World-beating economy lifts the appeal of the new Smart, despite miserable pace.

What is it?

The ‘world’s most economical production car,’ or at least that's the title Smart touts with pride when talking about its new diesel-powered ForTwo CDI.

In the process Smart is sticking its finger up at the hybrid crowd who have, rightly or wrongly, been held up as the saviour of motoring recently.

Sadly, it’s also a title which is lost on Smart here in the UK. For despite its diesel-sipping attributes, the super-frugal city car is not planned to be sold on these shores, at least not in the immediate future.

That’s a pity, because with combined cycle fuel consumption of 85.6mpg and a CO2 rating of just 88g/km, the new two-seater would appear to hold obvious appeal for those faced with the grind of a daily city commute.

What's it like?

It’s no pocket rocket, granted. But as a way of easing the stress and financial burden that comes with traffic-clogged roads at either end of each working day, it seems to have a lot going for it.

Whereas the second-generation petrol ForTwo receives a brand-new 1.0-litre engine from Mitsubishi, the diesel variant retains its predecessor’s 800cc three-cylinder unit. Detailed upgrades, including the adoption of the latest common-rail injection system operating at 1600bar as opposed to a previous 1350bar, extend power by 4bhp to 45bhp at 3800rpm, with torque up 10lb ft, to 81lb ft at 2000rpm.

Despite the gains, the performance is blunted to a certain extent by the new Smart’s weight, which has risen by 40kg in coupé guise to 780kg. As a result, the 0-62mph time remains at a leisurely 19.8sec, while top speed is limited to 84mph.

Although down on outright acceleration, the new Smart is relatively torquey, but it’s a car that is clearly happiest in the city environment. Venture onto the motorway and it immediately feels overwhelmed. The new ForTwo’s much-improved dynamics haven’t been affected by the use of a diesel engine, though; the steering, handling and ride represent huge steps over the first model.

Should I buy one?

If you live in Europe and want a frugal, easy-to-park city runabout, yes. But sadly Brits can't buy it.

Join the debate

Add a comment…
MarkusMorelli 29 March 2009

Re: Smart ForTwo cdi

I would like to reply to Will86... First of all I dont know if you have test driven one. I have and I have to say that the cdi definitely has got enough poke for city driving. It is also good on B roads, the only place where it struggles is the autobahn. It struggles partly because of not enough power and patly because cross winds affect it a lot. The things that I really not like are the noise of the engine, partly the gearbox and the the fact you can easily scratch and damage the bodywork on kerbs and other city obstacles. Other than that it is terrific. I have not driven three people or more in my current car for a long long time - 6 months I think - only myself and my woman - so a smart car is an interesting proposition to cut automotive expenses. In the past I have spent a fortune in various cars in the past and I do not think anymore that it is worthy to work like an idiot all day for a nice set of wheels ... just my opinion.

Will86 29 March 2009

Re: Smart ForTwo cdi

Well we can buy it now, but surely this car borders on dangerously slow. You may get away with it in town but on the open road you will struggle.

But heres an interesting thought, this car has emissions of 88g/km CO2, but is only a two seater. There are a number of four/five seater cars which have emissions of 98-99 g/km CO2. So to transport more than 2 people you will need 2 cars, very economic!

Ok so most journeys have only one person in the car, but I can promise you there will be times when you need more seats and will be longing after that Fiesta Econetic. Plus, given how underpowered it is, even for a small car, how close will you actually get to that economy figure?