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CAR OF THE MONTH JANUARY 2008

2008 smart fortwo passion coupe Review

The Perfect Car for Urbanites

A three-quarter front view of a blue and gray 2008 smart fortwo passion coupe

In short: A two-seat city car with great fuel economy.

Born ten years ago and distributed in over 30 countries, this cute-as-a-button, toy-looking, four-wheeled creature is actually a serious car. And if you are serious about helping the environment, this is a good choice, since the overall footprint it leaves is, like itself, minimized. Built in an environmentally-friendly production facility dubbed “Smartville” in Hambach, France, its manufacturing process is optimized, as it only uses water-soluble paint and powder-coating processes that eliminate solvents.

Body panels are fully recyclable and the instrument panel is made from the renewable material flax. Do you have a Swatch watch and want a car to go with it? The fortwo can respond to that demand, as it was spearheaded by the watch company founder Nicolas Hayek as a practical, enviro-conscious device. Now a unit of Daimler-Chrysler, Americans can finally get their hands on it.

The base car, dubbed "pure," is under $12,000, but "passion," the next trim level up, is a good compromise of price, sportiness and efficiency at $14,000. In fact, you’ll get a micro sport car: rear-wheel drive from a rear-mounted engine controlled by a manumatic transmission!

Interior design has made it quite roomy and comfortable and headroom is totally acceptable; much, much better than the micro cars of yesteryear such as the Fiat 500.

Views of the interior and "Tridion" safety cell in the 2008 smart fortwo passion coupe

Many of you are going to be concerned about the safety, but rest assured that the "tridion" safety cell built out of reinforced steel is here to protect you. Its longitudinal and transverse members are designed to activate the crumple zones of the other vehicles involved.

For what it’s designed to do—city driving and ease of parking—the fortwo excels, and is very stylish in the process. So please help the environment and join the more than 30,000 Americans who placed a deposit for their own smart car before distribution even began in the good old U.S. of A.

Read a review of the 2008 smart fortwo passion cabriolet

Read about the smart car's top safety ratings

A three-quarter rear view of a blue and gray 2008 smart fortwo passion coupe

Warranty/Service: Two-year/24,000-mile warranty with the option to upgrade to three-years/36,000-miles.


QUICK SHEET
Base Price: $13,590 / As tested: $14,780

Technical Specifications

Vehicle type: rear-engine, rear-wheel drive, 2-passenger, 3-door hatchback

Engine: 1-liter electronic multipoint injection inline 3-cylinder engine
Horsepower: 70 bhp @ 5800 rpm
Torque: 68 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm
Transmission:
5-speed automated manual

Curb weight: 1,808 lbs
Wheelbase: 73.5 in
Length/Width/Height:
106.1/61.4/60.7 in
Turning circle: 28.7 feet

Brakes: dual-circuit brake system with tandem servo assistance, ABS and electronic brake-force distribution
Suspension:
independent front, live axle rear
Traction:
traction control, hill start assist

0-62 mph: 12.8 seconds
Top Speed: 90 mph

EPA City: 33 mpg
EPA Highway: 41 mpg

Safety: full-size driver and passenger air bags, tridion "safety cell"

 

Check out other smart models
See all of our Automobile Reviews
Visit the smart website

The "smart house," located in Venice Beach, CA

Looking to appeal to the hip urban consumer, smart had created "smart house," a unique temporary showroom on Venice Beach’s trendy Abbot Kinney Blvd. The decorated town villa regularly hosted special events such as private concerts and photo shoots. Angelinos can still visit smart center Beverly Hills to set up a test drive.

Exterior photos: DaimlerChrysler
Interior and dealership photos: AlphaMedia

P062906
(Updated 03/13/09 SV)

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