The Smart Fortwo is not a vehicle with much renown among drivers for its performance due to the tiny, three-cylinder engines in each generation. These tiny, somewhat stylish pods are supposed to offer easy transportation around a city. However, an owner in the United Kingdom has managed to make a first-gen Fortwo a lot more exciting, arguably even terrifying, by stuffing a Kawasaki ZX-10R into the back.
The Kawasaki packs a one-litre four-cylinder engine, and the interview with the owner suggests this is a recent example of the mill because he says it produces around 190 bhp and revs to 13,000 rpm. This is a serious upgrade for the first-gen Fortwo because the most powerful, Brabus-tuned versions have 74 bhp, and they can come with as little as 41 bhp for the diesel version.
This one still retains a motorcycle-like sequential gearbox, which makes it a bit tricky to drive. Neutral sits between first and second gear, so setting off requires pushing the gearshift forward. Then, two pulls backward are necessary to reach second. There's no mention of reverse, so drivers need to be careful about where they park to prevent a potentially embarrassing scene of pushing the little car backward to get out of the spot.
The owner acquired the Smart with the Kawasaki engine already installed but has been working to make it a better driving machine. He has added upgraded brakes in front and performed a disc brake conversion at the back. The rear end also now rides on aftermarket coilovers, but they still require some tweaking because the tail can be somewhat lively.
The result of all of this work is a wild Smart. The interior is deafening because there's nothing concealing the engine in the back. The huge boost in power also makes this little hatchback lightning quick. Driving it for a short stint looks amazing. Anything longer could become exhausting because of the sound and concentration necessary to keeping this wild animal under control.