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Tiny and topless, smart’s 2017 fortwo cabrio is ready for its Frankfurt debut

Daimler’s smart division has introduced the new 2017 fortwo cabrio. Hailed as the smallest street-legal convertible sold anywhere in the world, the third-generation fortwo cabrio will greet the public for the first time at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show.

Smart’s next convertible is fitted with a retractable cloth soft top that can either slide back by a few inches like a sunroof or fully retract into a small compartment located right above the trunk. The fortwo can go topless by simply pushing a button on the center console, or from a distance thanks to a model-specific key fob. Surprisingly, the top can be safely opened even if the fortwo is buzzing along at freeway speeds.

For the full top-down experience, the roof bars that connected the A and B pillars on both sides can be removed and stowed away in the tailgate. Even without the roof bars, the cabrio is safe as its hardtop counterpart thanks to reinforcements such as special high-strength tubing in the A-pillars and a large steel cross that runs underneath the entire car.

The fortwo is relatively well equipped for such a small car. The list of standard features includes LED daytime running lights, Bluetooth connectivity, automatic A/C, power windows, power steering, cruise control, and a multi-function steering wheel. In other words, it’s not a Spartan, entry-level model in spite of its diminutive size.

Mechanically, the cabrio is identical to the regular 2016 fortwo. That means it’s powered by a turbocharged 0.9-liter three-cylinder engine that churns out 89 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and a generous 100 pound-feet of torque at 2,500 rpm. The three-pot is brand new to the smart lineup, but it’s a time-tested unit that powers a handful of Renault compact and subcompact models on the other side of the pond.

Thankfully, smart has tossed out the outgoing cabrio’s jerky automated manual transmission. Instead, the fortwo comes standard with a five-speed manual gearbox, and buyers looking to go clutchless can order a six-speed dual-clutch unit at an extra cost. The fortwo is rear-engined, and rear-wheel drive is the only configuration available.

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Following its debut in Frankfurt, the 2017 smart fortwo cabrio will land in showrooms nationwide early next summer. It will be offered in four trim levels called pure, passion, prime, and proxy, respectively, but pricing information hasn’t been published yet.