Smart ForTwo: 40 MPG Highway, But it Uses Premium

Ever since Smart announced the ForTwo minicar was headed our way, the brand has cultivated an image of environmental responsibility a Sierra-Club tree-hugger could trade in his Prius for. And why not? The ForTwo is the picture of footprint frugality: It's more than 3 feet shorter than a Mini Cooper, and when Smart invited journalists to California this week to check it out, we easily fit two of the cars into a standard parking space. Using the EPA's revised 2008 ratings, Smart estimates that the ForTwo's 70-hp, three-cylinder engine should achieve 33/40 mpg city/highway with the standard automatic transmission. That puts it well ahead of the 118-hp Mini, which the EPA figures to get around 26/33 mpg with the automatic.

Here's the catch: Smart recommends premium fuel.

The ForTwo will run on regular, Smart president Dave Schembri said, but in order to achieve the best power and efficiency, 91 octane is recommended. That puts a damper on the mileage figures. Smart isn't the only one who does it — Mini, too, recommends premium fuel for the Cooper. Both brands cast their cars as premium niche vehicles. Does that explain why their customers can pay a few bucks extra at the pump? Share your thoughts below.

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