It’s getting on for two decades since the first Smart came out, and there’s still nothing else like it. Read into that what you will.
Here we have the latest ForTwo Cabrio. Beneath a fabric roof, it has a funky cabin with a 7” media screen and no end of cool design touches. These aren’t carried off with any great feeling of perceived quality, but it does make for an interesting environment in which to travel.
The travelling you do will be entertaining enough around town, where the 70bhp engine has just enough get-up-and-go and the light steering gives it point-and-squirt manoeuvrability – as well as a world-beating turning circle and, of course, access to parking spaces no-one else even realised were there. Don’t expect anything this short to ride tidily, though.
It’s not very refined around town, either, with a deal of vibration and a dopey, jerky auto box that only starts getting the idea once you’re up and running. Which is ironic, because the more up and running you get, the less at home the Smart is. With a breathless engine and jittery handling, the open road is its nemesis, and on the motorway simply keeping up with everyone else is a chore.
At least it’s quiet enough, so long as you keep the roof up, though even with it fully open there’s little in the way of buffeting. If you want to feel the wind in your hair, however, you’d better not be carrying much luggage – with the top down, a 340-litre cargo capacity is reduced to just 260.
Not that you buy a car like this for its practicality. You buy it for its skills around town, and for making yourself and others smile. If it does that, then fair enough, but it made us wince and scowl every bit as much.
Still, the two-seat cabin is admirably spacious, and despite its flaws it’s decent at what it was made for – which is making the most of every opportunity around town, whether to park or to duck and dive through heavy traffic.
For what you might see as a bit of a one-trick pony, at up to £18,845 the ForTwo Cabrio is rather pricey to buy. It ought to be cheap to run, though, with an official figure of up to 67.3mpg and no models putting out more than 99g/km – and, more to the point, Smart’s ever-fashionable status means this is a car that holds its money quite well.