There are default expressions to adopt when viewing certain cars. A supercar, for example, should be greeted with slack-jawed wonderment. On sighting a heavily modified supermini complete with booming stereo and anti-social exhaust, a despairingly slow shake of the head always helps suggest its owner should know better. A vacant thousand yard stare fits for almost any MPV and a grimace of disapproval, tinged with underlying jealousy, usually works with gas-guzzling luxury 4x4s. The Smart Fortwo is another car that tends to provoke a reaction. We'll call it the Smart smirk and if you fancy experiencing this lighter side of motoring, a used version could be just the ticket.
People smirked at the Smart virtually from day one. It was primarily because of its diminutive size but the unusual colour schemes that ranged from the day-glow to floral and leopard skin prints also helped raise a chuckle. Smart, however, took itself a little more seriously. You see, this has always been a company with convictions - of the non-criminal variety, that is. From the outset, the firm believed in its cleverly packaged two-seater citycar design as a revolutionary concept for the future of urban motoring. And to think we thought it was a bit of fun.
Smart argued that for the majority of the time, people in cities didn't need anything larger than its city car and that urban motorists were inefficiently choosing vehicles for the rare occasions when extra space was necessary. It had a point but the public being the public, they proved rather more resistant to change than Smart might have liked. Although successful, the first Smart city car wasn't the huge hit that had been hoped for. The second generation model featured here was a second bite at the cherry.
The original car was sold from 2003 to 2007 in various guises but when the second generation version arrived, it adopted a more grown-up approach. It was a larger car, with a larger engine and a higher quality interior that still had only two seats but offered more spacious accommodation. The base engine was a 1,000cc petrol unit that was offered in 61, 71 and 84bhp form, the latter of which benefited from the inclusion of a turbocharger. A Brabus model arrived soon afterwards with power upped to 98bhp.
In some European markets, the ForTwo was sold with a tiny 800cc diesel engine from the outset but that didn't come to the UK until 2009. It was joined by the mhd (Micro Hybrid Drive) models which added stop and start technology to the mix. Around the same period, Smart began offering the ForTwo ED electric vehicle on lease to large companies and local authorities.