What is it?
The newly updated Smart Fortwo CDI. The diminutive diesel two-seater now gets 21 per cent more power and 18 per cent more torque from the 0.8-litre three-pot turbodiesel engine, giving it 54bhp and 96lb ft of torque.
This significant jump in power means the new Smart CDI also gets three seconds cut off its 0-62mph time, reducing it to a more bearable 16.8sec.
Yet with all the added output, the headline figures are barely changed at just 89g/km and 83.1mpg, meaning that the oil-burning Smart continues to be the most economical combustion-engined car on sale.
The interior has also been freshened up with black dials and indicator stalks replacing the old grey ones. A new five-speed semi-automatic gearbox also offers fully automatic or manual modes.
What’s it like?
Generally it’s a successful upgrade. The alterations have improved the aspects that most needed to be changed.
The extra power means the Smart Fortwo CDI is now much more capable of keeping up with fast-moving traffic, and yet its tiny footprint and turning circle still make it one of the most convenient city cars.
The black dials also look good, are clear to read and add a touch of class to the cabin.
But this is still an essentially flawed car.
The new gearbox is an improvement in many respects but is painfully slow to change up in automatic mode, and the car rocks forwards and backwards on its soft suspension with every gearchange.
Using manual mode and some subtle throttle usage does allow you to drive smoothly, but this requires more concentration and effort than should be needed in a car designed to thread through narrow and congested streets with ease.
A kickdown function is also new to the 2009 Fortwo CDI, but it’s too slow to react to really be useful in any situation needing quick acceleration.