For quite a while now, every time I’ve seen a Smart fourtwo dressed up in its blue and white Car2Go logos and paint, my first thought has been “loser.”

For me, Smart has long been the car brand for those who can’t afford and certainly can’t appreciate what a real car is and what it should do. Admittedly, I am a biased baby boomer who grew up at a time in California when muscle cars and pony cars were the only cars that were drool-worthy.

The fourtwo is right at home in city centres where bicycles are often more common than cars.

The fourtwo is right at home in city centres where bicycles are often more common than cars.

One of my very first rides was a green, four-door Chevy Nova, and it was a stealth beast. That Nova may have looked harmless, a grocery getter of the time, but under the hood was a small-block Chevy V-8.

That Nova could motor when I wanted it to, as every car should. When I added better wheels and fatter rubber, polished it up and stuffed an FM radio into the dashboard, I was set. I could get dates at a time when mom and dad’s station wagon was a date-killer.

So yes, my life experience has brought me to this: even a city runabout should have enough power to get out of its own way and deliver a dose of shock and awe to those around you in traffic. That Nova could do that.

The teeny, tiny (2.69 metres long) Smart fourtwo I just tested is, by contrast, a giggle car with a three-cylinder (89 horsepower) gas engine that has a starting price of $17,300. It does seat two comfortably, is surprisingly nimble in city traffic with its quick steering and 6.95-metre turning circle. If you stand still and pirouette with your arms extended, a fourtwo can just about turn around in that circle.

You'll find plenty of black -- and cheap-looking -- materials inside the typical fourtwo.

You’ll find plenty of black — and cheap-looking — materials inside the typical fourtwo.

Right view of dash for Web

There’s a boxy cargo area in back; it will hold a roll-aboard, a briefcase and perhaps a computer bag. Groceries? Six to eight full bags fit there and they’re easy to access through the clamshell rear doors – the glass pops up, the tailgate down.

The two-door fourtwo weighs just 965 kg, which is less than a $9,995 Chevrolet Spark, a four-door hatchback priced just slightly more than half that of a base fourtwo. You read that right. The base fourtwo costs $7,305 more than the base Spark, which by the way is now Canada’s cheapest production car.

Nissan has the $9,998 Micra; it’s also a four-door hatchback with a 1,057 curb weight. All of these quickly become more expensive with just a handful of options. Do not be misled by the sticker on any of them.

City dwellers can find plenty of places to park the tiny fourtwo.

City dwellers can find plenty of places to park the tiny fourtwo.

The fourtwo, though, is a fashion statement, while the Spark and Micra are little more than basic transportation at a bargain basement price. If I’m watching my pennies, the Micra would be my first choice.

Still, there is a certain charm about the fourtwo. In the city, it can be squeezed easily into even the tiniest spaces. In fact, you can park a fourtwo nose-first into the curb and not have the back end stick out into traffic. Caution: in some places this may not be legal.

The smart is quite entertaining, though it’s not a Chevy Nova of my teen years. City fuel economy – shockingly — is mediocre at 7.5 litres/100 km (the Micra gets 8.6 in the city). If you want a super-thrifty city car, get a Toyota Prius hybrid.

The fourtwo’s cabin is big enough for two full-sized adults. The materials are dull (mostly black) and the infotainment story is less than inspiring.

My tester did not have standard Bluetooth connectivity. Instead, jutting from the dash at about radio height was a plastic holder for a smartphone. Cheap. Crash test results show that this minicar is really quite safe.

Park your fourtwo almost anywhere in a crowded city.

Park your fourtwo almost anywhere in a crowded city.

After a week of conquering traffic and owning parking spaces everywhere in the crowded city, I did come away with a grudging respect for my little fourtwo. I’ve evolved.

I don’t see Smart as a car brand for losers any longer. It’s a car that makes a statement about drivers who live in stuffed cities – that they value oddball looks and easy parking and are willing to pay a premium for it.

THE LOOK: Homely. The fourtwo is a snub-nosed city car with a footprint about the size of an NFL lineman. One of the people closest to me in the world initially refused to be seen in the fourtwo with me.

THE DRIVE: You will be able to dash about crowded city streets and own the tiniest parking spaces. Smart has tuned the motor and gearbox to deliver terrific 0-60 km times, which is ideal for running when the light turns green. Forget about enjoying the highway ride; it’s noisy and bumpy.

THE NUTS AND BOLTS: Smart re-worked the 2016 model from stem to stern. Not only has the exterior been tidied up, but the entire underbody has been engineered to be more robust than any of the fourtwo’s competitors.

THE CABIN/STORAGE: Two adults can sit comfortably and the cargo area is adequate for city shoppers. For full vehicle and package features and specifications, visit

THE BRAND: “Smart wants to be more than a car,” says smart brand head Annette Winkler. “Many people are now looking for mobility solutions. Car2Go is an example of how the smart brand can provide those mobility solutions. If you buy a smart, you get Car2Go registration for free, globally. Car2go puts more smart cars on the street, so it helps to promote the brand.”

WHY BUY? Car2Go appears to be smart’s biggest single customer. Hmm. Both the Smart brand and Car2Go are owned by Daimler AG, the parent of Mercedes-Benz, too.

Engine: 0.9-litre inline three cylinder (89 horsepower/100-lb-ft torque).

Transmission: six-speed manual or ($1,400) dual-clutch automatic.

Drive: rear-wheel.

Fuel economy (l/100 km): 7.5 city/6.1 hwy using premium fuel.

Warranty: four years or 80,000 km.

Price: $17,300 base; $21,895 as tested.

Comparables: Nissan Micra, Chevrolet Spark.

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