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Smart Fortwo

Car Reviews  ·  May 23, 2022

Smart Fortwo

Did you know that the idea behind Smart Fortwo came from a watch/jewellery guy and not a car engineer? Yes, this tiny car was originally a project of Nicolas Hayek, best known as the founder and owner of the Swiss watch company Swatch. 

So far, there are already three generations of this tiny city, with the first and second reaching Australia in 2004 and 2016, respectively, but not the third.

The First Generation of Smart Fortwo (2004-2008)

The first generation of Smart Fortwo car was originally introduced in 1998, but the Australian version wasn’t released here until 2004, and only for only three years.

It’s interest to note that the development of this small city car began in the early 90s. It was the brainchild of Nicolas Hayek, the founder and former owner of Swatch. 

The general idea was to offer a small city car that focuses on manoeuvrability, and it should come with a hybrid or electric powertrain at some point. They did realise their goal of a Smart Fortwo electric version but only in 2018 with the third generation.

Hayek initially approached Volkswagen for this project, but the management wasn't convinced with the idea, so the joint venture with Mercedes-Benz came to be. After developing the car for five years, they eventually introduced the first generation in 1998, while the Smart Fortwo Australia debuted five years later.


This tiny package surprisingly came full of exciting design solutions. Of course, the first thing you’ll notice is its mono-box design and small dimensions, but more unique technical solutions were under the skin. 

Besides an interesting seating position, the original Smart Fortwo features an interesting layout—the engine is mounted on the rear axle behind the seats, with the radiator/cooling system at the front.

Like in other parts of the world, the model for the Australian market was also offered in two body styles—coupe and convertible. 

The suspension setup is relatively simple. What’s particularly interesting is the return of the good-old De Dion design rear axle. At the front, the axle featured a typical McPherson strut with coil springs and an anti-roll bar. All four wheels featured disc brakes.


Of course, tiny dimensions are the first thing that comes to mind about the Smart Fortwo. The first-generation model features a 1,812mm wheelbase and 2,500mm overall length. It is 1,515mm wide and 1,549mm high.

With this small size, it’s no wonder that it needs a turning circle of only 8.7m. The kerb weight goes between 750 and 800 kilograms, depending on the configuration.

Smart Fortwo Dimensions


The initial model for the Australian market, the 2005 Smart Fortwo, came with a familiar 0.7-litre turbo three-cylinder engine from Mercedes, upgraded in 2002. So, all Australian versions feature a max output of 45kW and 95 Nm of torque. 

That is enough to ensure a 0-100km/h sprint in 15 seconds and a top speed is 135 km/h. On the other hand, the significant benefit from such a small displacement and power comes in the form of excellent fuel economy, which goes under 5L/100km in a combined ride.

Another exciting aspect of Smart Fortwo is the Getraq-designed transmission, which was considered novel at the time. The clutch is computer-controlled via electrohydraulic, which means that there is no clutch pedal. This automated manual transmission featured a floor-mounted shifter or optional steering-wheel-mounted paddles. The first generation featured a 6-speed unit.

Smart Fortwo Engine Specs

The Second Generation of Smart Fortwo (2008-2016)

The second generation brought evolutionary changes. We saw a new exterior design, though the basics remained the same. 


Also, it’s worth mentioning that the second generation is bigger, with a longer wheelbase. It measures 1867mm in wheelbase, while the overall length went up to 2695 millimetres. The car is 1559mm wide and 1542mm high.

Smart Fortwo Dimensions


The biggest change happened under the hood. The Mercedes 0.7-litre engine was replaced with a bigger and more powerful three-cylinder unit from Mitsubishi, which eventually turned out to be more reliable.

Base models were equipped with a naturally aspirated version of this engine, with a max output of 52kw and 92Nm of torque. The 6-speed automated manual transmission was replaced with a 5-speed unit. The new model significantly improved in performance, with an 11-second 0-100km/h time and a 145km/hr top speed.

The new engine was also offered with a turbocharger, which upped the max output to 62kW and the torque to 120Nm. The top speed is the same but acceleration from 0 to 100km/h takes only 10 seconds.

Smart Fortwo 1.0 Specs

Smart Fortwo 1.0 Turbo Specs


Smart updated the second generation twice. The first one happened in 2011, and that one was mostly about interior changes. Finer materials were introduced, along with new round air vents, new instrument clusters and standard knee airbags. The company also offered an optional 6.5-inch infotainment screen and surround audio system.

The 2013 update, on the other hand, was more about exterior updates. We saw new front and rear fascias, along with the badge relocation and similar minor tweaks. 

How many miles will a Smart Fortwo last?

Both generations are quite durable and reliable. With proper maintenance, every model can make 250,000 kilometres without serious engine issues. Moreover, the second generation proved to be even more durable and reliable than the original, as it uses Mitsubishi's proven 3B2 engine. The naturally aspirated version is remarkably durable and dependable.

What problems do Smart cars have?

The Smart Fortwo’s relatively simple construction means fewer chances for potential problems. According to reports, there aren't many problems with this small city car. All engines are reliable, while the transmission is durable too. 

Even if some transmission issue occurs, keep in mind that we are talking about an automated manual transmission, with significantly lower repair costs than traditional automatic gearboxes.

The brakes are probably the biggest issue. Their performance is good, but they happen to wear out quickly. While the longevity of brake pads goes around 60,000-80,000 kilometres, Smart Fortwo brakes usually require replacement every 40,000 kilometres.

Do you want to buy a used Smart Fortwo?

Unfortunately, used Smart Fortwo’s are your only option. You can search our Marketplace for that or send us a request so we can connect you to reputable sellers. You can do the same if you need replacement parts!

Or better yet, check out another Smart vehicle but it’s for four!

Want to sell your ForTwo? That’s easy—register on our website, and advertise it to a wider market! Check us out for more articles—we update our blog daily.

By Nebojsa Grmusa

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