Previous versions of the Fortwo have been found guilty of trying our patience. Glacial 0-60mph times in cars well shy of one tonne and three metres are not only frustratingly counter-intuitive but also severely limit the usability of some Fortwos beyond the city centre.
The model tested, admittedly more powerful than the entry engine, no longer labours under this description. Although we couldn’t replicate a possibly rather optimistic 0-60mph time of 10.4sec in poor conditions, the 11.2sec the test car managed was sufficient for it to make the national limit an easily achievable speed rather than a distant target.
Achieving it, though, is not as pleasurable as it might have been. Smooth acceleration, particularly when requested in a forceful manner from low revs, seems beyond the blown three-pot engine. The response briefly stuck somewhere between a throttle flat spot and a winded turbocharger.
Consequently, there are times when the Fortwo, for all its implied peppiness, reacts in a rather more suety manner than the one you would experience in, say, a Volkswagen Up. This impression isn’t helped by the gearing on the manual five-speed ’box, which, at a standard 40-50mph A-road clip, tends to leave the car rather breathless in its top cog.
However, the length of its ratios means that motorway journeys previously dreaded by some Smart owners are now well within the new Fortwo’s capabilities. With 30-70mph achieved in 11.4sec, the car is more than 3.5sec quicker than the Volkswagen Up 1.0 we tested.
It doesn’t have to work quite so hard to maintain the legal limit, either, although you’d hardly know it; the rear-engined Smart is still unwelcomingly rowdy at 70mph.