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First Drive Review: 2016 Smart fortwo and Smart forfour DCT by Henny Hemmes +VIDEO

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2016 SMART fortwo

By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor

         • SEE ALSO: SMART Buyers Guide

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2016 SMART fortwo

COLOGNE - July 13, 2015: The Smart fortwo and forfour models made their world debut in Paris last year and are already successful in Europe. Following the US and Chinese premieres in Europe, both countries will have to wait somewhat longer. But by then, it will also be equipped with the twinmatic DCT Double Clutch Transmission.

The fortwo and the forfour can be equipped with three variants of Renault’s 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine: 45 kW/61 hp, 52 kW/71 hp and 66 kW/90 hp, combined with Renault’s 5-speed manual transmission. I drove both models last week in and around Stuttgart. (To read the earlier review CLICK HERE.) .

The manual gearbox is replacing the quite jerky semi-automatic unit that was used in the fortwo from its market introduction in 1998 and in the forfour which debuted in 2006. The Daimler developed DCT transmission is a new option which can be combined with the 52 kW and 66 kW engines. However, DCT will feature as standard in the U.S.

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The automatic transmission can be shifted by hand by moving the lever up and down, for down-respectively up-shifting. Not very logical, but drivers will get used to it real fast.

The optional Sport package offers shift paddles, alloy pedals with rubber studs, a 10 mm lowered suspension and chrome exhaust tips. The package costs $600, which will probably be no obstacle for drivers who want the sporty feel of paddle shifting.

There are two other packages available: 'Lighting' including LED tail lights and integrated ‘light guide’ DRL ($400), and the Edition #1 Package ($1,200), that consists of both the Sports and Lighting packages, white body panels, orange tridion plus the white grille, fog lamps, rain- and light sensor, black/orange fabric interior, specific door mats and the ‘Edition 1’- logo.

Driving the fortwo with 6-speed automatic transmission is more engaged and more comfortable. The shift points are well adjusted to the engines – I drove both with DCT. I felt that the transmission downshifts not as smooth as you would expect, but you may forgive this imperfection when you realize that the option price in Europe is just 990 euros (around $1,000).

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Thanks to the 6.95 m short turning circle you can make a 180 degrees turn even faster, because you do not have to think about shifting into the right gear. The fortwo feels absolutely well at home in the city, but you may feel not restricted to heavy traffic only. Also on the Autobahn, it is no problem to quickly paddle shift into the right gear, or leave it up to the twinmatic itself to go with the flow.

Another advantage of the DCT transmission is the improved fuel efficiency. With the 91 hp engine the average fuel consumption is 56 mpg with 98 g/km CO2.

During the first media drive event with the DCT transmission, Smart showed us a prototype of the upcoming fortwo Convertible, which will reach the European and North American markets in February and April respectively. The top can be opened and closed in 12 seconds while driving at any speed, including at the top speed of 96 mph/155 km/h. As the folded top cannot be stowed inside, I wanted to see if it would block your view from the rear view mirror. So I jumped in the driver seat of the prototype and could see it will not be in the way.

From mid-2014, Smart offered the fortwo also with an electric motor. The new model will again be offered as EV, but Smart could not confirm a date. It will be again available in North America; some 25 percent of the outgoing fortwo was equipped with the electric driveline.