Thanks in part to its 11mm-wider tracks and a wheelbase stretched by 55mm – and also to what feels like marginally softer suspension – Smart has remedied one of our biggest dynamic complaints about the previous-generation ForTwo: its ride.
Whereas it was crashy and lacking pliancy before, it is now more forgiving and sophisticated in feel. What you’d kindly have described as ‘kart-like’ has been transformed this time round into something with half-decent bump absorption, at the expense of some fore/aft pitch. And although the ForTwo’s ride is still not as compliant or deft as its rivals’, speed ramps are no longer best taken at walking pace.
What hasn’t changed so much is the feel of the ForTwo’s unassisted steering. As before, it’s accurate, and it improves on the old one by now being linear in response right from straight ahead. But it still feels a little dead and is too heavy at parking speeds. Power assistance is optional.
Handling? This is still a short car that depends on its brutal, if effective, stability control system and skinny front tyres to keep it on its wheels. Its bigger footprint and better suspension geometry improve stability – notably in crosswinds and the ‘wash’ of trucks on motorways. It still understeers, but front grip is now strong and predictable.
Attempt a high-speed lane change and the ForTwo’s standard, unswitchable ESP system simply will not have it. The thin-section front tyres lack the grip to make the manoeuvre and the stability control won’t help tuck the front in. Instead, its efforts are aimed at reducing roll-over.