Smart ForTwo mhd

Eco tweaks make baby bigger in the city

On paper, few cars are better suited to stop-start technology than the Smart ForTwo. The tiny car was designed to spend its life on congested city streets, where jams are a fact of life.

Unlike the Honda Insight, and despite its hi-tech micro hybrid drive (mhd) billing, the Smart isn’t fitted with a petrol-electric drivetrain. Instead, engineers have incorporated a simple stop-start function into the 1.0-litre engine, plus regenerative braking. In practice, the system couldn’t be easier to use.

Roll to a stop, keep your foot on the brake and the powerplant cuts out. Release the pedal and it instantly fires back into life. Squeeze the throttle and move away.

As with the rest of our cars, the ForTwo’s set-up kicked in only when the engine was warm, which took just a few minutes. As a result, the Smart was able to start saving fuel less than a mile into our test route. Overall, the mhd performed faultlessly, and using stop-start was quickly second nature.

It also helped the ForTwo return 36.7mpg in town. Clearly, mhd adds to the Smart’s appeal, but the city car’s flaws – most notably its semi-auto box – remain.

Details

WHY: Tiny dimensions, a small engine and Smart’s new micro hybrid drive suggest ForTwo should be unbeatable in town.

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