Used buyer's guide: Smart ForTwo

20 Sep, 2012 4:00pm Richard Dredge

The distinctive Smart ForTwo city car is a great used buy for urban dwellers


The Smart’s tiny proportions are both a blessing and a curse. Although it’s the perfect size for zipping around town, a firm ride and short wheelbase mean it’s uncomfortable on potholed or speed bump-infested roads. The boot is also cramped, but when it comes to carrying people safely, you’ll be amazed at what the Smart can do. It’s ideal for young drivers, who can take no more than one friend along for the ride, and it’s a great car for people who like to get noticed, too.

Few cars of the past decade have divided opinion as much as the Smart ForTwo. Brilliant but flawed, this is a city car with a difference thanks to its cute looks, great engineering and astonishing body strength. Yet it’s also quite expensive for a car that’s only really suited to urban dwellers.

Nippy, cheap to run and quite practical despite its compact dimensions, the Smart makes a lot more sense than you’d think. However, you should only buy one after careful consideration.


The Smart ForTwo MkII, known internally as the 451, arrived in autumn 2007 in Coupe and Cabrio forms. There was initially a choice of 61bhp, 71bhp or 84bhp three-cylinder 999cc petrol power, in Pure, Pulse and Passion trims, plus the sporty 97bhp Brabus.

The ForTwo CDI, with a 799cc diesel engine, reached the UK in June 2009. A September 2010 facelift brought reduced CO2 emissions for most of the petrol engines, plus more equipment and new colours inside and out. A further refresh earlier this year added LED daytime running lights, a reprofiled nose and improved cabin materials.


The alternatives have at least twice as many seats and often five doors, too. Its closest competitor is the Toyota iQ, which is extremely compact and has a high-quality finish. The iQ is best viewed as a two-seater, even though there are actually four seats.

The Fiat Panda provides more space and practicality than the Smart, with decent reliability, too, while the MkII Ford Ka isn’t as much fun as its predecessor, but it’s very usable. If you want more style, a Fiat 500 is worth a look. Finally, the Kia Picanto is a tempting choice, thanks to its reliability and practicality.