Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins
Trust me when I say there are not too many little vehicles that I feel comfortable driving. I like big body packages replete with the latest technology and innovation. So of course when I played one-on-one alongside the 2016 smart fortwo, often I wondered if expectations would be satisfied. Nevertheless, nimble, energetic, and ultra crafty is what you will come to expect from the latest rendition of the micro car. It is ideal for the city, connected to an array of apps, and easy to park almost anywhere on crowded, busy streets.
Created by passionate designers and engineers, Daimler formed an interconnected network for the smart fortwo to thrive within, and has designated four key “smart cities” to serve as ambassador communities, one of which is Portland, Oregon. I love this eclectic and flourishing town for its health consciousness, fitness focused citizens, and artsy, thrilling vibe. Green smoothies, hip music, and an environmentally friendly infrastructure are just a few of Portland’s attributes. It’s also home to one of my favorite brands — Nike — where I escorted the vehicle to pick up some fresh back-to-school gear at the Nike Employee Store. Though, I had to use their shipping option due to the very limited rear cargo area. Since the European auto brand is popular in Oregon you will also find specific parking spots around town relegated to only smart cars.
If you have profound affection for efficiency then smart fortwo should be at the top of your list. The little guy features a new 3-liter engine powered by a mere 89-horsepower and 100 lb-ft of torque and can reach a top speed of 96 mph. Of course all-out acceleration is not its forte, but craftiness is. It tips the scale at only 1,984 lbs., so power becomes relative to weight. With that, the smart moves fast enough for typical driving scenarios and has the simple maneuverability of mice through mazes. There were quite a few times when I had to make u-turns during a scavenger hunt looking for Portland’s most charismatic landmarks. With all four 16” alloy wheels (15” base size) situated at the corners of the vehicle, the 22.8” turning radius allowed me to dip in and out of tight situations effortlessly.
Starting at $14,650, the smart fortwo can be elevated by an array of packages and options to distinguish itself from the crowd. With a choice of 40 color combos, my “black and cool silver tridion cell prime” coated ride was equipped decisively:
- $600 “sport package” with 16” 8-Y-spoke light alloy wheels, chrome exhaust tips, alloy pedals, shift paddles, and a -10mm lowered suspension.
- $2,840 prime trim line and lighting package, heated seats, panorama sunroof, fog lamps, leather multifunction steering wheel, powered and heated mirrors, retractable cargo cover, and rain & light sensor.
- $990 twinamic dct. The 6-speed dual-clutch transmission (dct) adds a bit of dynamics to the vehicle but does sputter at low rpms. It seems confused until you accelerate and upshift. A 5-speed manual is standard.
- $100 smartphone cradle.
The other three packages to choose from include the base model “pure” package, the $1,490 “passion” package, or the $3,830 “proxy” package which provides 16” 5-twin-spoke light-alloy rims and the JBL Sound Systems. As stated, the smart fortwo is very nimble around town. A 4” increase in width to 65.47” offers more stability than its predecessor.
Slide inside the smart and you won’t feel claustrophobic at all. In fact, lively, multi-color, and textile fabrics create a larger atmosphere. The passenger seat can be laid forwarded for additional storage when traveling solo and large buttons and function controls are ergonomic. Intuitive communication between your vehicle and the outside world is linked by way of the smart cross connect app. Connecting by way of Bluetooth, you can integrate navigation, music, vehicle information, address book, call features, and parking spots through your smartphone. Everything worked seamlessly on our iPhone except the navigation which froze up a few times since it was a test model.
What more can I say? The smart fortwo is a specific vehicle for specific people in specific cities. Demand has grown 30% over the last year and awareness of the spiffy brand continues to cascade over the norm. Are you smart enough to purchase a vehicle with characteristics ideal for populated cities? I think so.