2011 smart fortwo passion cabriolet Road Test Review

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Driving the smart fortwo passion cabriolet through a particularly "urban" part of town, a brother crossing the street shouts; "I LIKE that man, that's a sharp little ride there!" Hustling down the freeway, easily keeping up with traffic, the smart fortwo passion cabriolet even gets a nod of approval from the pilot of a raised Ford Super Duty Club Cab. Ironically, the Ford was so big; the fortwo could easily have fit in the huge pickup's truck bed.

These were but two of the many people smitten by the diminutive matte green convertible's façade. Even though the smart car has been on the market many years now, people are still very curious about it. Additionally, everyone invited to take a seat behind the wheel of the tiny conveyance was universally impressed by the roominess of its interior.

So spacious is the smart's cockpit, one is routinely startled upon exiting the car or when catching a glimpse of its reflection, just how small the 2.7-meter long car really is. (A MINI is 3.6 metres long BTW.) A clue to the interior's spaciousness is actually available from outside the car. Opening quite widely to reveal the new for 2011 interior, the doors are the convertible's largest body panel-save the roof.

Powered by a 70-horsepower, one-litre, three-cylinder rear mounted engine, making its maximum power at 5,800 rpm, the smart is a rear-wheel drive car, employing a five-speed automated manual transmission. Not a particularly smooth shifting unit, in many cases the smart car will remind you of someone just learning to operate a manual transmission because of the huge lags between gearshifts. The engine's rather meager torque output of 68 ft-lbs at 4,500 rpm is just sufficient to set the little convertible into motion. It takes just under 13 seconds to push the fortwo cabriolet to 100km/h. Top speed is 145 km per hour. Fuel economy is rated at an EPA equivalent of 7.1 L/100km city and 5.7 highway; the Canadian rating is 5.9 / 4.8 respectively. Once up to speed, the car holds it pretty well, though an occasional manual downshift is required when ascending hills.

Handling, as you might expect, is on the sprightly side-although the car does understeer quite a bit. On rough roads, because the wheelbase is so short, the front end is still recovering from an irregularity when the rear end encounters it. Still, though, it's comfortable on smooth surfaces.

At highway speeds, you'll experience quite a bit of wind noise over the canvas roof. A few years ago we drove a coupe, which was much quieter. Driving with the roof open is comfortable and the top can be opened without stopping the car. Buffeting is at a minimum with the rear folding part of the two-piece roof left in place. Speaking of the highway, a question that comes up rather frequently regards the anxiety level within the car when surrounded by large trucks. In our experience large trucks were much less of a problem than other cars and light trucks. For some reason, their drivers feel they should be going faster than the smart car, no matter how fast it goes. On several occasions, both on surface streets and freeways, other drivers would crowd it, then look down at their speedometers and realize the little car is driving at-or slightly above-the speed limit.

New features for 2011 include the matte green paint job our tester wore and an all-new interior. Fabric covers the redesigned dash, the instrument cluster has been reworked, and secondary switches for door locks, fog lights, etc. have been grouped in the middle of the panel.

Still the only car of its type on the North American marketplace, the 2011 smart fortwo passion cabriolet's pricing starts at $20,500.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Convertible, smart, 2011, fortwo cabriolet, $20,000 - $29,999, Subcompact,

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