Get involved! Send your photos, video, news & views by texting LU NEWS to 80360 or e-mail us
Look sweet in a carriage made for two
8:00am Thursday 3rd May 2012 in Road Tests
Smart fortwo coupe 71 Passion Boxfresh edition.
Price: £11,700 (on the road).
Top speed: 90mph.
0-60mph: 13.7 seconds.
Fuel: 67.3mpg (combined).
THE funky-looking twoseat Smart has come a long way since it was launched in left-hand-drive form only and today’s right-handdrive versions are much improved, being more stylish, roomier, better built and far more sophisticated.
And the marque is showing a lot more flair, especially with the latest special edition called the Boxfresh, based on the passion coupe with a 71bhp petrol engine.
It’s the result of a collaboration between Smart and fashion firm Boxfresh and boasts some cool designer ideas inside and out to woo many admirers of the citycar range.
But the UK-only exclusive cars are limited in number and are being quickly snapped up.
Indeed, the Smart is a car of our time with splendid fuel returns and low emissions and service costs.
However, it is pricey, starting at £9,200, while the generously- equipped Boxfresh special retails at £11,700.
Of course, there are cheaper runabouts on the market but the rear-engine Smart has a lot going for it with superior build quality, good equipment and an air of exclusivity that turns heads in the high street and will make you feel good driving it.
With the 70bhp one-litre eco-mode petrol engine returning on average 67.3mpg and the .8 litre diesel with 54bhp an everyday figure of 85.6mpg, the little Smart is just the job for running about during these belt-tightening times – providing, of course, you don’t have a family and its luggage to ferry around.
The CO2 emission figures are equally impressive, being as low as 97 (g/km) for the 70bhp petrol unit and 86 (g/km) for the diesel.
Getting in and out of some small cars can be difficult but not so with the Smart which has large and wideopening doors. Inside, the classy cabin is spacious with plenty of head, leg and shoulder room.
The Boxfresh edition comes in for special treatment with large embroidered leather seats, dashboard and handbrake, titanium- finish headlights with LED daytime running lights, power steering, heated seats and black exterior with black 15in special alloy wheels.
There have also been a lot of changes inside to make the cars easier to live with and these include a redesigned instrument cluster and storage places such as net pockets in the driver and passenger doors. The overall impression of the inside is one of quality with the fit and finish being first class. Buttons and switches operate with precision and a feeling of lasting strength as one might expect from the Mercedes empire.
The boot is decent but not big with a split tailgate – a glass opening top and a strong and handy dropdown section, ideal for picnics.
The standard coupe and cabriolet petrol units offer outputs of 70 and 84bhp and different trim levels – pulse and passion.
The cars’ automatic transmission is linked to a stop/start system which works really well and helps improve both fuel consumption and emissions.
However, the transmission takes a little getting used to as it seems rather hesitant but firmer use of the accelerator pedal produces the response needed. The Boxfresh model comes with gear change paddles that are well placed behind the steering wheel to add to the fun of driving the car.
With a wide track, the Smart has good roadholding characteristics and the newer models feel more stable and composed while driving at speed. It corners well and cross winds and mixing with heavy vehicles have little effect on straightline progress.
The improvements are in no small part due to the firm setting of the suspension which remains comfortable over many road surfaces.
On the motorway the 70bhp petrol unit offers a decent cruising speed to enable the driver to keep up with the Joneses and the car seems well insulated against noise.
But the Smart is best in an urban environment where it will nip in and out of the traffic with ease. And, of course, because of its small size, it will fit into the tiniest parking spot.
The Smart comes well equipped. The ordinary passion trim includes airconditioning, a stability programme with traction control, electric windows, alloy wheels, MP3 connection, Bluetooth and satellite navigation. It’s a safe car, too, having achieved four stars in the adult safety European NCAP tests which is excellent considering the car’s small dimensions.
Some runabouts do no more than fulfil basic requirements but the Smart’s character and abilities run deeper.