Comparing test drive of ForTwo vs. 1969 VW Beetle

I test drove a ForTwo Passion at the San Jose Dealer several months ago. In many ways it felt similar to Madge (my 1969 Beetle). It gets real cozy in the VW when a passenger comes with but the ForTwo seems roomy by comparison. The two cars seem to accelerate about the same. Madge gets twitchy above 70 so I never go faster but I image her top speed would be about 85 mph. I've heard, absent gusty winds, the ForTwo is relatively stable at higher speeds. On the test drive, I took the ForTwo on the nearby I280 freeway. In this area the freeway surface is in very bad condition and the ForTwo was nearly unbearable at 65 mph. I made a point of driving Madge on the same section on my way home; It was rough but bearable.

I have mixed feelings about the ForTwo transmission. Most of the time I enjoy driving the stick shift in Madge but my left leg gets tired in stop and go driving, especially when going up hill. It might be nice not having to work a clutch in the ForTwo. Madge has tick marks on the speedometer that indicate the recommended top speed in each gear. I forgot to notice whether the ForTwo has similar tick marks. (Could someone post a reply with the answer?)

Of course, Madge does not have power steering. I keep changing my mind about whether I would choose this in the ForTwo. Without power steering, there is very little effort required above five per hour. It's only an issue at slow speeds such as when parallel parking or when making a tight U-turn. Even then, in Madge, I never need more than a moderate effort. Although I have been unable to test drive a ForTwo without power steering, I imagine it would be similar to Madge. When I test drove the ForTwo with power steering it felt like I was driving a go-cart around the parking lot.

The rear hatch of the ForTwo looks like it would be really convenient compared to Madge. The lever to open Madge's very small front trunk is in the glove box. So I usually flip the seat back forward and put stuff on the rear seat which ends up on the floor when I stop suddenly.

The ForTwo is quieter than Madge and the standard radio in the ForTwo is much better than the one in Madge.

P.S. Madge is short for "Maggiolina" which is what they call VW beetles in Italy.

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Comment by Undecided on June 23, 2008 at 10:50pm
I totally agree that the Smart is much safer than Madge. Also, with ABS and ESP, the brakes in the ForTwo are much better than in Madge. Madge does not have power assisted brakes and you literally have to stand on the brakes in a panic stop.
Comment by toes on June 22, 2008 at 12:50pm
I think the bigger deal is that the Smart is probably also a lot safer than Madge. The more rigid body will make for better handling, but it also makes the ride a little harsher than ol' Madge's.
I was in a crash in a beetle many years ago and I know that I would much rather be in a Smart (probably would have been able to stop faster and possibly even avoid the other car).
I was a passenger and it was a very low speed impact ... I got out of it with some seriously sore knees from the dashboard, but the car was totaled (1970s orange one).

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