2009 Passion Cabriolet Smart Car
By: ALAN GELL
I first saw the Smart Car at the Frankfurt Auto Show two years ago. It definitely captured my attention and I knew it would not take long for the Smart Car to become popular in the United States. Like the Mini-Cooper, it began as a unique little run-about, but is quickly becoming a part of everyday driving.
In April, Judy and I spent a weekend at the Texas Motor Speedway, test driving a variety of sedans and sports cars, some of them on the track. Most of the test driving however, was on the six mile circle around the huge facility. There was a variety of straight runs, crooked turns, left and right curves, and much more to challenge the Texas journalists. I took the Smart Car out several times. The evaluation vehicle was actually called a Passion Cabriolet. It was a 2009 model that had a list price of $16,590. With a few options and delivery charges, the bottom sticker price was $18,205.
A common saying is that good things come in small packages. The base model of the Smart Car is called a Smart ForTwo. It comes with a 5-speed manual transmission, a 3 cylinder gasoline engine, and not much else. The engine is a 1.0 liter that revs up to 70 horsepower. This is not designed to challenge the Ford Mustang, Chevy Camaro, Dodge Challenger, or any other get-up-and-go vehicles. The console is made to install a radio. Air conditioning and power windows are optional. The next model up the line is the Smart ForTwo Passion Coupe. This is much more sporty and equipped, but obviously costs a little bit more. It still has the 3 cylinder gasoline engine, but also includes a panorama roof, alloy wheels, AC with climate control, a 3 spoke leather covered steering wheel, shift paddles on the steering wheel, power windows, electric and heated side mirrors, and an AM/FM radio with CD player.
The top of the line in the Smart Car is the Passion Cabriolet. It has all those sporty features in the Passion Coupe, plus quite a bit more. The radio and sound system is upgraded. The top is a soft top with a heated rear glass window. The top is fully automatic and can be adjusted to almost any position – even while driving at full speed. If you want to turn your Smart ForTwo Passion Cabriolet into a convertible, then simply remove the side roof rails and put them in the tailgate. Viola! Now the Smart Car is even more fun to drive.
It looks little and it is little, but there’s no compromise on safety. The Smart ForTwo features full-size driver and passenger airbags, side airbags, electronic stability, anti-lock brakes, hydraulic dual-circuit braking system, integral safety seats, and a top tether for child restraint system. The transmission is available in automatic. The seating is quite roomy for two people. This little car is designed for commuting or empty nesters. There’s not enough room for car seats and grandchildren. There is adequate cargo room for short trips for a weekend or to the shopping mall. The Smart ForTwo is not a race car, but car attain 70 to 75 mph without too much difficulty.
Bottom line – this car looks cute. There’s no other way to describe it. Safety concerns are certainly there, due to the small size of the vehicle, as are present in any small car. Biggest plus factor is the mileage. Smart ForTwo has an EPA rating of 33 mpg in the city and 41 mpg on the highway. For the small difference in price, I would suggest the Passion Cabriolet with all the extras rather than the budget, stripped-down model. If you drive a cute car, you want it to also be an enjoyable ride. You might have to search for a dealership, but check out the Smart ForTwo yourself. You might go for just a “look” and find yourself driving home with a new car.