Any attempt to place the Smart ForTwo within a competitive segment is usually based on its small footprint and sub-$20K starting price. Rivals might thus include the Honda Fit, or the Mini Cooper, or the Nissan Micra. All wrong, I’m afraid.

The ForTwo’s real market segment includes the Ferrari 488 and the Mazda MX-5 and the Cayman GT4 and the Ariel Atom. Granted, the Smart isn’t anywhere near as fast as any of those, even the Mazda, but there is a commonality. All these cars seat two people and come with compromises, be they ground-clearance, cost, or reduced luggage space. They aren’t cars you buy with your head, they’re cars you buy with your heart.

Logic, I’m afraid, has little to do with it. Examine the Smart ForTwo’s characteristics in the cold light of day, and one thing stands out immediately: the footprint may be small but the price tag is not. A stick-shift “Pure” basic edition starts from $17,300 plus freight and delivery, while an automatic-equipped and fully loaded “Prime” will crack the $22K mark and keep going. For that kind of money you could buy two Micras and wear them as shoes.

Official fuel economy figures aren’t yet out, but with its stubby building-block profile, don’t expect the Smart to be ultra-efficient on the highway. Power is up this year and so is weight, and while Mercedes-Benz claims economy shouldn’t be much worse, there are better offerings if you wish to save at the pump. Not to mention that fuel prices are low, and unlikely to spike in the near future (Canadian truck sales are through the roof).

It’s an unforgiving environment for this little pollywog to hatch into, but there is a certain lovability to the new Smart. It looks like one of those nearly spherical overfed pug dogs, all square-stance and smushed-in face. See two or three of them parked together, and your mind starts running to the shoe-rack at a toddler’s play centre.

A 15-inch steel wheel is standard on the base car, which also comes with LED running lights standard. Compared to the previous-generation Smart, there’s more standard features (cruise control, trip computer, Mercedes-Benz’s automatic crosswind countersteering system), a multi-function steering wheel, a 10-cm wider girth, and 10 L more cargo space. It’s also considerably more expensive than the old model which, admittedly, didn’t even have power steering.

Also on Test Drive: 2015 Smart ForTwo Electric Drive

Inside, the ForTwo continues the Smart tradition of maximum funkiness in minimal space. Everything’s a repetition of ovoid shapes, from semi-magnifying glass over top of the temperature slider to the infotainment surround. There are very few soft touchpoints (none for your elbows, for instance), though the fabric covering for the dash looks pretty neat.

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