NEW FOR 2009:

– Standard driver and passenger door nets, cover for 12-volt socket, indicator warning lamp for open fuel cap
– Passion Line interior fabrics match exterior colours
– Exterior colours: Grey Metallic and Rally Red added; Red Metallic and Light Yellow discontinued

Having been completely redesigned for 2008, the Smart continues into 2009 unchanged, save for some new standard interior features.

Available in a coupe or cabriolet (convertible), the Smart uses a 1.0-litre three-cylinder gasoline engine (the previous generation’s diesel has been discontinued in North America), mated to an automated five-speed transmission that can be manually "shifted" or left in Drive.

The coupe comes in Pure or Passion trim line, while the cabriolet is Passion only.

Features on the Pure coupe include 15-inch steel wheels, black body shell, head and thorax side airbag, locking glove compartment, power windows, tire pressure monitoring system, power locks with keyless entry, CD stereo, and leather-wrapped wheel. Available options include panoramic glass roof with sunscreen, air conditioning, heated seats, power mirrors, fog lamps, alarm system, electric power steering, clock and tachometer.

The Passion coupe adds 15-inch alloy wheels, silver body shell, air conditioning with automatic temperature control, six-CD/MP3 stereo, panorama glass roof with sunscreen, wheel-mounted gearshift paddles, cargo cover, electric power steering, heated electric mirrors, and heated seats. Available options include alarm system, fog lamps, leather seats, clock and tachometer.

The Passion Cabriolet is equipped similarly to the coupe, but includes an automatic fabric roof with glass rear window and detachable roof bars.

A quirky little runabout, the Smart is much roomier than its tiny envelope suggests; thanks to its tall roof and sloping toe-board, even those over six feet tall will be comfortable in it. The cargo area can hold enough to get a couple through weekly groceries, and if necessary, the passenger seat can be folded for more storage space. When fitted with winter tires, it handles like a compact car, and does better in inclement weather than expected. Its electronic stability can’t be disabled, and parents should be aware that its front airbag cannot be switched off either, so it’s not for small children in infant seats.

The cabriolet features a soft top that peels back electrically at the touch of a button; the side rails can also be removed and stored in a special area inside the trunk for full open-air. While not as easy as a conventional top, it only takes a couple of minutes to open completely and isn’t hard to do.

The Smart is marketed under its own brand name by Mercedes-Benz, but is sold through that company’s dealerships.

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