What Changed for 2009:
- Two new paint colors
- New net replaces the hard storage shelves in the rear
- New warning lamp indicates a loose gas cap
The first-generation Smart Fortwo microcar went on sale in Europe in 1998, and the second-generation model was introduced in March 2007. The concept was originally developed by Swiss watchmaker Swatch. When Swatch teamed up with Daimler-Benz, the name Smart emerged as an acronym for \"Swatch-Mercedes Art.\" In addition to the original Smart Fortwo, other Smart models have included the 4-door \"Forfour\" and the 2-passenger roadster. The Fortwo is the only Smart model currently produced.
It had been rumored that Smart cars would come to the U.S. for years. The Fortwo finally arrived in January of 2008 as a 2008 model. The car is produced by the Mercedes Car Group and is sold through stand-alone Smart dealers and Mercedes-Benz dealers in the U.S. It is imported by Smart USA Distributor LLC, which is a division of Roger Penske's Penske Automotive Group.
The Fortwo is a 2-door, 2-seat car with rear-wheel drive. Two body styles are offered: coupe and convertible. Power comes from a 3-cylinder engine, matched to a 5-speed automated manual transmission. As the Fortwo was all-new for 2008, only minor changes were made for the 2009 model year.
The 2009 Smart Fortwo is available in three trim levels. Standard features on the entry-level Pure coupe include power locks, remote keyless entry, cloth upholstery, fold-flat passenger seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel, outside temperature indicator, rear window defroster and wiper, and P155/60R15 front and P175/55R15 rear all-season tires on steel wheels. The Pure does not have a radio, but provisions are provided for radio installation and two radios are offered as options. Other options include air conditioning with automatic temperature control and a pollen filter, alarm, panorama roof, power steering and heated seats.
The Passion coupe adds a panorama roof, air conditioning with automatic climate control, steering-wheel shift paddles, power windows, heated power exterior mirrors, AM/FM radio with CD player, and alloy wheels. In addition to the Pure's options, the Passion offers fog lamps, tachometer and analog clock, 5-speaker premium sound system with 6-disc CD changer, and a Comfort package with power steering, heated leather seats, automatic headlights and a rain and light sensor.
The convertible Passion Cabrio has a power soft top with heated glass rear window and a 5-speaker premium sound system with in-dash 6-disc CD changer. The Passion Cabrio is offered with the Comfort package, as well as the various separate options available on the other models.
Power for all 2009 Smart models comes from a rear-mounted, 1.0-liter 3-cylinder engine that makes 70 hp at 5800 rpm and 68 lb.-ft. of torque at 4500 rpm. The 5-speed automated manual transmission can be set to shift like an automatic or controlled manually via the gearshift or steering-wheel paddles. According to Smart, the Fortwo takes 12.8 seconds to sprint from 0 to 60 mph and is capable of a top speed of 90 mph. The EPA fuel-economy ratings are 33 mpg city/40 mpg highway. The Fortwo has a strut-type independent front suspension and a DeDion tube rear axle. The brakes are front discs and rear drums.
Standard safety features on the 2009 Smart Fortwo include dual-stage front air bags with passenger-side occupant sensor, head- and torso-protecting side air bags, tire-pressure monitor, traction control, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist, and electronic stability control with Hill Start Assist.
The Fortwo utilizes plastic body panels around a \"tridion\" safety cell that is made of steel, half of which is of the high-strength variety. According to Smart, this structure has longitudinal and transverse beams that displace impact forces over a large area of the car to protect occupants in a crash. The tridion safety cell is available in black or silver, as elements of it, including the front pillars, are visible from the outside. Smart says that slip tubes up front and a steel rear structure will prevent front and rear crashes of up to 10 mph from affecting the tridion cell. Smart also says the wheels and tires, as well as side braces, will help dissipate energy in a side crash.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the 2009 Smart Fortwo receives 4 stars in frontal crash testing for the driver and 3 stars for the passenger. The Fortwo receives 3 stars for rollover resistance, and earns a 5-star rating in side-impact tests for the driver (a passenger rating was not issued). However, in a special note, the NHTSA has applied a special \"safety concern\" warning to the driver's side-impact rating. While the agency didn't specify the particular safety concern, examples may include (but are not limited to) structural failure or non-intended performance of vehicle components, and can include such things as fuel leakages and door openings, according to the NHTSA. The 2008-2009 Smart Fortwo has also been crash tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and it received \"Good\" ratings in both frontal offset and side-impact testing.
To help drivers maintain a stationary position during difficult hill starts (when a vehicle is likely to roll backwards), the 2009 Smart Fortwo is equipped with Hill Start Assist. The electronic system is designed to automatically maintain brake pressure for about a second after the driver's foot is lifted off the brake pedal. This provides enough time for the driver's foot to move to the throttle and prevents the car from rolling backward on hilly streets. The Fortwo also has cornering brake control, which applies less braking force to the inner wheels when braking in a turn to help prevent a skid or spin, the manufacturer says.