For a small cabrio it manages to keep the wind out with the top down
For a small cabrio it manages to keep the wind out with the top down

Smart Fortwo Cabrio 71 Prime Twinamic, car review: A city car that can lose its top in 12 seconds flat

You can turn your Smart into a fashion accessory, which is good because you won’t turn it into a great car

John Calne
Friday 25 March 2016 15:56
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Summer is on its way, and it’s heading to town and country alike. If you spend most of your time in the former and as good as none in the latter, this could be the perfect way to enjoy it.

The Fortwo Cabrio has a roof that can fold down in 12 seconds. That’s nice and quick, though of course the car’s so tiny it hardly has any distance to cover.

But as always, for such a small car there’s a remarkable amount of room in the cabin. There’s also no small amount of equipment – our mid-range tester had climate, Bluetooth and a USB port among other things.

The Fortwo Cabrio is everything you expect of a Smart

Is it worth spending the extra on the range-topping Proxy model? It’s your money, but we wouldn’t bother.

On the road, the Fortwo Cabrio is everything you expect of a Smart. It’s small, agile and brisk to steer, it can turn on a sixpence and you can park it behind the sofa.

In this case, the briskness comes from a 1.0-litre three-pot putting out 70bhp. It comes with a five-speed manual as standard, but we’re testing it with the optional dual-clutch auto, a six-speed unit which is adequate but not always quite up with the pace.

As always, there’s a remarkable amount of room in the cabin

Take it out of town, and basically it’s never up with the pace. You’ve got to drive it like you hate it just to stop all the people behind from hating you. Which is entirely forgivable because this is absolutely a car designed for the city and the city only.

Smart Fortwo Cabrio 71 Prime

Location: Surrey
On sale: Now
Price: £15,550
Engine: 3 cyls, 999cc, petrol
Power: 70bhp at 6000rpm
Torque: 67lb ft at 2850rpm
Gearbox: 6-spd dual-clutch auto
Kerb weight: 975kg
0-62mph 15.5sec
Top speed 94mph
Economy 65.7mpg (combined)
CO2/tax band 99g/km, 13%

Not that it rides very well in the city, or indeed anywhere else. Its light weight makes it bouncy and its tiny wheelbase means it rarely settles. Out of town, its steering feels nervous – though if that’s the payoff for it being so good at low speeds, then so be it.

It might not ride very well, but for a small cabrio it manages to keep the wind out with the top down. You do get treated to a bit of road noise, but you’ll arrive with your hairdo intact.

There are better options out there if you want a ragtop for the city

Your bank balance will suffer a bit, though. Soft-tops almost always cost more than the coupe they’re based on, but even so a £2140 price walk might make you cringe. That’s before you start getting stuck in to the options catalogue – which, this being a Smart, is absolutely loaded with ways to customise the way your car looks.

So you can turn your Smart into a bit of a fashion accessory, which is good because you won’t turn it into a great car. There are better options out there if you want a ragtop for the city – and, being that the most obvious one is the Fiat 500, Smart doesn’t exactly have a monopoly on the whole individuality vibe. It’s Smart enough, this, but the smart money goes elsewhere.

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