We must admit, we started the smart fortwo test drive a little heart gripped with fear about how the little midget automobile will handle its own on the highway. Sure, it has standard electronic stability control, anti-lock braking system, a pretty stiff suspension setup and the center of mass is well below what you'd think just by looking at the car. But, and there's a huge "but", it only weighs 750 kilograms (1653.5 lbs) and it looks like it's about to tip over at the slightest gust of wind.
Well, guess what, we were dead wrong, and about a number of other things smart fortwo-related. First of all, the people at smart and even the car's technical book say that our test car's top speed was supposed to be electronically limited at 145 km/h (91 mph). We've twice tested this and on both occasions we managed to cruise in relative comfort and a feeling of unexpected safety at 155 km/h (96.3 mph), while the tachometer mounted like a snail's eye on top of the dashboard was reading a relatively low 4,500 rpm. As a matter of fact, we weren't the only ones surprised by this since on these two occasions we kind of scared other motorists who were driving at around 120-130 km/h (74-81 mph) in the first lane.
Imagine if you saw a white bug-looking thing on wheels speeding by you on the highway. In other words, we weren't at all scared or traumatized by the experience, mainly thanks to the smart fortwo's stiff suspension setup. Also, the wind noise at these speeds was in the medium to low range, despite the car's not-exactly-aerodynamic shape. Of course, this doesn't mean the fortwo is a very good partner for long range trip, but in case you HAVE to use it outside the city, you won't be in any danger.
The only major downside from cruising this kind of car on the highway comes in the rare situations were you're passing or are being passed by a semi, since the little bugger is very susceptible to lateral winds. The fuel consumption on the other hand is a bit antithetic to what you'd expect from a car with a three-cylinder one-liter engine, even in these uncommon situations. After our relatively high-speed highway test, the smart fortwo had used the equivalent of around 10 liters per 100 kilometers (US 23.5 mpg).
When we returned from our small trip outside the city, the heavy right foot became lighter, thus making the car achieving a much better fuel consumption, of only around 6-6.5 liters per 100 kilometers (US 36-39 mpg). On a non-highway road with medium traffic, that figure diminished to 5.5-6 liters per 100 kilometers (US 39-43 mpg). All in all, we were convinced, the smart fortwo is not just a city dweller, since it can be used on just about any long-distance trip, without taking a huge amount of Xanax before. Of course, assuming you're the type of person who travels the Indian way, light, since the "trunk" can carry between 220 and a compact car-like 340 liters (7.8 to 12 cu ft) of luggage.Continue reading
Hold on, Mary would like to say something...
Nowadays, you can count the really cute cars available on the market with your fingers. Coincidentally, almost all of them are reincarnations of older models, benefiting and basing their success on a retro design. There's the Volkswagen Beetle, the MINI Cooper (in all its versions), the Fiat 500 and a couple of Citroens. Complementing this list with "cuteness", but without any retro design whatsoever, is the little smart fortwo. Even if its so modern-looking, it still gives me a deja-vu feeling, albeit not something to remind me of a car but of a Barbie toy.
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