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2008 smart fortwo passion cabriolet Review

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Let's face it. For the price, there are a lot of good small cars that are much more practical and cheaper to maintain than the smart.

But for some odd reason, we're always willing to spend money on things that seem superfluous. We pay to sweat in a sauna and dunk ourselves in cold water at the spa. We pay to go to the gym when we could just go jogging or work out at home. We pay for bottled water when it unlimitedly flows out of the kitchen faucet. What's wrong with us?

The 2008 model is actually bigger; it's longer, wider and rides on a longer wheelbase.

We like looking fashionable and trendy, that's the problem. And the smart is just that. A Hyundai 2-seater with a 70-hp engine would have to be priced at $9,000, but the fashion statement of the smart means that $15,000 is a price people are willing to pay. Is it worth it? And can the smart cabriolet justify its $21,250 price?

Still cute
You don't mess with a good thing. The new fortwo looks so much like the old one that you have to look twice to distinguish them apart. But the 2008 model is actually bigger; it's longer, wider and rides on a longer wheelbase.

This test car's color is supposed to be red, but it's actually orange, which isn't to my liking. But one thing that's innovative with the smart is that for $1,630, you can order a second set of body panels painted in one of six available colors. So, if you feel like it's time for a change, your smart can easily change its appearance. The body panels have to be changed at the dealer, though, and the operation costs somewhere around $240.

Inside, the curvaceous dash of the old model has been replaced by a more-conventional layout. But it's still covered in stylish cloth, and I wonder why other manufacturers don't do the same; it looks upscale and doesn't glare on the inside of the windshield.

Inside, the curvaceous dash of the old model has been replaced by a more-conventional layout.