weather icon Clear

Smart ForTwo Cabrio sports intelligent design in Las Vegas

Smart sales are lagging in the U.S., but that doesn’t mean its parent Mercedes-Benz has given up.

The refreshed Smart ForTwo cabrio debuted at the Frankfurt International Motor Show on Sept. 15.

Droptop Smarts hit Euro markets back in 2000. Changes since then have been sparse: Model year 2006 introduced the electric actuation for the top, and in 2010, additional top colors of blue and red were added.

As it happens, our current relatively low gas prices are blunting the appeal of tiny cars like the Smart. The zippy Scion iQ has dropped out of sight, and Smart year-to-date sales are off about 30 percent from the same period the year prior.

Still, there’s enough worldwide demand for the Smart to make a continued U.S. effort sensible. Gas prices won’t be this low forever, and when U.S. buyers eventually revisit the smaller end of the automotive scale, they’ll find a Smart ForTwo cabrio that has a different look and some worthwhile updates.

First off, there’s a more conventional front end. The slit-like lights of its predecessor have changed to something more large and familiar, like you might find on any mid-range hatchback. If some of the original edginess has to go, then at least what takes its place will be something more buyers can relate to.

It’s the same in back, with Mini Cooper-like lenses that are bigger and bolder than the gelatinous ones that preceded them.

Inside, the toy-like atmosphere of the previous Smart gives way to something softer and more conventional. Curves on the door panels and dash lend a bit more heft to the shaping, and there’s plenty of bright trim for your eye to find.

You can choose a more muted theme, without the contrasting accents, and the floating center screen is pretty neat. Nice that Smart resisted the temptation to lop off the external buttons and knob to go all-touchscreen as Honda has.

As before, the Smart offers a wide-open convertible experience, with side rails that pop off and stow neatly in the trunk’s door.

European markets will get the revised Smart ForTwo cabrio first; we in the U.S. will have to wait until early summer 2016. At that point, we’ll also get to sample its added 19 horsepower (up to 89) while still marveling at the ForTwo’s massively tight 22.8-foot turning circle.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Vintage motorcycle auction returns to Las Vegas

Over 1,700 collectible motorcycles cross the auction block Jan. 25-29 at the 2022 Mecum Las Vegas Vintage and Antique Motorcycle Auction at South Point.

Mecum motorcycle auction returns to Las Vegas

Mecum Auctions’ annual vintage and antique motorcycle auction begins Wednesday at the Las Vegas Convention Center. An estimated 1,750 motorcycles will go on the auction block.

Subaru debuts 2022 Outback Wilderness

Subaru of America has introduced the most rugged and capable Outback in the auto manufacturer’s history: the 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness.

Findlay hosts golf tournament to benefit FEAT

The first-ever Findlay Invitational Golf Tournament will be held Dec. 12 at Desert Pines Golf Club. The tournament will benefit Families for Effective Autism Treatment.

Subaru of Las Vegas, 8 News Now protect the environment

The 8 News Now Living Green Super Recycle Day, sponsored by Subaru of Las Vegas, was a blockbuster success Feb. 1 at UNLV’s Thomas Mack Center. The event is estimated to have drawn more than 5,000 people bringing a vast assortment of items to be recycled.

Boston native dedicated to Jaguar Land Rover

John Simmons was recently named parts and service director of Jaguar Land Rover Las Vegas, where he has worked for more than 12 years.

Automotive business on display at SEMA

Thousands of auto enthusiasts converge on the Las Vegas Convention Center every year for SEMA, including Las Vegan Steve Darnell of Welder Up.

AARP offers free classes on automotive technology

AARP has developed the free, 90-minute SMART DriverTEK class to help car buyers understand the language and process of the most popular safety features. AARP SMART DriverTEK instructors have partnered with local dealerships and community centers around the city to host these free classes.