Smart Fortwo
(2007 - 2014)

  • Compact size is perfect for built up areas.
  • Unique design and character.
  • Actually quite safe despite its size.
  • Hilariously fun to drive.
  • Poorly maintained examples can suffer from mechanical issues.
  • Ride quality has degraded on high kilometre examples.
  • Feels out of it’s depth out of the city.
  • Larger vehicles feel instantly
    intimidating.
Overview

The Smart Fortwo has been available across three generations but in this cheat sheet, we’ll be focussing on the 2007 to 2014 second generation which here in Australia has been available as a 3-door coupe or 3-door convertible, both being rear engined and rear wheel drive.

The Series 2 of the 2nd generation Fortwo landed in Australia in mid 2011, featured some minor cosmetic and equipment updates but most notably, modifications to the ECU and exhaust system to lower fuel consumption.

In terms of variants, while other markets received a range of trim levels, Australia had to make do with predominantly the single spec Pulse variant while a smattering of option packed special editions like the Domino, Night Orange and Final editions excited the range from time to time.

Fun fact, the brand Smart was and is actually a collaboration between the Swiss Watchmaking giant Swatch and automotive powerhouse Mercedes.

As represented by the name Smart, S for Swatch, M for Mercedes and Art because, well, its appearance.

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What goes wrong

In terms of the exterior, Coupe models are subject to roof problems like the paint discolouring or fading and models with a polycarbonate sunroof, the polycarbonate can fade and crack.

Convertible ForTwo’s have been prone to their roofs shrinking and this leads to the roof itself lifting at the front which can lead to water leaking into the cabin.

Models from 2008 – 2009 can be prone to overcharging their headlights which shortens the lifespan of the light itself.

The body work is mainly all plastic and therefore pretty resilient and relatively easy to repair however, as the ForTwo does spend the majority of their lives in crowded areas, they can be susceptible to some abuse so be sure to check for accident damage and dodgy repair work.

Inside, Faulty Temperature Control Modules can tamper with the Air Conditioning’s cooling and the blower for the Heater is also known to fail.

There are also many of reports of various electronic gremlins surfacing so if buying one, make sure to check and test every button, does everything work as it should?

Mechanically both the turbo and naturally aspirated petrol engines, which are made by Mitsubishi, are fairly reliable and low maintenance however oil changes are made interesting by the absence of a traditional drain plug. A vacuum oil extraction device is required which while not being complicated, can make changing the oil difficult for those of you playing with these at home.

It’s the same story with the Mercedes diesel engine. These are generally reliable but can have complications with clogged up inlet systems a EGR valves. Although that is the case for almost all modern diesels to be fair.
There are plenty of examples of petrol and diesel engined ForTwo’s that are still going strong after relatively high km’s but those examples have been well serviced. Examples that have had timing chain complications or even worse, catastrophic engine failures are generally always a result of lack of servicing. Which is hard to understand as they are quite possibly one of the cheapest cars around in terms of servicing and maintenance.

Transmission issues are by far the weakest link and most common complaint. Even when they are working correctly, many owners complain about them. When they’re not working properly, they have reverse gear selection issues, harsh or slow shifting complications or just no drive at all. Sometimes resolving this can require a simple lube, adjustment and a relearn procedure or a clutch actuator or the actual clutch itself. And in some cases, in the space of a few months, all of the above.
Although the ForTwo is considered to be fairly reliable overall, the list of small annoying mechanical issues they can suffer from can become very long.

Model range, pricing & features

pulse/pulse mhd

  • Price when new: $17,710 - $25,290
  • Price used: $8,500 - $21,000

The pulse is the single model in the range with the release of the fortwo in 2008, available either with a 1.0 litre 3-cylinder naturally aspirated petrol engine or a 1.0 litre turbocharged 3-cylinder petrol engine.

MY09 models were differentiated into pulse and pulse mhd, with mhd denoting vehicles fitted the naturally aspirated 3-cylinder engine.

An update in 2011 (MY11) brought a black grille, fog light surrounds and mirror covers; as well as a new fabric instrument panel, three spoke wheel design, hill holder, AUX & USB input.

An update in 2014 (MY14) added LED daytime running lights, heated electric mirrors and cruise control.

Last models of the fortwo before its discontinuation in Australia were labelled “Final Edition” although no performance enhancements or special equipment was added.

Standard features:

15-inch alloy wheels
Body coloured bumper bars
Body coloured side mirrors
Electrically operated soft-top (cabrio only)
Dual exhaust
4-star ANCAP safety rating (tested 2008)
4 airbags: driver and front passenger and front side impact airbags
3-point (lap sash) seatbelt for all occupants
Seat pretensioners and load limiters for for driver and front passenger
Headrests for driver and front passenger
Anti-lock braking system (ABS)
Brake assist
Electronic stability program (ESP)
Electronic brake force distribution (EBD)
Electric side mirrors
Electric windows – front only
Projector headlights
Front fog lights
Intermittent wipers
Rain sensing (auto) wipers
Rear wiper (coupe only)
Remote central locking
Remote boot release
Engine immobiliser
Gearshift paddles
Fuel gauge
Trip computer
Manual handbrake
Power steering
Leather steering wheel
Single-zone climate control
Leather upholstery
2-speaker sound system
CD player
12V power outlet
Vanity mirror for front passenger
Luggage/load divider

MY11 update:

New black grille, fog lights surrounds and mirror covers
New fabric covered instrument panel
New three-spoke steering wheel design
Hill holder
AUX input
USB input

MY14 update:

LED daytime running lights
Electric mirrors – heated
Cruise control

pulse Night Orange

  • Price when new: $22,790
  • Price used: $17,000 - $21,000

The pulse Night Orange special edition model arrived in Australia in 2011 sporting a black styling pack, black alloy wheels and an appropriately named “Night Orange” paint job (which was the only colour available).

Additional features included heated electric mirrors, black Nappa leather upholstery, heated front seats, interior trim with orange racing stripes and floor mats with orange stitching.

Additional features:

Black 15-alloy wheels
“Night Orange” paint finish
Front fog lights with titanium-coloured surrounds
Electric mirrors – heated
Black Nappa leather upholstery
Interior trim with orange racing stripes
Heated front seats
Floor mats with orange stitching

Domino Edition mhd

  • Price when new: $20,990
  • Price used: $15,000 - $18,000

The Domino Edition was a special edition released in 2012 and added BRABUS Monoblock VII 15-inch light alloy wheels, a black styling pack: exterior mirror caps and grille, “Crystal White” paint finish, front headlights with black surrounds, touchscreen infotainment system and black fabric interior trim.

Additional features:

BRABUS Monoblock VII 15-inch light alloy wheels
Black styling pack: exterior mirror caps and grille
“Crystal White” paint finish
Front headlights with black surrounds
Touchscreen infotainment system
Black fabric interior trim

Should you buy it?

If you are genuinely considering buying a Smart Fortwo, congratulations, it takes a very confident and secure human to embrace such a unique and polarising car into your life.

However, unless you absolutely need such a short vehicle, or you’re just a dedicated fan that loves what the Smart ForTwo represents, there are other cars you should also consider like any of the plethora of tiny Japanese Kei cars landing on international shores or more specifically, the Suzuki Alto and Daihatsu Charade.

While the Alto and Charade cannot match the Fortwo in terms of style and simply the cool factor, and they are a little larger in size, they are just solid little nuggets that arguably offer more car for the money.

However in saying that, there really is nothing else like the Smart Fortwo but the difference between these being tiny and fun or big and headache can be a very close call, so sure buy one but please be extremely careful.

Warranty & servicing

Warranty:

3 year/unlimited kms

Servicing:

12 months/15,000kms – 1.0L 3-cylinder turbocharged petrol
12 months/20,000kms – 1.0L 3-cylinder petrol

Tech specs

Body Style:

3-door coupe
3-door convertible

Engines:

1.0L 3-cylinder petrol (pulse, pulse mhd, pulse Night Orange, Domino Edition mhd, mhd Final Edition)
1.0L 3-cylinder turbocharged petrol (pulse)

Power:

52kW – 1.0L 3-cylinder petrol (pulse, pulse mhd, pulse Night Orange, Domino Edition mhd, mhd Final Edition)
62kW – 1.0L 3-cylinder turbocharged petrol (pulse)

Torque:

92Nm – 1.0L 3-cylinder petrol (pulse, pulse mhd, pulse Night Orange, Domino Edition mhd, mhd Final Edition)
120Nm – 1.0L 3-cylinder turbocharged petrol (pulse)

Transmission & drivetrains:

5-speed semi-automatic, rear-wheel drive (RWD)

Fuel consumption:

4.4 – 4.9L/100km

Length:

2695mm

Width:

1559mm

Height:

1542mm

Kerb Weight:

750 – 780kg

Disclaimer

Information correct as of October 14, 2022.

The advice provided on this website is general advice only. It has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on this advice, you should consider the appropriateness of the advice, having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs.

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