2013 smart fortwo coupe
Starting at: $14,890
Power: 70 hp, 68 lb-ft.
Engines: 1.0-liter inline-three
Fuel Consumption: 34 city/38 highway

Maybe it was the pack of older women peering into the passenger’s side window asking where the cute girlfriend was to match the cute car. Or maybe it was the grown men that reacted with, “wooooooooow, what is that!?” and, “can I take a picture of your car?” Or maybe it was the toddler who stopped in the middle of crossing the street to point out the “wittle car” to his mom.  Or maybe it was the plethora of Facebook “Likes” and “Jealous” comments on the picture that I posted. I’m not really sure.

For any and all of those reasons, during my two-week experience with the 2013 smart fortwo coupe, I felt like people saw me in some stylish sports car, not a miniature ride that is literally the length of my wingspan.

In a city that’s used to extravagance, I didn’t really expect to get much attention in the smart. Yet, at every stop sign, everywhere I parked, and even while I was driving, I watched people do double takes, smiling and tapping their friends or family members to show them a 70 horsepower three-cylinder car.

There are plenty of car manufacturers that claim that driving their vehicles are an experience, but with the smart, this idea rings true. If you go into driving a fortwo trying to press it hard as you would a Volkswagen Golf or a Honda Civic Si, then you’re doing it wrong. Plain and simple. It’s not a hot hatch ready to burn rubber off its tiny wheels. It’s not an all-around family sedan. Its not even a hybrid or electric vehicle (though, it comes as an EV now). Do yourself a favor: Stop expecting the same type of ride as those cars.

The key with the smart is all about accepting what it does and getting comfortable. The cabin is actually pretty spacious. My 6’2” frame slid right in, with a couple inches to spare. Within the open-feeling cabin, the gigantic panoramic roof was crucial. Had that been a normal headliner, rather than a window, I might have started to feel like Luke Skywalker and Han Solo in the Death Star garbage compactor.

 

I felt like people saw me in some stylish sports car, not a miniature ride that is literally the length of my wingspan.

Instead, the worrisome feeling of danger was tucked away in the small trunk (except when I was between two trucks on the Queensboro Bridge, natural fear in any size vehicle). Despite its miniature size, the smart fortwo rode amiably at higher speeds on the highway. I didn’t feel like I was sitting on a tree shaker when I hit 60-70 mph, as you might in older Saturns. Even the offset ring around the door is actually the tridon Benz-engineered tridion cell that’s modeled after a roll cage. On the inside, you’re surrounded by eight full-size airbags, so I wasn’t too worried about an accident either.

I was also way too occupied spreading the gospel of Meek Mill, Big Sean, and A$AP Rocky through the avenues of Manhattan and the streets of Red Hook, Brooklyn to think about potential mishaps. The sound system, controlled by a 6.5-inch nav/CD/DVD/ touchscreen, provides big sound from an 8-channel digital amplifier, matched tweeters, and a subwoofer. This wasn’t a feel-like-you’re-trapped-in-the-Roxbury experience, though. It was nice and balanced, with deep bass.

To round out the experience, we hit Ikea (in desperate needed a part for a bed frame) and Costco. Although you couldn’t fit an entire bed set or enough food for a 30-person party in the trunk, you'd were pretty surprised at how well the smart handled a six-foot steel beam and enough food for two hungry guys to survive a few weeks. The rear seats provide a perfect backboard for stacking items, and you can always use the front seat to fit more, if necessary.

Final verdict: As surprising as it might be, the smart was one of the most pleasing drives of the year. Not because we were using the paddle shifters to race anybody (well, maybe that attempt gave us a chuckle, too), but because it brightened everybody’s day. After squeezing into tiny parking spots, the car also found a tough spot in our automotive hearts.

Related: Closed Course Test Drive: The Fiat 500 Abarth is a Miniature Beast