By on August 30, 2015

2015-Smart-ForTwo-ForFour_

The next-generation Smart Fortwo, expected to go on sale in North America shortly, won’t achieve the magical 40-mpg benchmark in highway driving, reports Car & Driver.

Fuel economy for the Mercedes microcar will stay similar to the current generation at 33 mpg city and 39 mpg highway when equipped with the automatic transmission. Manual models will get the same highway fuel economy, but give up 1 mpg on the city cycle.

Not all is bad. Performance of the 2016 Smart Fortwo will increase thanks to a 19 horsepower bump in output, from 70 hp to 89 hp. Torque receives a relatively massive increase from 68 lb-ft to 100 lb-ft.

Those looking for increased efficiency will be able to shell out for the Fortwo Electric Drive toward the end of next year, but prepare to spend big bucks for it if the current model is any indication. The base price of the Fortwo ED is $25,000 before federal and local incentives in the U.S.

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60 Comments on “2016 Smart Fortwo Won’t Hit Magic 40 MPG...”


  • avatar
    pragmatic

    This car was never about fuel economy or cost to operate. The current car requires premium fuel and gets worse fuel economy than several other small cars. This car is about making a statement and not performing up to others in the segment, as are most cars (other than maybe the S-class) marketed by Mercedes.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      This car is about ease of parking, and very little else. It is a perfect solution for a problem that is relatively rare in the US, but if you have that problem they are pretty great. Though realistically a Fiat 500 is about 80% as easy to park, and about 300% more fun and useful.

      Highway fuel economy is pretty irrelevant on a car that is meant to be an urban runabout, and given you generally don’t put a ton of miles on in the city 33mpg is just fine there. Nobody is doing a 100 mile round-trip commute in these things.

      Though given the insanely cheap lease deals on the electric version, if I still had a commute I would probably get one.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      The Smart was designed so that it be parked perpendicularly in a parallel space. One can get away with that in Europe, but not in the US where parking restrictions tend to be stricter.

      • 0 avatar
        dantes_inferno

        > 2016 Smart Fortwo Won’t Hit Magic 40 MPG

        Especially if it gets hit by a bus.

      • 0 avatar
        Maymar

        A couple who parks around the corner from me in my condo do the sideways parking thing so they can fit a smart and a newer Focus hatchback into their one parking spot. Takes up less space than the Ram that parks next to them. Never mind the street parking where there’s no regulated space size, just the chaos of however many cars fit between two set points (which, I did, and I could’ve benefited from a smart at times), there’s still a point to it.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          Anyone who has spent time in European cities can grasp the theory behind it. Parking is scarce, so make a car that can fit into a space that would otherwise be unusable by anything more than a motorcycle.

          Nice theory, bad practice. Turns out that there isn’t much demand for such a thing, even in Europe. If you live in a place with parking that miserable, then chances are good that you have good public transport available and don’t need to drive that often, so the size of the car isn’t all that important.

        • 0 avatar
          wumpus

          Sometime after the Smart was released the NYTimes had an article that claimed a garage added $1,000,000 to the price of a house (in NYC, natch). Presumably anyone who could somehow afford a [single space] garage should put two Smart cars and put the Austin/Navagator/Whatever in a NJ garage.

          Of course the real use of a Smart in the US is as a “all roads capable” golf cart. Failing to get USGA certification (is there such a thing?) doomed it to its present state.

      • 0 avatar

        You could with the first edition that was short enough. Not any more. And the complaint was that despite being able to put two Smart cars in one parking space you’d still pay as if it was just one car occupying one space. Short shouldn’t be the issue (also for safety reasons). A car’s width should.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        And -normally- in the US, you don’t NEED to do that as we have Lincoln sized parking spaces.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      And you know this how, Pragmatic? Do you own and drive one? Do you know somebody that owns and drives one? Or are you basing this strictly on uneducated opinion?

      Yes, it requires premium fuel–or at least mid-grade fuel–but that means the engine is more efficient and more powerful than it would be otherwise. It is quicker than you might imagine. Yes, it is exceedingly nimble and easy to park; but also surprisingly comfortable and roomy for the driver and passenger. And the current model well exceeds 40mpg, which leads me to believe the testers at Car and Driver weren’t driving it as it was meant to drive–smoothly and steadily–but as a performance car where that engine’s lack of mass means it has to work harder for those quick changes in speed.

      How do I know? I personally know a Smart Car owner–a man who stands over six feet tall–and he has demonstrated that car’s abilities to me. I expect the new model is better than C&D are letting on.

      • 0 avatar
        rofergZ28

        Seconding this…!

        I’ve got a first-gen 2005 diesel ForTwo cabrio (the ones you Americans never got). My current average is 44.4 MPG over the 13 months I’ve owned it, and although it’s not my only car (also an 06 Grand Caravan and a 95 Z28 convertible in the fleet), it is the primary one I drive to and from work every day.

        It’s fantastic to take downtown with tight street parking, and it makes up for its gutlessness by zipping in and out of traffic holes nobody else can fit into. And it’s deceptively big inside – I would know, as I’m 5’10” and 350lbs, and I fit perfectly and comfortably inside.

        As soon as the 2016 (2017, maybe?) cabrios come out, I’ll be down to take a very close look at one.

        • 0 avatar
          joeveto3

          I’ve always been a fan of the smart car. I like small and quirky. I like minimalism. Like a motorcycle, this thing strikes me as an awesome opportunity to pack light and go cross country, seeing it from a slightly different perspective.

          When the first US generation was announced, I put a deposit on one. I backed out when I learned no diesel option would be available and no cruise. But I still look at them, I like them, and every year when I sit in them at the auto show, I contemplate buying one.

          I have a Harley Road King I love. But there are times when I imagine a smart in its spot in the garage. I would use the smart in the same way as I do the Harley, fun stuff, but probably a lot more often, and I would not be as afraid of the texters on the road, driving as if they are getting paid to kill me.

      • 0 avatar
        pragmatic

        Its not and has never been about fuel economy. How can an engine that uses fuel that is more expensive be about efficiency. Yes the engine is more fuel efficient but at today’s fuel prices those 33/39 EPA figures would cost the same as a car using regular that gets 30/36. At 30/36 there are many better choices (from a fuel economy perspective).

        I’ll say one more time so that you may understand my point: This car was never about fuel economy. I don’t need to own one or drive one to see this.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          In Europe, regular fuel is about 90-91 octane on the US AKI scale. The Smart was made to run on what we call premium because that is normal fuel in its home market.

          As it stands, the Smart has one of the highest MPG ratings of any gasoline non-hybrid sold in the US.

          You have many opinions. Facts, not so much.

          • 0 avatar
            pragmatic

            Adjusting for the cost difference between regular and mid grade, using only vehicles that will operate on regular, the EPA database shows there are 39 car models/sub-models that get better fuel economy than the Smart cars available for sale in the US in 2015.

            Two of these are listed as able to operate on regular but premium recommended (Jetta Hybrid and Fiat 500). Both Smart models are listed as premium required. Of these 39, 18 are hybrids the rest (21) are conventional gasoline.

            I used 30 city and 36 highway rather than the Smart rated 33/39 because DOE lists average mid-grade at $2.734 and regular at $2.510 (for the week ending 8/31/15) and 30 MPG at $2.51 per gallon equals 33 at $2.71.

            There are 17 diesels but I did not include them because I did not feel like adjusting for the higher price of diesel fuel.

            Again fuel economy is not the point of these cars. Parking size is one point, maneuverability in the city in another and making a statement is a third but not fuel economy.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I made a point about gasoline-powered cars that weren’t hybrids. The only thing that you are proving by listing a bunch of hybrids is that you don’t understand the point that was made.

            Incidentally, the definition of “efficiency” isn’t “a car that uses lower octane fuel.”

          • 0 avatar
            pragmatic

            Fail at read comprehension? Reread my last, post 21 are non hybrid gasoline powered.
            Shouldn’t take things too personally.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Your internet must be broken. Combined MPG estimates for gas non-hybrids with automatics or CVTs, per FuelEconomy.gov:

            40: Mirage
            37: Scion iQ, Mazda 2, Scion iA, Yaris
            36: Smart, Fit, Fiesta with 1.0 liter turbo

            Everything else is below that. The Smart is among the top, which is not surprising given the size and power output.

            You are quite intent on believing something that is inaccurate. The next model will add a gear, so one would expect a slight bump in MPG, which should annoy you to no end.

        • 0 avatar
          joquito

          You do realize the Fortwo’s US launch was in 2008, when 33/41 was far from typical. Its parking advantages and styling persuaded some, but it takes a revisionist’s history to deny the appeal of its fuel economy back then.

          Today, only a fool would purchase one (2015 or 2016), and that’s coming from an ’09 Fortwo owner.

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    I’d buy a lifted version. Like a high chair on wheels.

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    the iQ is a much better car by just about all standards. too bad it was brought out too late and not marketed very well. seems like the micro city car niche would have enough sales for more than one car

    • 0 avatar
      Car-los

      And as an added bonus the IQ shares platform with the Aston Martin Cygnet, petty James Bond never used it…

      • 0 avatar
        Johnster

        Damn that petty James Bond!

        • 0 avatar
          wmba

          You lot do realize we’re talking about the new Smart car?

          It’s a shortened Renault Twingo, just another example of the Renault/Nissan and Mercedes hookup, which lets Infiniti make 2.0 litre mercedes turbo fours for the US made C Class and world versions of the Q50.

          It’s worthwhile keeping up on the changing business instead of making comments on product no longer available.

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    The Smart isn’t about highway numbers. You can and will get better highway mileage with a car that has better aerodynamics, like an Eco Cruze or a Dart Aero. It’s not a problem with the car’s technology, just the fact that it’s a lot easier to streamline a longer car.

    That being said, real-world city numbers are phenomenal. I rented one on vacation last year, and the fuel burn would have made a 50cc scooter jealous. It was also a whole lot more fun to drive in the city than a Prius or a Sentra. Sure, the transmission on the outgoing model sucked, but everything else was good.

    This new version should be interesting, with all-new transmissions (including a manual!) and more power.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    I really liked the previous generation car… on paper.

    When I actually drove one, I liked everything about it besides the godawful transmission. Before I actually got off the dealer’s lot, I knew I couldn’t live with that.

    I’ll go drive the new one, with a proper clutch. Since I do 80% of my driving in the city, highway mpg numbers are essentially irrelevant.

    I think it’s priced around $14k. At that price point, I like it better than a Rio, Accent, or Mirage.

    • 0 avatar
      jpolicke

      $14k can get you a clean ’08-’09ish Miata. Small, seats two, holds more, at least as reliable, doesn’t make you look like a dork. There’s more to life than MPG.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Epic, colossal, stunning, fail.

    A Chevy Spark is 31/39 – seats four – and can legitimately seat four adults, is $12.5K for a LS stripper with $1.5K on the hood. About equal HP (84) but less torque (83). So $11K before you beat up the dealer to take one.

    The Spark is A segment (really a tweener) as the Sonic is the B segment offering.

    The Fiat 500 Pop has $1750 on the hood and gets 31/40 MPG, sticker is $16.8 before the dealer begs you to buy it and cash on the hood. The Fiat 500 Pop has 101 HP and 98 pound feet of torque. The 500 can seat 4 in a crisis.

    Gas is around $2.40 a gallon national average and will likely punch through $2.00 by winter. So beyond the Cars2Go fleet – who would ANYONE buy this dog???

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      You buy this car if you only need two seats and you live in a place where parking is impossible. Boston, NYC, San Francisco. Even parts of my own native Portland Maine are an absolute parking horror show, especially in the winter.

      Highway mpg is largely a function of aerodynamics, and there is no way to make something this short and tall have anything but the aerodynamics of a barn door.

      And as been said on here many times, “mpg” is a lousy way to look at fuel economy. The difference between 39 and 40 is minimal, while the difference between 10 and 11 is significant.

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        If you put the drivetrain from the new smart in a 1st-gen Insight, the highway mileage would probably come in around 55 mpg. Not much you can do with a short box and a sharp rear cutoff. Having said that, I ended up with a lifetime average of 42 mpg in my ’08.

      • 0 avatar
        derekson

        “And as been said on here many times, “mpg” is a lousy way to look at fuel economy. The difference between 39 and 40 is minimal, while the difference between 10 and 11 is significant.”

        Even ignoring the scaling issues with MPG, it doesn’t really make sense to measure fuel mileage rather than fuel consumption. No one goes shopping thinking “I use 4 gallons of gas per day, how many miles can the car take me?” Everyone has a distance they typically travel, and fuel consumption per 50 or 100 miles would be a much more logical number to use in that context. And obviously the numbers are easily to compare logically as well.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      The Spark is a cheap car, full stop. It looks cheap, it feels cheap, it’s just filled with all kinds of (old) Korean-grade plastics. I can’t speak to the new smart, but the old one at least made an attempt at being a little more premium. Admittedly, this was premium for 2007, and the market caught up significantly since then, but still, it’s possible that the new one will also be a nicer option than other sub-$15k car.

      • 0 avatar
        dantes_inferno

        > The Spark is a cheap car, full stop. It looks cheap, it feels cheap, it’s just filled with all kinds of (old) Korean-grade plastics. I can’t speak to the new smart, but the old one at least made an attempt at being a little more premium. Admittedly, this was premium for 2007, and the market caught up significantly since then, but still, it’s possible that the new one will also be a nicer option than other sub-$15k car.

        I wonder how it will do in IIHS crash testing…. hmmm…

        • 0 avatar
          Lack Thereof

          No need to wonder, we can look it up. The Spark is a “Top pick” for subcompacts (along with the Fit and Prius C)

          The Smart does almost as well, but IIHS has some complaints about the head restraints, which Mercedes will probably address in the new model.

          The Rio, Accent and Mazda 5 are the backmarkers, far worse than anything else sold today in any size class.

  • avatar
    kmars2009

    An actual Mercedes version, totes loaded, would be sweet.

  • avatar
    Joss

    I prefer my Brompton. You didn’t mention the cabrio.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    Now that it finally has a proper manual the Smart is basically a Honda Beat / S660 that people in the US can actually buy.

    A rear wheel drive, mid-engine manual transmission German car for under $15K is something I will test drive.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      But the Honda is so cool, youll get freezer burn by driving it. It looks like a little go cart or mini hot rod. This, on the other hand, is much improved from before, but still looks like a short shopping cart because its so upright and pedestrian looking.

      I hated the previous one, I really like the headlights and facia on this one compared to before (it seems to have depth, thats the best I can use to describe it). Remember, though Diamler tried marketing the first Smart in Japan as a kei car, it failed miserably. The Japanese certainly know how to make excellent micro cars, though I have the same issue with the iQ that I do with the Smart: too tall, looks choppy instead of smooth or boxy like the good keis IMO.

    • 0 avatar
      SunnyvaleCA

      >>> A rear wheel drive, mid-engine manual transmission German car for under $15K <<<

      I never thought of it that way! The next hard-top up the price range in that category is a Porsche Cayman, which starts somewhere north of $50k.

      Are we actually getting the stick-shift here in the USA?

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      A Honda Beat would be very cool.
      The chopped off French car made by Mercedes hasn’t done much to make itself a contender in the US, just an also-ran.

  • avatar
    alexndr333

    I’d be more worried about whether or not it could reach 40 MPH.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      90 horsepower in a 2,000 pound car is “more than adequate”. The outgoing model was electronically limited to 90 mph. To hazard a guess, the aero limit for the new one is probably around 115mph.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      Small cars dont need much power. My 90 Festiva had 63, my 99 Saturn SL about 100, both were 5 spds and did just fine. The Festiva in particular was fun to thrash around town.

      Some buddies on a forum I was on at the time made fun (politely) about the Festiva being so weak and by their opinion, painfully slow as a result. Next message, I posted a pic of the speedometer buried past 85 (it was pinned against the bottom of the instrument cluster) but didnt say a word.

      “Holy $#¡Г!”

      Lol a picture was worth a thousand words that day.

      I had several 4 cyl Tempos, they were not terribly slow and the had less than 100 hp. My buddy has a 91 Escort as a commuter, 88 hp with a 5spd, he says it flies down I-5.

    • 0 avatar
      Lack Thereof

      89 horsepower in an 1800 pound car, and you’re worred about it reaching 40 MPH?

      An ’80 Tercel only had 60 HP to move it.
      The original Civic sedan only made 55 hp.

      Base model inline-sixes in big American cars used to make 80-90 hp, and we had no trouble cruising Granadas and Caprices on the freeway at 85 MPH. The first-generation Camry, fuel injection and everything, was in the same neighborhood.

      Maybe we should talk about the original Dodge Grand Caravan, which used 84 hp and a 3-speed automatic to move 3000 pounds? Or VW vans which moved a similar weight with only 47hp?

      KIDS THESE DAYS!

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      I had an ’85 Ford EXP with around 80 HP – weight was 2000 pounds. If you pushed it for all it was worth you could easily find well over 100 MPH.

      I’d rather not reveal how I know this, but I will say the Escort/EXP speedometer heads will break off once the needle hits the trip odometer reset button inside the bezel. That was well north of the 85 MPH speedometer.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

        Lol talking about the speedo needle breaking. The little pin that held the tach needle at 0 broke off in my 1987 Escort GT (my first car). So, the tach was about useless, it was easily at redline showing like 2500 RPMs and when the car was switched off, it would drop down pointing to the floor.

        Ive seen Tempo/Topaz tachometers spun way over past where theyre supposed to go, dont know what happens there. All the times (MANY) that I bounced off the rev limiter in my 92 Tempo LX V-6, it never did that. I finally had to pay $89 for the rare 120 MPH speedo as the needle spent a lot of time past 85.

        You also reminded me of getting pulled over in Utah for going 93-95 (cant remember which) in a loaded down 1983 Mercury Zephyr GS sedan with the 200 C.I. (3.3L) Inilne-6. What, maybe 90 hp new? It had over 220k on it.
        The officer asked what we’ve all heard that dreaded moment when the window comes down and its time to face up to what youve done: “Do you know how fast you were going?”
        My only response was: “No sir. The speedometer only reads to 85.” With a perfectly straight face, somehow.
        He said “well you know thats way above the speed limit!”
        He actually cut me a huge break. Wrote me for 75 in a 70. $50 was all it was. He ignored all the illegal things about the car (expired tags, not in my name, etc lol) and didnt even search it (was nothing to find if he did). Oh, to be 20 and stupid again.

  • avatar
    dantes_inferno

    Hulk can’t fit in Smart Fortwo.

    Hulk SMASH!

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    Where they messed up was the branding. Put the pointy thing on the grille, call it a “Benz For Two,” and they wouldn’t have been able to keep them on the lots.

    Because Benz, ya know.

  • avatar
    Duaney

    The older Saturns would regularly get 45 mpg highway. My Chevette diesel gets 45-55 mpg, has twice the room of the Smart, plus has trunk space. Rename the Smart car, the Dumb car.

  • avatar
    redav

    Since it is inherently a city car, why not just go all-EV & dump any ICE option? Range should never be an issue, and it already has an EV-esque top speed. It would solve all their transmission issues.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      Since part of the smart’s appeal is for street parking, plenty of owners would have no where to charge it.

    • 0 avatar
      Lack Thereof

      The reason is right in your post: It’s a city car. It’s made for street parking. Which means the target buyer has no place to plug it in.

      Also, C&D tested the EV version a year and a half ago and declared it horrible. It placed 6th in a 6-car EV comparo. City-dwellers with the infrastructure to charge a car at home are advised to buy the Spark EV instead.

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