2016 Smart Fortwo steering wheel 03 2016 Smart Fortwo door trim panel and cabin1 2016 Smart Fortwo climate control 03 2016 Smart Fortwo climate control 02 2016 Smart Fortwo center stack 2016 Smart Fortwo center console 02 2016 Smart Fortwo cabin 08 2016 Smart Fortwo cabin 07 2016 Smart Fortwo cabin 06 2016 Smart Fortwo ac and heat vents 02

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2016 Smart Fortwo Second Drive Review http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2016-smart-fortwo-second-drive-review/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2016-smart-fortwo-second-drive-review/#respond Wed, 09 Sep 2015 12:00:00 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2016-smart-fortwo-second-drive-review/ The new Smart is now worth considering.

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Just as the name smart fortwo tends to befuddle spellcheck, the first edition of Mercedes-Benz’s Smart car to hit U.S. shores perplexed many here. The concept of driving a pint-sized city car designed for European cities in a country famed for its wide-open spaces made the Fortwo an automotive oddity at best.

The all-new 2016 Smart Fortwo is still tiny, and it continues to be more appropriate for the likes San Francisco or East Coast urban environs than say, Minot, North Dakota. But thanks to myriad updates, the new Smart is now a bona fide four-wheeled commodity, a car finally worthy of true consideration.

Exterior design aids the new image. While the car’s overall length is unchanged, the 2016 Fortwo is about 4 inches wider than before, with fender flares front and rear that lend the car a more planted look, so it no longer appears to be running on its tippy toes. The added roundness of the shape plus the larger headlights and taillamps add to the new model’s persona. To be blunt, the Fortwo now looks like a real car.

The previous Smart’s interior was logical and very useable but not necessarily attractive. The 2016 Fortwo’s cabin appears to have been sculpted rather than just laid out. It’s not only appealing to the eye, but it also brings a sense of being in a normal rather than somewhat utilitarian vehicle. Factor in the added width, and it is now a comfy ride for a pair of adults. The passenger seatback can be folded forward to accommodate longer cargo more Boogie Board than surfboard, but it’s a useful feature nonetheless.

The optional multi-function steering wheel in our test car handled most immediate needs. A useful tach/clock combo sprouts from the left side of the dash. That said, the speedo could be easier to read and the HVAC controls are a bit low down on the center stack for quick use in crowded urban traffic.

The 2016 Smart Fortwo’s infotainment system sits high on the car’s center stack, and for $100 you can buy a bracket to hold your iPhone or Android phone of choice in front of it. Download the free Smart Cross Connect app, pair your phone up via Bluetooth and several added functions become available, including vehicle information, radio controls, and a navigation system, plus cool features like a locator for secret tiny places to park your Fortwo. The navi software we used was a beta edition, so hopefully it will be further refined. At this point it requires too much attention for use in a crowded city scene. For folks not used to living with their smartphone, it may be best to hold out for the upcoming, 7-inch in-dash, swipeable touchscreen option.

The powertrain highlights of the new 2016 Fortwo start with the optional dual-clutch six-speed automatic transmission, which replaces the atrocious automated manual of last model. A five-speed manual is standard. Also new is an all-aluminum, turbocharged three-cylinder engine. The 0.9-liter engine pumps out 89 horsepower and 100 lb-ft of torque available at 2,500 rpm. Other related numbers: 0-60 in 10.1 seconds with the manual, 10.5 for the automatic. Fuel economy: 33 city, 39 highway, 36 combined when paired to the automatic. Top speed? A go-there-if-you-dare 96 mph.

Once again the engine is encapsulated under the cargo shelf in a rear-drive layout. As before, at the core of 2016 Fortwo is the car’s rigid “tridion” cell of high-strength steels that cocoons the cabin. With a vehicle as small as the Smart, safety has always been a primary concern, especially here in the U.S. where giant trucks and SUVs clog the roads. Smart is quick to point out that it has done successful frontal collisions of the 2,053-pound Fortwo against the likes of C- and S-Class models. It helps that the Fortwo comes with eight airbags.

Underpinning the car is a new McPherson strut front suspension and a DeDion design at the back. Naturally, ABS, ASR, and ESP are included, as is Crosswind Assist, which helps keep the small-but-tall auto from getting crossed up when the wind whistles hard. A sport suspension is optional.

The 2016 Smart Fortwo has no trouble proving its reputation as a city car. With a turning circle reduced to 22.8 feet (curb to curb), it almost seems to swivel in its wheelbase. Effort with the variable-ratio, electric-assist steering is best termed “urban light,” and you can easily maneuver in places where you’d be curbing wheels in larger cars. Its 89 horsepower seems to be about right for city driving once you get used to the noticeable turbo lag. And, of course, there’s the chance to park parallel with or perpendicular to the curb. This car has always been happy city dweller.

2016 Smart fortwo 18 2016 Smart fortwo 21 2016 Smart fortwo 17 2016 Smart fortwo 24

Having lauded its city character, we have to add that the 2016 Fortwo can be reasonably fun on level, twisting roads. Don’t expect steering feedback and again anticipate the turbo lag, but we’d bet you could chase down any one of a number of small-but-prized sports cars from the past. What we can’t imagine enjoying in the Fortwo is climbing over the Donner Pass in the Sierra Nevadas on Interstate 80 or facing a day of 500-plus miles deadheading across southern Texas on Interstate 10. Then again, that isn’t what the Fortwo was designed to do.

It was designed to come in at low price, which happens to be $15,400 to start. Included are such items as power windows, cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity, and handy little sunglasses boxes over each door. There are four equipment levels — Pure, Passion, Prime, and Proxy — and the expected long list of options. Add $990 for the automatic transmission.

There will be more Fortwos in the future. The Cabrio version was just announced. An electric version is timed for next year, plus a factory-authorized Brabus edition. Whether the latter will be just for looks or with added oomph is unclear at this point. One Smart we won’t see here is the four-door Forfour body style. It wasn’t designed to meet U.S. regulations and, besides, spellcheck would have a fit.


2016 Smart Fortwo Specifications

  • On Sale: Now
  • Price: $15,400
  • Engine: 0.9-liter turbocharged DOHC 12-valve inline three-cylinder/89 hp
  • Transmission: 5-speed manual, 6-speed dual-clutch automatic
  • Layout: Two-door, 2-passenger, rear-engine, RWD coupe
  • EPA Mileage: 33/39 city/highway
  • Suspension: struts, springs
  • Brakes F/R: discs/drum
  • Tires: N/A
  • L x W x H: 106.1 x 65.4 x 61.0 in
  • Wheelbase: 73.7 in
  • Headroom: N/A
  • Legroom: N/A
  • Shoulder Room: N/A
  • Cargo Room: 9.2 cu-ft
  • Weight: 1,984-2,053 lb
  • Weight Dist. F/R: N/A
  • 0-60 mph:

    • 10.1-10.5 sec
  • Top Speed: 96 mph
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2017 Smart Fortwo Cabriolet Revealed Ahead of Frankfurt Debut http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2017-smart-fortwo-cabriolet-revealed-ahead-of-frankfurt-debut/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2017-smart-fortwo-cabriolet-revealed-ahead-of-frankfurt-debut/#respond Fri, 28 Aug 2015 13:30:00 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2017-smart-fortwo-cabriolet-revealed-ahead-of-frankfurt-debut/ Dropping the top on the new city car.

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Fans of the ultra-tiny Smart Fortwo city car now have the option to go topless during their urban commutes. The 2017 smart fortwo Cabriolet makes its debut at next month’s Frankfurt auto show and will launch in the U.S. in summer 2016.

The Cabriolet builds off the all-new 2016 Smart Fortwo hatchback that was introduced to this country at the 2015 New York auto show in March. Its convertible roof is a powered canvas affair, which can be raised or lowered in just 12 seconds by using buttons inside the car or from the remote keyfob. While the 2017 Smart Fortwo Cabriolet at first appears to essentially only have a large fabric sunroof, it really can turn into a full-blown convertible: Once the roof has been stowed, the side roof bars that connect the A- and B-pillars can be removed and stored in the trunk for maximum wind-in-your-air enjoyment.

The fabric convertible top can be optioned in black, red, or a denim blue said to emulate the look of jeans. Its glass rear window is heated. With the roof in place, the 2017 Smart Fortwo Cabriolet has the same silhouette and overall shape as the hatchback on which the droptop is based. Smart says the car’s roof can withstand 500 automatic car-wash cycles, and that its opening mechanism has been tested at temperatures ranging from 5 to 176 degrees Fahrenheit.

Smart Fortwo Cabriolet front three quarter 01 Smart Fortwo Cabriolet cabin Smart Fortwo Cabriolet rear end Smart Fortwo Cabriolet rear three quarter 02

As a result, the Cabriolet carries over its sole powertrain option from the hardtop. A rear-mounted, 0.9-liter turbocharged inline-three engine directs 89 hp and 100 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels by way of either a 5-speed manual or a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Though fuel economy ratings aren’t yet available, Smart says the Fortwo Cabriolet will manage the a top speed of 96 mph. Standard features include Bluetooth, automatic climate control, LED running lights, and hill-start assist.

Expect more information on the 2017 Smart Fortwo Cabriolet, including pricing and fuel-economy ratings, closer to its on-sale date next summer.

2017 Smart Fortwo Cabriolet rear three quarter 3 2017 Smart Fortwo Cabriolet rear three quarter 1 2017 Smart Fortwo Cabriolet profile 3 2017 Smart Fortwo Cabriolet profile 2 2017 Smart Fortwo Cabriolet front three quarter 4 2017 Smart Fortwo Cabriolet front three quarter 1 2017 Smart Fortwo Cabriolet interior 1 Smart Fortwo Cabriolet rear three quarter 01 Smart Fortwo Cabriolet seats 2017 Smart Fortwo Cabriolet front three quarter 2 2017 Smart Fortwo Cabriolet profile 1 2017 Smart Fortwo Cabriolet front three quarter 3 2017 Smart Fortwo Cabriolet removing roof rails 2017 Smart Fortwo Cabriolet interior 2 2017 Smart Fortwo Cabriolet rear three quarter 2

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Brabus Smart Fortwo Spied with More Aggressive Bumper, New Wheels http://www.automobilemag.com/news/brabus-smart-fortwo-spied-with-more-aggressive-bumper-new-wheels/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/brabus-smart-fortwo-spied-with-more-aggressive-bumper-new-wheels/#respond Fri, 24 Jul 2015 14:40:00 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/news/brabus-smart-fortwo-spied-with-more-aggressive-bumper-new-wheels/ Sporty city car could debut in Frankfurt.

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Brabus may have made a name for itself endowing Mercedes models with exorbitant amounts of horsepower — witness the 850-hp S63 coupe, for instance — but that doesn’t mean the tuning company ignores slightly more pedestrian cars. These spy photos show that Brabus is hard at work developing a tuning package for the new smart fortwo city car.

This Smart Fortwo prototype has a new front fascia that appears to have larger air intakes (although the car’s engine is actually in the rear), as well as a lower ride height, larger wheels, and enlarged brakes. The rear fenders have also been subtly enlarged to fit the wider wheels and tires, and a dual exhaust setup pokes out from the rear fascia.

Smart Fortwo Brabus spy photos front 1 Smart Fortwo Brabus spy photos rear three quarter 1 Smart Fortwo Brabus spy photos profile Smart Fortwo Brabus spy photos front three quarter 2

Brabus will likely upgrade the Fortwo’s chassis for sportier handling and braking, but don’t expect too much to change underhood. With the last Smart Fortwo, Brabus didn’t add any power to the 1.0-liter inline-three engine sold in the U.S. market. This time, reports suggest Brabus will try to pump up the gasoline engines offered in the Smart Fortwo, but we still don’t expect a huge amount of power from the Lilliputian runabout. In the U.S., the Fortwo will offer a 0.9-liter turbo-three engine rated at 89 hp and 100 lb-ft of torque.

Expect more details and photos when the Brabus Smart Fortwo makes its public debut later this year, likely at the Frankfurt auto show in September. The standard 2016 Smart Fortwo will hit U.S. showrooms this fall.

Smart Fortwo Brabus spy photos front three quarter 1 Smart Fortwo Brabus spy photos front 2 Smart Fortwo Brabus spy photos rear three quarter 3 Smart Fortwo Brabus spy photos rear three quarter 2

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This Smart ForTwo is Packed with 5,720 Watts of JBL Sound http://www.automobilemag.com/news/this-smart-fortwo-is-packed-with-5720-watts-of-jbl-sound/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/this-smart-fortwo-is-packed-with-5720-watts-of-jbl-sound/#respond Fri, 15 May 2015 14:25:00 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/news/this-smart-fortwo-is-packed-with-5720-watts-of-jbl-sound/ A rolling concert hall.

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The Smart ForTwo city car is all about being small, and audio provider JBL recently teamed up with Smart to see how much it could get out of the tiny hatchback in terms of sound. The result is an impressively packaged, high-powered audio system with a whopping 5,720 watts of amplification.

JBL calls it the Smart Forgigs study, and it’s a version of the 2016 smart fortwo hatchback that’s outfitted with all sorts of amplifiers, speakers, and tweeters to make for a sound system on wheels. To put the JBL system’s 5,720-watt amplification number in perspective, the high-end Bang & Olufsen sound system in the Audi A8 only makes 1,300 watts.

Fitting the full array of sound equipment into the tiny Smart ForTwo was no easy task, and required 100 meters of wiring that’s integrated into the interior paneling. JBL also added lots of insulation material to insulate the passenger cell and door panels so they don’t shake apart from the sound system’s power. A DJ can also control special interior and exterior lighting to change color along with the music.

Though the fully outfitted Smart Forgigs won’t go up for sale anytime soon, Smart does offer a far less powerful, conventional 240-watt JBL audio system in the ForTwo. The 2016 Smart ForTwo will arrive in U.S. showrooms this September and will be available with a 0.9-liter turbo inline-three engine with 89 hp and 100 lb-ft of torque.

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2016 Smart Fortwo to Make U.S. Debut in New York http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2016-smart-fortwo-to-make-u-s-debut-in-new-york/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2016-smart-fortwo-to-make-u-s-debut-in-new-york/#respond Fri, 27 Mar 2015 20:00:00 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2016-smart-fortwo-to-make-u-s-debut-in-new-york/ Arrives in showrooms this September.

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The 2016 Smart Fortwo, which has been on sale in Europe since last year, will finally arrive in the U.S. this fall. But prior to that, the 2016 Fortwo will make its official U.S. debut at next week’s 2015 New York auto show.

Powering the microcar will be a 0.9-liter turbocharged inline-three that makes 89 hp and 100 lb-ft of torque. Transmission choices include a five-speed manual or six-speed dual-clutch automatic and an all-electric powertrain is expected to eventually join the lineup. Not coming to the U.S. is a naturally aspirated 1.0-liter I-4 rated at 71 hp and 67 lb-ft (we also don’t get the four-seat, four-door Forfour model).

The new Fortwo boasts a number of improvements compared to the outgoing Fortwo. The Smart’s tridion cell, essentially a safety cage, is thicker and stronger and tough enough to withstand a head-on collision with a Mercedes-Benz S-Class (with both cars travelling at 31 mph). Additionally, its turning circle improves to a tight and tidy 22.8 feet, while the interior gets an upgrade in materials, technology, and seating position.

Representatives from Smart said more specific information on packaging and pricing for the new car will be available closer to the car’s on-sale date.

2016 Smart Fortwo Motor Trend homepage image 2016 Smart Fortwo Motor Trend homepage image1 2016 Smart ForTwo rear three quarter in motion 2016 Smart ForTwo interior 2016 Smart ForTwo front three quarter turn 2016 Smart ForTwo interior1 2016 Smart ForTwo interior controls 2016 Smart ForTwo front three quarters 03

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2016 Smart Fortwo Review http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2016-smart-fortwo-review/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2016-smart-fortwo-review/#respond Wed, 12 Nov 2014 17:30:00 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2016-smart-fortwo-review/ Now more of an adjective, less of a verb.

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Barcelona — Hype surrounding the American introduction of the smart fortwo in 2008 suggested the little car ran on energy drinks and, at rest in its tiny parking space, worked out problems of chaos theory. But someone forgot that “smart” is also a verb. A lot of smarting took place in the United States after the initial sales rush faded to semi-dormancy. The national distributor and local dealers smarted after investing in the new franchise. So did owners who contended with the coarse powertrain and sketchy driving dynamics. In hopes of picking up sales and opening the door for an addition to the model lineup, the 2016 Smart Fortwo is new and comprehensively improved.

Styling by Pixar

A walk around the 2016 Smart Fortwo reveals a car that appears to have escaped from a Pixar movie. All that’s missing from the florid face is a stubby stogie hanging out one corner of the air intake. It’s easy to imagine late developmental nights spent gabbing with a rusty tow truck in Radiator Springs. The goggling eyes recall the SUV-like Smart Forstars concept car of 2012, which emphasized anthropomorphism. The front’s sharp corners reduce drag, a massing volume on the side results in a substantial “shoulder,” and the wee lick of a rear spoiler lets the last draggy air detach after just 106.1 inches of engagement. As always, one color accentuates the safety cell while the plastic door panels contrast in another.


An obvious question

Questions about crashworthiness naturally arise even before anyone asks what the Fortwo has under the hood. Body engineer Uwe Lobenwein explained that hot-formed steel – “the best that you currently get” — is part of the material mix. “Especially where we have it in the body-in-white,” Lobenwein said. “It’s in the safety cell and the floor to absorb shear forces, to transfer the energy from the front of the vehicle into the back.” A prototype that survived a 50-kph (31 mph) offset collision with a Mercedes-Benz S-Class and still had normally functioning doors exemplified his point.

From baby boot to hiking boot

Arriving in Pure and Passion trim levels in the United States late in 2015, the 2016 Smart Fortwo is less like a high-top baby boot and more like a hiking boot. Most crucially, it is 3.9 inches wider, with the track increased by 3.6 inches, and now maneuvers far more authoritatively, as we found during a preview on the monumental main drags of Barcelona. Tucked in with everything else, a new damper-strut front and DeDion rear suspension combine with taller springs and higher-profile tires to deliver a ride mostly free of tumult or clamor.

2016 Smart ForTwo front end 03 2016 Smart ForTwo rear end 02 2016 Smart ForTwo rear end 2016 Smart ForTwo side static 02 2016 Smart ForTwo blue interior 2016 Smart ForTwo rear three quarters

Rear-mounted three

Once again, the engine sits in the rear, tilting away at 32 degrees to leave room above for cargo. While Europeans will choose among a trio of Renault-sourced three-cylinders, the U.S. market will only see the turbocharged DOHC 898cc engine. Output is 89 hp and 99 lb-ft of torque, the latter being delivered at 2,500 rpm. Although we never got out of third gear in Barcelona, Smart says 0 to 62 mph is accomplished in 10.4 seconds, with a top speed of 96 mph. Vibration is not part of the equation, and the three revs happily. While EPA figures aren’t yet available, the European combined ratings come in around 55 mpg.

At last, a new transmission (actually, two)

The old car’s great atrocity, the five-speed automated-manual transmission, is replaced by a six-speed dual-clutch automatic or five-speed manual gearbox. The DCT is not accompanied by paddle shifters, so manual operation is controlled exclusively by the gear lever’s sport-shift feature. Upshifts are slow but assuredly smooth. The five-speed manual, which is expected to account for 20 percent of sales, would not be our choice because of the car’s reluctance to creep in traffic, the turbo engine surging with the accelerator but then inconveniently lugging in second gear. We only sampled the DCT with the not-for-our-market, naturally aspirated 999cc engine, and despite the less robust output we found it preferable.


Yes, there’s an app

Ducking through the large opening into the cabin was like entering a gondola. The cowl wrapped around our bellies, and the fixed glass overhead afforded prolonged views of the 60-meter-tall Christopher Columbus monument at Barcelona’s port. After fixing the seat in the best position to match the (leather-wrapped) steering wheel that adjusts for rake only, we dashed around Barcelona without feeling imperiled by our mote-like aspect. The ride quality was impressive, with the car maintaining serenity over bumps. Should a mistral have strayed in from the Mediterranean, the Fortwo’s standard crosswind assist, optional lane-keep assist, and forward collision warning were on tap to save us. In fact, with such composure, the ruckus supplied by the available eight-speaker JBL sound system with removable cargo-area bass speaker might be welcome.

And how could the Fortwo be trendy without an app? Cross Connect allows users to dock a phone in an adjustable center-console cradle, thereby controlling infotainment functions, recording and displaying data, and even helping to find parking spaces. Other smarty-pants drivers who’ve identified Smart-only spots can upload those locations for general benefit.

2016 Smart ForTwo front three quarter 2016 Smart ForTwo wheel 2016 Smart ForTwo side profile 2016 Smart ForTwo interior 2016 Smart ForTwo cluster 2016 Smart ForTwo headlamp

The fuel-cost conundrum

After our drive, Smart boss Annette Winkler sat with us at dinner, nudging with her elbow when speaking of “Smart cities” — mostly West Coast enclaves where kale and quinoa rule and Tegan and Sara sell out. But with gas back at $3 a gallon, we must ask: Who needs a Fortwo other than as an eccentric statement? The improvements are undeniable, and it will have more standard features for a slightly higher, as yet undetermined, price. But for similar money, the Nissan Versa Note looks amazing. The Smart Fortwo answers a question fewer people will ask.

2016 Smart Fortwo Specifications

  • On Sale: Late 2015
  • Base Price: N/A
  • Engine: 0.9-liter (898cc) turbocharged DOHC 12-valve inline three-cylinder/89 hp @ 5,500 rpm, 99 lb-ft @ 2,500 rpm
  • Transmission: 5-speed manual, 6-speed dual-clutch automatic
  • Layout: Two-door, 2-passenger, rear-engine, RWD coupe
  • EPA Mileage: N/A
  • L x W x H: 106.1 x 65.4 x 61.2 in
  • Wheelbase: 73.7 in
  • Weight: 1,940-1,984 lb
2016 Smart ForTwo side parking 2016 Smart ForTwo front three quarter in motion 03 2016 Smart ForTwo front three quarter turn 2016 Smart ForTwo front three quarter in motion 02 2016 Smart ForTwo front end 2016 Smart ForTwo rear three quarter in motion 02 2016 Smart ForTwo rear three quarters in motion 2016 Smart ForTwo interior 02 2016 Smart ForTwo rear three quarters1 2016 Smart ForTwo front three quarter 02 2016 Smart ForTwo side in motion 03 2016 Smart ForTwo front three quarters in motion 2016 Smart ForTwo front three quarter1 2016 Smart ForTwo interior 05 2016 Smart ForTwo side profile 02 2016 Smart ForTwo side 2016 Smart ForTwo front end 031 2016 Smart ForTwo side view 2016 Smart ForTwo front three quarters 03 2016 Smart ForTwo rear end in motion 2016 Smart ForTwo side in motion 021 2016 Smart ForTwo front three quarter turn1 2016 Smart ForTwo side static 021 2016 Smart ForTwo rear three quarters2 2016 Smart ForTwo front end in motion 03 2016 Smart ForTwo top view in motion 03 2016 Smart ForTwo front view 2016 Smart ForTwo blue interior1 2016 Smart ForTwo top view in motion 2016 Smart ForTwo front three quarter in motion 04 2016 Smart ForTwo front three quarter in motion 021 2016 Smart ForTwo front end static 02 2016 Smart ForTwo front end 032 2016 Smart ForTwo front end static 2016 Smart ForTwo front three quarter 021 2016 Smart ForTwo rear three quarters3 2016 Smart ForTwo air vent 2016 Smart ForTwo phone dock 2016 Smart ForTwo taillight

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Top 10 Cars with the Greatest Price Differentials http://www.automobilemag.com/news/top-10-cars-with-the-greatest-price-differentials/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/top-10-cars-with-the-greatest-price-differentials/#respond Fri, 19 Sep 2014 18:30:00 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/news/top-10-cars-with-the-greatest-price-differentials/ How much diversity can be contained within a single nameplate?

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When it comes to cars, what’s in a name? In today’s diverse automotive universe, a car’s nameplate can totally change meaning depending on the prefixes or suffixes attached to it. Take acronyms like SRT, EV, and AMG, for instance: these simple letter combinations can turn workaday economy cars or mainstream SUVs and transform them into something wildly different.

To show the full scope of this diversity, we’re highlighting the 10 cars that offer the largest price differentials within a given model range. We took the most expensive model available in any given lineup and divided it by the least expensive model to find a price differential factor. Here they are, listed in descending order:

1. Chevrolet Camaro: 3.03

V-6 1LS: $24,700

Z/28: $75,000

A $75,000 Chevrolet Camaro seems pretty crazy, and the hardcore Z/28 track special surely is. It’s hardly the same car as its plebian Camaro V-6 sibling, what with its stripped-out interior, completely reworked suspension and brakes, and massive 7.0-liter V-8 engine putting out 505 hp. And while the 323-hp Camaro V-6 is no slouch, with more horsepower than its six-cylinder Challenger and Mustang competitors, the Z/28 plays in a completely different league with its Nürburgring lap time that beats supercars like the Lexus LFA and the Lamborghini Murcielago.

2. Porsche Panamera: 2.54

Base: $79,095

Turbo S Executive: $201,495

The Porsche Panamera is best known as a V-8-powered supersedan, but did you know that you can actually get a Panamera with a V-6 engine and rear-wheel drive? Good luck finding a Panamera that costs anywhere close to this $78,095 base price, though, as Porsche’s crazy option pricing means that most Panamera sedans, regardless of engine choice, will fall much closer to the range-topping, 570-hp, all-wheel-drive Panamera Turbo S Executive in terms of price once you add equipment like a full leather interior, heated seats, and a backup camera.

3. Mercedes-Benz SL: 2.53

SL400: $84,925

SL65 AMG: $215,425

The addition of the new SL400 “entry-level” model to the Mercedes-Benz SL lineup brings this wide-ranging roadster near the top of this list. Topping the lineup is the more powerful of two AMG-tuned models, the SL65 AMG, which gets its ridiculous 621 hp and 738 lb-ft of torque from a twin-turbo V-12 engine. All versions of the car feature a retractable hardtop design and classic styling cues that are meant to evoke Mercedes SL roadsters of yore.

4. Porsche 911: 2.29

911 Carrera: $85,295

911 Turbo S Cabriolet: $195,595

It’s no surprise that yet another Porsche sits near the top of this list, as the legendary Porsche 911 sports car lineup has ballooned into 16 separate models ranging from sporty to unbelievably powerful. The base version quoted here comes standard with a 350-hp, naturally aspirated boxer six, while the most expensive Turbo S Cabriolet is a forced-induction, all-wheel drive, 560-hp monster that can accelerate from 0-60 mph in less than 3.0 seconds.

5. Dodge Challenger: 2.22

V-6: $26,995

Hellcat: $59,995

The new 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat has taken the musclecar to new heights with its insane 707-hp, 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 engine. In fact, the ratio between the horsepower rating of the Hellcat and the Challenger V-6 is even more extreme than the price differential between these two models, as the huge Hemi V-8 puts out 2.3 times more power than the 305-hp, 3.6-liter V-6 that comes standard in the base Challenger SXT.

6. Chevrolet Spark: 2.19

Base: $12,170

EV: $26,685

Creating an electric vehicle is an expensive undertaking, and the Chevrolet Spark EV illustrates this trend with its huge price premium over the base Spark hatchback. For all the extra cost, you do get quite a different driving experience, though, as the Chevrolet Spark EV’s 140 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque propel this tiny subcompact around with much more authority than the base, 84-hp four-cylinder gas engine. Unfortunately, the Chevrolet Spark EV is sold only in California and Oregon for now.

7. Kia Soul EV: 2.16

Base: $15,900

EV: $34,500

Kia recently announced pricing for its first-ever electric vehicle, the 2015 Kia Soul EV, and it starts at more than double the cost of the base Kia Soul with its 1.6-liter gas engine and six-speed manual transmission. The electric version, which looks similar to the standard car but with different wheels, a closed-off grille, and its own funky two-tone color schemes, has a driving range of 93 miles thanks to its lithium-polymer battery pack mounted under the seats. Since it’s only sold in California, though, don’t expect this EV to sell nearly as well as the standard Kia Soul, which has been a big hit for Kia since it first came to the U.S. in 2010. Maybe the memorable hamster ad campaign deserves some of the credit…

8. Jeep Grand Cherokee: 2.14

Laredo 4×2 V-6: $30,490

SRT: $65,375

The Jeep Grand Cherokee has always aspired to compete with more premium brands, and the Hemi V-8-powered Grand Cherokee SRT is a performance-oriented SUV in a similar vein as big German bruisers like the BMW X5M and Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG. But just because the base version costs less than half as much doesn’t mean that it’s a bargain-bin special, because all versions of this Jeep SUV are capable and comfortable, with many premium features.

9. Smart ForTwo: 2.05

Pure Coupe: $14,020

Electric Drive Cabrio: $28,750

While the plucky smart fortwo city car never really took off in the U.S. market, Smart still offers multiple versions of this tiny two-seater. While the base coupe is a stripped-out economy car lacking basic equipment like power windows and cruise control, the Smart EV has an advanced all-electric drivetrain and is even available as a convertible model for a little extra flair.

10. Ford Focus: 2.04

S: $17,635

Electric: $35,995

The Ford Focus is another example of how an electrified model can push the price boundaries of a compact car. The Ford Focus Electric’s high starting price has been blamed for that model’s slow sales, although Ford did cut the price by a whopping $4000 for 2014. Even still, the EV version of Ford’s compact still costs more than twice as much as a base model Focus S sedan with a manual transmission.

The post Top 10 Cars with the Greatest Price Differentials appeared first on Automobile Magazine.

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Watch a Smart Fortwo Crash-Tested With a Mercedes-Benz S-Class http://www.automobilemag.com/news/watch-a-smart-fortwo-crash-tested-with-mercedes-benz-s-class/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/watch-a-smart-fortwo-crash-tested-with-mercedes-benz-s-class/#respond Fri, 18 Jul 2014 17:30:00 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/news/watch-a-smart-fortwo-crash-tested-with-mercedes-benz-s-class/ Does size matter in a head-on collision?

The post Watch a Smart Fortwo Crash-Tested With a Mercedes-Benz S-Class appeared first on Automobile Magazine.

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Conventional wisdom holds that larger vehicles are always safer in an accident, which can make it tough to convince shoppers to buy a small car. To counter that argument, Mercedes-Benz produced this video showing how its smallest car, the 2016 Smart Fortwo, fares in a 50-percent overlap head-on crash with one of its largest cars, the 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

2016 smart fortwo with mercedes benz s class crash test crash 2016 smart fortwo with mercedes benz s class crash test before crash 2016 smart fortwo with mercedes benz s class crash test approaching

The size disparity between the two cars is dramatic. The 2016 smart fortwo used for the crash test weighs just 2478 pounds and measures 105.9 inches long and 65.4 inches wide. The 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class, meanwhile, tips the scale at 5088 pounds and measures 206.5 inches by 74.8 inches. According to Mercedes, the size differential means the S-Class has more than twice as much kinetic energy as the 2016 Smart Fortwo when the pair meets at 31 mph in the head-on crash.

As the video clearly shows, both the 2016 Smart Fortwo and the 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class keep their passenger compartments safe and unharmed by absorbing as much energy as possible in crumple zones. The Fortwo uses high-strength steel for 51 percent of its construction and ultra-high-strength steel for 13 percent of its body, helping protect occupants despite the car’s considerably smaller size. Though the crash shown here looks dramatic, Mercedes says that the dummies reported forces that were within “biomechanical limits” — in other words, a human could have survived this impact.

The 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class is already on sale in the U.S. in S550, S63 AMG, and S65 AMG variants. The 2016 Smart Fortwo goes on sale here in fall 2015. Check out the video below to see how the two cars fare in a dramatic collision.

The post Watch a Smart Fortwo Crash-Tested With a Mercedes-Benz S-Class appeared first on Automobile Magazine.

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