By on November 2, 2007

city.jpgThe Smart ForTwo isn't so much a small car as a short one. At just eight feet from stem to stern, it’s by far the shortest car on the market. What's the difference between small and short? A small car can stay low to the ground to achieve excellent handling and fuel economy. A short car only excels at one thing: unmetered parallel parking. The first-generation Smart proved the point. As reviewed on TTAC, it was a noisy, slow, poor-handling, stiff-legged, bouncy and crashy car with meh mileage. So, Daimler says it’s rectified the first-gen's faults. Is Version 2.0– headed stateside in 2008– ready for prime time?

The new ForTwo maintains its Tonka-toy proportions and look at me I’m wearing designer glasses (without a prescription) unconventionality. There’s now a painted parenthesis around the driver’s compartment: a clever if unsuccessful attempt to reassure drivers that Smart’s got their back (as there’s nothing much behind them). From certain angles, the slash-marked Four Two looks like a Pokemon with weird sideburns. Anyway, there’s no denying that observers (especially women) fight the urge to muss the ForTwo’s metaphorical hair and pinch its figurative cheeks.

cabin.jpgThe ForTwo’s new cabin uses shapes, textures and fonts with a bit less originality than before. The dash is now monolithic in the mighty Mercedes manner. And it's a shame the signature twin periscopes (rpms and clock) aren’t standard issue. On the positive side, the interior is still remarkably airy and spacious: a haven for a brace of art loving urbanites. The materials quality and fit and finish surpass Ye Olde SMART’s by a wide margin. Better yet, the ForTwo’s trunk can now swallow a full 58 gallons of luggage. One more Tumi for the road? 

The stateside Smarts are motivated by a one-liter, three cylinder engine. The erstwhile powerplant is a revvy little beast, even at idle. Annoying stationary vibration aside, the mini-mill certainly gives its all– 70 horses– to the cause of forward momentum. Guide the tachometer needle to the 6500rpm redline and you just might accelerate (if that’s the right word) from rest to 60mph in 12 seconds. The ForTwo will also cruise relatively comfortably at 70mph. That’s provided you can wait that long and surmount the recalcitrance of the FourTwo's passion killing gearbox.

bus.jpgThe original SMART was rightly and roundly criticized for its hesitant transmission. The new box still changes gears sequentially (when you request) or automatically (when it feels like it). Gear change times are reduced. But sadly, the new ForTwo still shifts the way Frank Costanza talks. Driving softly, the box swaps cogs smoothly. But hard acceleration will make you and your passenger look like diehard (one hopes) headbangers. Even worse, if you need a burst of oomph for emergency overtaking, the Smart ForTwo will pause for a moment or two before summoning more shove– while you contemplate a messy and untimely death.

The ForTwo’s suspension is also improved– but not by enough. For a city car that’s shorter than an NBA player carrying a midget on his shoulders, the ForTwo v2 rides pretty well. For any other type of car, the suspension sucks. You'd have to be a fan of sadomasochism lite to enjoy the Smart's hard not to say buckboard-quality ride. If potholes mar your local landscape, well, a smart Smart owner will have his chiropractor on speed dial.

The other downside of a hard-sprung car: you can be fooled into believing it handles well. Yes, the ForTwo corners flat. And it's true: my tester’s unassisted steering was as meaty as a cauldron of Texas chili. But the ForTwo's limits are lower than snake hips, and the ESP handling nanny is always on duty. Not to put too fine a point on it, an aggressive driver can put the ForTwo into any handling attitude they like– as long as it's an understeer slide. 

back-end.jpgSo the Smart is an unpleasant-to-drive, one-trick pony. And yet there are plenty of people– some 30k American early adopters at last count– who couldn’t care less about its dreadful driving dynamics. To wit: on a three-hundred mile mosey along the Moselle River, my girlfriend fell in love with the ForTwo. She was charmed by the friendly questions posed by rural Belgians, and amused when the driver of a twenty-ton truck honked and gave us a thumbs up as we passed on a twisty mountain road (I was frozen with fear).

I reckon the Smart ForTwo is the automotive equivalent of Maxwell Smart's Cone of Silence: a great idea in theory, a laughable device in practice. Then again, the ForTwo is a statement. And it does bear a striking resemblance to the Porsche 911: a patently ridiculous concept made drivable by obsessive-compulsive German engineers. But while the Porsche has almost always made money, the Smart never has. Judging from v2, it probably never will.

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112 Comments on “Smart ForTwo Review...”


  • avatar

    I still think it is sad that the original Mini set a mold that other manufacturers can’t even get close to.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    Can it be. The first too post a comment! The Fourtwo is a greenies wet dream, a car so ridiculous and impractical that you'll wish you had a horse and buggy instead.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    I wouldn’t even want to be hit by that thing.

    Why do I get the impression there are those in high places that are considering imposing these types of vehicles on the rest of us?

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    The Fourtwo tries to be a lot of things and doesn't really succeed at any of them. I noticed that any talk of cost was conspicuously absent from the review. A car that is billed as an around town grocery getter for urban environments shouldn't cost more than a mid-sized sedan, not if you want real people buying it. I can't see who would buy this joke except someone trying to make an environmental statement, "Look at how environmentally conscious I am, driving my economical Fourtwo to the airport to catch a flight in my private jet." It's a smaller, less economical Prius in a clowns outfit, screaming look at me, look at me.

  • avatar
    hansbos

    The Smart is a wonderful little city car, especially in Europe. And, by the way, the rural Belgians you talked to about the car on your trip along the Moselle were either on vacation or they were Germans, French, or citizens of Luxemburg.

  • avatar

    The styling/proportions alone make it work. I expect American consumerism will meet or exceed Smart’s sales goals.

    That said, the owner might as well tattoo a Bow Tie, Blue Oval, or Ram on their forehead: it’ll be there anyway once a truck/SUV runs a red light and mows that little thing down.

  • avatar
    26theone

    What? No stated real world MPG figures? It would seem this vehicles main benefit is 50+mpg minimum. What was the mpg during the test?

  • avatar

    Am I really the first person to call BS on the “striking resemblance to the Porsche 911″? Striking? Does the location of the engine and drive wheels a striking resemblance make? Does the Crown Vic bear a striking resemblance to a Ferrari? Does a Chevy Malibu bear a striking resemblance to the 2CV? That’s the laziest comparison I’ve ever seen this site make.

    Now if by resemblance you meant some other English word that does not mean especially similar in appearance or in external or superficial details, then perhaps, there is some comparison to be made between the level of difficulty involved in improving the two very visibly different cars.

    Cheers.

  • avatar
    Geotpf

    This makes sense for a true city vehicle. Say, a Chinese food or pizza delivery vehicle…in Manhattan. That is, it does one thing better than any other vehicle-you can park the little fucker anywhere. Other than that, almost anything else makes more sense. The Prius gets better mileage even though it’s much larger and faster. Any of the now numerous subcompacts is a better compromise between mileage and parking ability and usable space, acceleration, ride, etc. My understanding is also that it costs more than many/all of said subcompacts as well.

    Of course, style over substance may sell a few of these, although I predict very few. I also that after the early adopters get thiers, sales will soon fall off a cliff very quickly.

  • avatar
    lprocter1982

    I think the version for sale in Canada got around 40mpg, which is about the same as my Hyundai Accent. Also, I think it retailed for somewhere around $16-20,000, which is quite a bit more than an Accent.
    I read a letter to the editor in a local newspaper. The writer, a Smart driver, said he was upset at all the polluters driving SUVs and honking and gesturing (negatively) during rush hour at the Smart car. The next day, another letter came in from an SUV driver. He said “If you’re car could go the speed limit, we wouldn’t have to honk and gesture at you.”

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Great review, Martin.

    I guess the Smart comes down to an issue of horses for courses. As a city car competing for parking spots, this works nicely. Otherwise, the mini is probably a more realistic choice.

  • avatar
    ref

    I live in Berlin, and there are quite a lot of those on the streets around here. Since Berlin on the whole is very, very leftish-alternative, I can only conclude that the Smart is made for people who hate cars, but need one for everyday life. I’ve driven one, and oh boy, if I’d to put up with that heap of junk, I’d burn it in front of the factory and get myself a bicycle with a small trailer. Same cargo space, better transmission, even less problems finding a parking space. Would suck if it rained, but then I wouldn’t advice anyone to drive a Smart in bad weather, since those tiny wheels offer no grip whatsoever.

    By the way, the only reason I drove one was a promotion they offered some time ago: “Test drive a Smart for 30 minutes, and we give you 25 Euros!” I should have demanded hazard pay on top of that.

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    I think automakers would really help their cause if their few environmentally-friendly-statement cars were fun to drive. That would hook many of them.

    Hell, it worked for me… my $300 82hp penalty box from my poorer days had a stickshift and manual steering full of feedback, so I fell in love with driving. But give a car hater a Prius or smart… and they’ll never understand what we see in these things.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    Its so cute, i cant stand it. Its like the anti-SUV! No wonder SUV owners hate it. It does the same things as most SUV’s (transport one person to and from work), at speeds that hover around 15 miles an hour at rush hour, like here. Wow. Imagine being reminded that you are not rock climbing with your hyped up fat wheeled 500 hp 4wd apartment sized monster, by an itty bitty tiny car. HAHAHAHA

    And so what if it gets as many mpg’s as a hyundai accent? I wouldn’t be caught DEAD in a hyundai accent.

    I can’t wait to buy one! In red, cabriolet please.

  • avatar
    dean

    Brandon D. Valentine:
    Am I really the first person to call BS on the “striking resemblance to the Porsche 911″? Striking? Does the location of the engine and drive wheels a striking resemblance make?

    No, you’re just the first one who didn’t read the rest of the sentence. The part that says “a patently ridiculous concept made drivable by obsessive-compulsive German engineers.”

    A little reading comprehension goes a long way.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    hansbos, let me complement you on your knowledge of European geography. Having done that, I also have have to praise the editor-in-chief at TTAC, who transformed a convoluted sentence about how our trip went from Aachen to Liège, then through the Ardennes (where we met the Belgians), through the Eifel, alongst the Moselle — into something readable.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    jerseydevil… you can say the same thing about a bicycle, a golf kart, a pogo stick, an old geo metro, or a pair of new balance shoes. For the money, I would take any of the above over a Smart.

    We actually have one at an antique auction in Roswell, Georgia during the last few years. It IS a good runabout (nay car) for NYC traffic but all things being equal I would rather ride a maxi-scooter.

    Since Daimler makes the Smart, you can also be pretty much assured that the economic pollution related to the vehicle will probably be far higher than most other small vehicles that are fun to drive (Miata, Mini, Civic Si, etc)Daimler’s quality has a bigger question mark on it these days than that nice purple asterisk on Barry’s 756th home run ball.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    26theone: I drove it like if I stole it and got 38 mpg. Yeah lousy, I know, but that was pushing 100 mph quite often. The official EU rating for the version I had was 50 mpg. Judging from experience, 45 mpg should be easy to get under civilized driving conditions.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    Steven Lang, your scepticism about Daimler products is justified. However, these Smarts die hard and are remarkably robust (which they should be, given the punishment they deserve). 200k miles without major incidents is considered normal when they are used in courier operations.

  • avatar

    To my southern neighbours who buy one-
    Welcome to the world of constantly changing gears and driving a pogo stick. Bow to your Mercedes technician when you need work done.

    Well..tt least it’s priced somewhat competitively in your country.

  • avatar
    confused1096

    I’m surpised that this thing is so expensive. For the money you can get a car with a lot more utiltiy (Focus, Sentra, etc…) than this, and not much worse fuel mileage. At $8000 or so this would be a huge hit. At $16000 it is a joke.

    Safety wise, no thanks. I shudder to think of one of these blowing through a red light in front of my Crown Vic.

  • avatar

    58 gallons of cargo volume…how many gallons in a cubic foot? Seven and change? Still not much cargo volume.

    I’m looking forward to taking one of these for a test drive, if only because I’ve never driven anything remotely like it.

    Why can’t Honda just bring back the CRX?

  • avatar

    Very enjoyable review. Also loved JerseyDevil’s comments, above, although assuming the review is accurate, it would never be on my shopping list.

    But point of confusion from later comments: MS, if the thing can’t go above 80mph, how could you be pushing 100mph a lot of the time? Did I miss something? Also, I suspect my ’77 Toyota Corolla was probably a bit more solid than the Smart, but driving that thing over 65 made me nervous, and 75mph made me extremely nervous (I did that maybe once or twice in 8 years, and for very short periods. I must say though, that unlike the Smart, the Corolla’s 1.2 liter 4-banger was pretty smooth, even at those speeds).

    I have seen one of these in one of the more affluent suburbs of Boston. It would be a good car for Boston proper, where street parking is extremely scarce and lots can set you back $20 in the first hour.

    My guess is that it would be very hard to design a decent non-active suspension, just because (I’m guessing) the car must be extremely light (how much does it actually weigh?).

  • avatar
    philipwitak

    Three models will be available in the first half of next year: the pure; the passion and the cabriolet. the approximate costs for these are: $11,590; $13,590 and $16,590, respectively. when my wife and i drove one earlier this summer during smart’s cross-country roadshow, we waited in line almost two hours for the privilege. the place was packed – literally hundreds were on hand – while, at the same time, the enormous showroom at mercedes-benz of san diego appeared practically deserted. we heard from current owners whose gas mileage approached 55-60 mpg on the freeway. one woman said she went from spending more $80 a month on gas down to around $20. and the response from everyone we personally spoke with was enthusiastically positive. i initially got very interested in this car after watching a video clip on the web where one was crashed into a dense concrete barrier at 70 mph. the car did look mangled, but both its driver and its passenger emerged from within its trideon safety cell without incurring any sort of injury. it was a fairly amazing and very convincing demonstration. and these vehicles contain an entire page of active and passive safety features. so, considering where the cost of gasoline is going, and just how crowded san diego freeways are during the morning and evening commutes, we both believe this car makes a lot of sense. so much so that we just sold our pristine 2001 slk320 this morning, in preparation to purchase one. the only unknown remaining, as far as we are concerned, is the actual highway driving experience and we look forward to sampling that just as soon as the first shipment arrives. if its good, we’re getting one [already reserved and configured under their promotional $99/fully refundable program]. of course, it will not be our only vehicle – we’re also keeping our new cayman and my vintage boxster. let the good times roll. http://www.smartusa.com/

  • avatar
    PJungnitsch

    I test drove the older version a couple years ago, and was pleasantly surprised. Much bigger inside than I expected, solid and stable on the road, kept up with city traffic easily. The ride was fine, shifting was different but easy enough. Strangely it felt like a much larger car, there just is no back to it!

    Most importantly it felt fun, like piloting a go-kart around. I drive a motorcycle mostly in the summer, and has the same feeling. Of course I have acceleration greater than almost anything on four wheels with that bike, but when can I use it?

    I see this thing like a motorcycle with a roof, cargo capacity, and air conditioning. Same agility, same ‘drive for the fun of it’ feeling, same ‘gas prices are irrelevant’, and ‘parking is fun’, not a PITA.

    The big differences are:
    a)I can drive it all winter
    b)if some old f*cker does a left in front of me I am belted into a virtually unbreakable roll cage surrounded with airbags

    Rather it was built and serviced by Toyota, but still looking hard at getting one next year, and keeping my truck for whenever I need to haul loads of stuff.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    David:
    You got me there — “pushing 100″ meant indicated 100 on the speedometer. In other words, I took it to the limit. Actual top speed, however, is beyond the point, because the Smart quite obviously does not like to be driven at more than about 75 mph (unless you are on a completely smooth and predictably sidewind-free road).

    Officially, Smarts can weigh as little as 700 KG. The Smarts that I drove weighed 800 and 1020 KG (in the case of the softtop). Light weight does not automatically determine a hard ride; I have driven numerous tiny French cars that were both softly-sprung and safe-handling. But when you have a rear-engined, narrow, tall, short car, what are you gonna do?

    (By the way, the softtop/semi-cabrio works very well, and seems to be of excellent quality.)

    About the various comments re: crash safety. Let’s be fair, please. The Smart achieved a crash-test rating of four out of five stars (Euro NCAP). That is better than many a SUV from five years ago. As such, that’s an excellent achievement. The Smart’s poor driving dynamics are actually a result of this focus on passive safety. Nowadays, in order to get good side-crash test results, a car needs to have a certain height. I wish it were not so — I would strongly prefer a “really” small car, such as the Loremo concept. But Daimler figured a Smart has to be tall in order to prevent the average SUV bumper from smashing your head in a sideways crash. It’s an odd and sad world in some ways.

    philipwitak:
    You have a point that U.S. prices will be lower. However, we cannot quote U.S. prices when we test a Euro-spec car. If Smart of North America should allow TTAC to test a U.S.-spec car, I am sure the resulting review will include American prices.

    You are right that at a steady 70 mph, fuel consumption should be great. But this applies to all modern small cars, even more so when they have better aerodynamics than the Smart. Of course I agree with you that for a daily, single-person commute, the Smart is far more sensible than a large vehicle. It rides no worse and is no less safe than the average pickup truck. It’s just that, being European, I have a choice of so many other cars that are vastly superior in most driving (as opposed to parking) conditions. Please check out my review of the Toyota Aygo for an example.

    We do want to be fair, so I quoted my girlfriend’s impressions without reserve. She enjoyed the SUV-high driving position, the flat cornering, the exuberant engine noise, the space, the great seats, the good visibility, the interior quality. But for me, those factors alone do not make a desirable car.

  • avatar
    dawgone

    “”Its so cute, i cant stand it. Its like the anti-SUV! No wonder SUV owners hate it. It does the same things as most SUV’s (transport one person to and from work), at speeds that hover around 15 miles an hour at rush hour, like here. Wow. Imagine being reminded that you are not rock climbing with your hyped up fat wheeled 500 hp 4wd apartment sized monster, by an itty bitty tiny car. HAHAHA

    And so what if it gets as many mpg’s as a hyundai accent? I wouldn’t be caught DEAD in a hyundai accent.

    I can’t wait to buy one! In red, cabriolet please. “”

    hope you don’t have a accident in one of these if you do, you might be caught dead in a smart! i would just as soon go in a hyundai!!!!!!

    • 0 avatar

      Thank you . I have a new one and i love it! i traded my fat toyota 4-runner, which drank gas like an alcoholic at an open bar! I love driving it, gets 50mpg on the interstate and 38mpg around town. i live in an urban area, and heads turn when i go by. but, there are always more asking where to get one. we love ours.

  • avatar
    shaker

    How's the acceleration with the A/C on? I would not even dare to take one of these up a highway on-ramp with semi-trailers approaching from behind at 70+ mph. I predict that these will be banned from certain American highways, much as mopeds and scooters of under 250cc engine replacement; they represent a hazard due to their slow 0-60 times. And, you can have as many air bags as you like, but they can only go off once, so there had better be some real integrity in that body shell, as the "smart" owner gets bounced around like a soccer ball in the chain-reaction crash that they will likely cause by pulling out in front of tons of hurtling semi-truck equipped with drum brakes all around… I think MB is doing a mis-service to any customer by even suggesting that this thing is "highway capable". I'm willing to bet that Consumer Reports will echo that assessment, much as they did with the Subaru 360 (back in the 1970's)

  • avatar
    shaker

    Martin: Depends on the driver’s judgement, I suppose, but on an uphill grade, I’m willing to bet a 0-60 in the 15-18 second range, and I’ve seen enouugh on-ramps (especially on the aged PA Turnpike) that would challange this car severely.
    Also, I’ve also just had three cups of coffee, FWIW ;-) (So, I’m a bit “strident” this morning)

  • avatar
    Johnny Canada

    I recently followed a Smart in the left lane from Oakville to Toronto along the QEW/Gardiner Express Way. Our average speed was about 80 mph. I was impressed by the little Smart’s performance, but worried that at any moment it’s drivetrain might decorate my windshield.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    PJungnitsch: “Rather it was built and serviced by Toyota…”

    It is. It’s called a Yaris 3-door.

    Unless being able to park in the smallest place possible is a paramount consideration, the similiarly priced Yaris is an infinitely better choice than the ForTwo.

    I can’t imagine anyone other than those who live and work in New York City buying a ForTwo. That’s quite a limited market.

  • avatar
    robert_h

    What’s with the poor acceleration? 70hp should be plenty of power in a vehicle this small.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    It’s still a pointless fashion statement. If they want to take it to the next level, make it a hybrid. It won’t matter if it gets worse milage and has less cargo room. Buyers of this thing don’t care, just put a panda bear on the side of it.

  • avatar
    PJungnitsch

    The arguments against the Smart are similar to arguments against a motorcycle. Motorcycles have all kinds of disadvantages, getting wet in the rain, blown around by wind, no place to store stuff, tires every 10,000 km. Plus they are cheap, but not that cheap. Dollar per pound it makes much more sense to buy a Yaris, or hey, even better, a Dodge Caravan.

    But people drive motorcycles anyway because piloting something that small makes every trip fun. With a motorcycle I notice I drive for the trip. In a normal four wheeled vehicle I drive for the destination. Very hard to explain to a cage driver.

    I think motorcyclists will ‘get’ this better than car drivers will.

  • avatar
    veefiddy

    I’m glad it’s here. Is this car the answer to everything? Of course not. But there are certainly people for whom this car makes sense: urban commuters with no public transport options, people who want a second car for errands, people who just want something cool and different. Parking in Brooklyn, a Golf can seem huge and you never go over 60 mph (if that on the Belt!) so why not? If this one sells, maybe we’ll get a diesel or hybrid down the line. What would be really cool is if this opens the door to the world of ridiculous city cars you see in Europe and Japan. Bring the keis!

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    PJungnitsch, motorcycles have one very distinct advantage over the Smart. They can accelerate, and for some motorcyclists, their great acceleration makes riding a bike fun. A car that gets to 60 when it gets there simply is no fun.

    I think any avid motorcyclist would be insulted by likening this car to any motorcycle.

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    I drove one of these several years ago in Rome and on the autostrade to Florence crusing easily around 75mph. It wasn’t that bad! The odd shape makes it very airy and has a wide-open feel on the inside.
    I can see this being a huge hit in certain communities. In many of the “golf course” communities in California and Arizona and the island communities of (for example) Florida tend to have narrow roads and not a lot of parking. Some locals have purchased golf carts but there are a lot of them who clog the roads in their Land Rovers to go 1/2 mile for milk and bread. It would make perfect sense to have one of these as a “run around the island” type of car – maybe gas it up once a month and use it especially when the heat/humidity/downpours make walking difficult.
    If their goal is 30,000 cars, open the dealers now in NYC, South Florida, South Texas, Phoenix, and Boston and they will sell themselves.
    Anyway, I doubt Smart will go the PT Cruiser/New Beetle route and will go the route of the Mini – keep the numbers produced down, make them special, and know your market. I can see some major markets having a few to rent anyway. That’s how I drove that one in Italy – they rented Smartcars and Vespas. (For the nervous types – Vespa + Roman roads and drivers = sheer terror!)

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    For those who worry about the Smart’s acceleration: at least here in Europe, there is a turbo version on offer. I didn’t drive it, but its data looks pretty OK: 84hp @5,250rpm; 120Nm torque @3,250rpm, 0-60 10.6 seconds. With a decent transmission, it sounds like nippy performance.

    (That said: with a decent transmission, the basic Smart would also be quick enough for me, for its purposes. I simply cannot comprehend what is so difficult about driving a 0-60 in 14 seconds car.)

  • avatar
    galaxygreymx5

    Well someone hit the nail on the head with the motorcycle comment. My Fortwo will be parked in the garage next to my CBR600RR. Black/silver exterior, red interior passion coupe.

    I drove a Honda Insight for a number of years and the Smart is a very similar idea. I live in a dense, urban area and agility combined with parking ease far outweigh driving dynamics for me now.

    At the moment I have a current-gen Miata, which I love dearly, but I’m lucky if I can get it out to have some fun even once a month. 99% of the time it’s just in gridlock like any of my other cars were, burning premium fuel to the tune of 23 MPG.

    I specced my Fortwo all luxed out with a bunch of toys for $14,000-ish, half the price of the Mazda. And the Yaris may be a dead-reliable transport pod but the Smart has something that everyone here bitches about Toyotas lacking: character.

  • avatar
    smartspecialist

    I have sold hundreds of these cars in Canada and I need to explain there are only 2 other cars in the same league of mileage as the new smart and those are the prius hybrid and civic hybrid. The car comes with many standard safety features, esp,abs 4 air bags and more. I can vouch for the fact these cars are incredibly safe. I have had several customers in sever accidents where they were not even hurt. One of my customers rear ended a buick that had come to a complete stop going 60mph and was un-injured and there car was not written off as the frame was not bent. However the buicks trunk was in the back seat. I have also had customers get t-boned and I can assure you there is no small car out there that even slightly compares to the smart when it comes to safety. We have problems with air pollution and a high demand for gas this vehicle is great for reducing those problems. Here in Canada the federal government pays people $2000 to buy them as an incentive. Someone else said something stupid about it probably having high emmissions well as usual they were wrong the smart is the global Co2 champion. The new smart car is plenty quick in fact it is much quicker than a vokswaggen bug for example. There is no problems taking this vehicle on the highway and it can keep up with all traffic. The transmission is also a tricky subject, it takes skill to properly shift this car…a bit of practice smoothens the car out and makes it quicker. By feathering the gas pedal like a clutch as you shift you will increase the performance. I just hope all these writters realise the smart is here to stay and also the claim of never making money is not totally true as they are on the verge of making profits now especially with the us launch. Ah and one more sunject Chrysler has nothing to do with smart and never did the company has always been owned and opperated by mercedes and a road test in europe showed a smart getting 546,000kms before failure. So these little cars will hold up much better than many would think. The smart car makes sense in every way, it is the way of the future and it is here now.

  • avatar
    AGR

    A smart is the ideal “commuter car” and everyone should have one to commute,as well its an excellent short distance car to run errands.

    In Canada the diesel version do anyhwere from 4L to 5L per 100 klms, in an urban setting its 4L on the highway its 5L.

    Yes, they are twitchy in side winds, yes they are twitchy if you are passing a semi and there is a side wind, yes you need to pay attention the directional stability is delicate, especially with a narrower track than most other vehicles.

    The Canadian diesel versions cruise nicely at 110kph which is approx 70 mph. The Tridion safety cell with a double floor makes the passenger compartment very safe in an accident, the safety aspect of a smart is as good or better than most other vehicles.

    The sequential shift transmission is a little rough and takes some getting used to to operate it smoothly. The softouch option shifts by itself and its a good way to go, the car even holds itself on a hill for a few seconds when you release the brake.

    The rear compartment is quite roomy, adequate for a few bags of grocery, in the old version the passenger seat back folds forward which give a lot of room.

    In most commuter applications, on average there are less than 2 passengers, its the reason the smart has only 2 seats. For one person the car is very roomy, with 2 its gets comfortable.

    In stop and go traffic the car is as fast as all the other vehicles, keeping in mind that the diesel version in Canada its mostly pedal to the metal most pf the time.

    In snow and icy conditions the short wheelbase and narrow track requires additional attention on the part of the driver.

    Do you need a commuter car? Do you want a commuter car? Get a smart, the cabrio version is a lot of fun.

    In large metro areas most folks that commute are alone in a full sized vehicle using additional fuel, creating additional pollution, using more space, and travelling at 40 mph in traffic.

    Especially in a suburban setting how often do people jump in a vehicle for a 5-6 mile round trip to get milk?

    Yes, motorcyclists do get it better, for them a smart is an all weather motorcycle. If you have a bike, do you get a BRP Spyder or a smart? A Spyder is unsettling the first time you ride one, especially in turns, and no brake lever on the RH side, only a foot pedal.

    Small businesses love smarts, they attract a lot of attention and are ideal for local advertising of the business.

  • avatar
    SavageATL

    Do you need a commuter car?

    So the question REALLY is- can I spend 13-16K for a single purpose vehicle – which then necessitates an additional car for the occasions on which I need to entertain clients, take my family out- suppose my work involves toting large quantities of books around? And the question really becomes: can you live with buying one car for “everyday” use and another car for “weekend” use, trips with the family & so forth.

    Odd how this car is successful/marketed in areas with the best public transport systems in the world. If public transit is inadequate/reviled in places with no parking and $8-$9 gas, I wonder why people think public transit will work here.

    As a car, it fails the Roger Smith test; not a better value than a two-year-old Buick. As a fashion statement, it’s great for the type of person who has a Cayman and a boxster and can afford to trade in an SLK on it. In America, This is what you buy when your rehab took and you lost your taste for coke, yet you still have more money than you know what to do with.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    Thank you, AGR and smartspecialist, for your contributions.

    I think we can agree that the Smart is certainly not for everybody. We can also agree that it is a fine car for some people.

    That’s the beauty of our system — that even niche demands get fulfilled. Let’s not diss the niche demands; let’s just make sure that we know what we are being offered, with all advantages and disadvantages that every product has.

  • avatar
    Jason

    Two words…buy a real little car, a Honda Fit or Mini Cooper. Smart car makes even the crappy Toyota Yaris (USA) look like a…uhmmm…a good car. These toys will be just be a passing fad, and anyone one who buys one will deny they ever did 10 years from now.

  • avatar
    AGR

    Absolutely a smart is not for everybody, if a regular car is a need a smart is a cross between a need/want, where a motorcycle is a want.

    If an individual has a budget for only 1 vehicle a smart is not the answer, a Fit or a Yaris will do a better job.

    In Canada smart sales mirror Mini sales.

  • avatar
    Nemphre

    I don’t see any cute in this car. It looks like it came straight out of 1990; that flavor of chintzy post 80s styling where things stopped being as boxy, but the gaudiness was still there.

    Unfortunately, It doesn’t have to be a good car to sell. It has image, which is all you really need.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    smartspecialist :
    November 3rd, 2007 at 4:05 pm

    We have problems with air pollution and a high demand for gas this vehicle is great for reducing those problems.

    Here in Canada the federal government pays people $2000 to buy them as an incentive. Someone else said something stupid about it probably having high emmissions well as usual they were wrong the smart is the global Co2 champion.

    Local air pollution is not caused by CO2, it’s caused by the things diesels typically produce larger quantities of, like NOX and soot. The ones sold in Canada up to now would produce more of those per mile than any gasoline-powered SUV on the road. A 2004 TDI Volkswagen, for example, has a lower “EPA Air Pollution Score” than a 2004 Chev Suburban, despite getting more than double the mileage of the Suburban.

    I don’t know what the emissions standards are for the ’08s. I’d have to assume they’re higher since they’d be meeting the new U.S. standards for diesels, but I doubt they’re as good as any compact gasoline-powered car.

  • avatar
    storminvormin

    I believe that Smart USA limited the appeal by not offering a diesel version (did it fail emissions?). Many subcompacts get similar mileage to the petrol version with at least twice the utility. I have a feeling that sales will plateau quickly if the mileage can’t be improved. If I have to drive a car with that many limitations, it better be getting at least 50mpg city(like the diesel version).

  • avatar

    savageATL Odd how this car is successful/marketed in areas with the best public transport systems in the world. If public transit is inadequate/reviled in places with no parking and $8-$9 gas, I wonder why people think public transit will work here.

    Just because Smart can sell in places with great public transit doesn’t mean public transit isn’t extremely useful in those places. There are always going to be people who, for one reason or another, can’t rely on public transit even where it is good, just as there are always people who can use public transit even in places where the transit system stinks, because even the worst transit systems are convenient for those who live near one stop and work near another.

  • avatar

    Again, great editorial, some very interesting comments. I’m glad to know a lot more about this car than I did before. I bet Zipcar and Flexcar will buy them (two car sharing companies which have just merged), and I bet they will see a lot of sales in the more crowded cities, mine (Boston) included. Given the high mileage, I will be very happy to see people driving them.

  • avatar
    dancote

    For the life of me I can't understand Hummers, monster pick-ups and Ferraris. But if it's what floats your boat and you can afford them, enjoy! Hope you're getting as many smiles per mile as I am. Prefer your econobox? I'm happy for you. Need a minivan for your family? That's understandable. Don't like the smart car? Don't buy it. 

  • avatar
    altoids

    Let’s be real for just a moment. The car is called Smart. That says everything about it’s demographic target – smug single city dwellers who don’t need to go to Home Depot, who don’t have families, who don’t drive farther than the nearest Whole Foods.

    Being a single city dweller myself, I see the logic of the Smart, but the Toyota Aygo or Yaris is easily the better value. More car and better quality for less money. The only reason to buy a Smart is for the fashion statement.

    Fortunately for Mercedes, plenty of Americans with money to burn want to buy a driving monument to their snobbery, so I expect it to sell well. This is America – three cheers for anyone who figures out a better way to part fools from their money.

  • avatar
    AGR

    The reason Canada got the diesel instead of the gas version had something to do with having the car comply with Canadian requirements. It was easier and more expediant to do it with the diesel that the gas powered car.

    There are some smart owners that are totally immersed into the “fuel economy thing” other have a smart simply because they want a smart.

    A smart is not a car that leaves people indifferent, its unique, it attracts attention, they also get tipped by pranksters (smart tipping),attracts a multitude of comments both positive and negative.

    The Tridion cell is metal, the body panels are plastic and easy to change and alter the appearance of the car. The color of the Tridion cell is the color of the car, not the body panels.The car on the photo is a Silver Tridion(color of the car) with red body panels. Dealers can quickly interchange the body panels from one car to another.

    Brabus is the aftermarket supplier of choice for smart.

    Never a cap S its smart not Smart with a capital.

  • avatar
    casper00

    What a waste of money and time. Insted of spending money to improve the vehicles right now, car compant comes out with all these mini cars or whatever they want to call it. Total waste of time and money…..

  • avatar

    Altoids: Being a single city dweller myself, I see the logic of the Smart, but the Toyota Aygo or Yaris is easily the better value. More car and better quality for less money. The only reason to buy a Smart is for the fashion statement.

    Fortunately for Mercedes, plenty of Americans with money to burn want to buy a driving monument to their snobbery, so I expect it to sell well.

    Is it necessarily snobbery? Is everyone who buys a Mini Cooper a snob? Additionally, I can easily imagine that in Boston (my home) or NYC, it would greatly increase the availability of street parking, even relative to the Aygo (which sounds from the TTAC review like a great car) or the Yaris.

    I can remember in the early ’90s when I was getting ready to trade my 160ish inch long ’77 Corolla, and living in Wash DC proper, worrying about how much harder it was going to be to park if I bought a 177 inch Saturn or a 190ish inch camry. The length was one of the things that killed the Camry for me (understeer was the other) but I spent time going through downtown trying to figure out how much less parking would be available with each car. In Boston proper I could easily imagine making up the extra cost of the Smart over the Yaris in reduced parking costs (try $15-20 for the first hour).

  • avatar
    PJungnitsch

    I could easily imagine making up the extra cost of the Smart over the Yaris in reduced parking costs

    The smart is cheaper, as well as being safer (SAB and ESP standard). In Canada, priced on the road, a base smart with air/auto is $2500.00 less than a base Yaris with air/auto.

    A good video from Texas of a smart test drive.

    http://thescooterscoop.blogspot.com/2007/10/tsstv-s2e2-smart-car-test-ride.html

  • avatar
    thetopdog

    PJungnitsch:

    The fact that the smart has ESP standard has nothing to do with it being a ‘safer’ car than the Yaris. I really can’t see how anybody that doesn’t drive on a lake of ice on a daily basis would need ESP in a Yaris, you really have to try hard to get out of shape in a car that underpowered

  • avatar
    rudiger

    FWIW, the fortwo, at around 2/3′s the length of a Yaris 3-door (3.5 feet shorter), would be quite a viable alternative in those heavily urban US cities where parking space is at a premium (NYC being the best example). Clever marketing by smart in targeting the young, well-off, trendy, hipster, city dwellers who aspire to the likes of Volkswagens and MINIs may get them to go for the stylish fortwo as an alternative to taking the subway.

    Likewise, should the price of gas continue its sharp upward trajectory, the smart would have a reasonable chance for modest success in limited areas of the United States.

    OTOH, the smart requires premium fuel, too, negating any cost advantage its higher fuel mileage might have over other, larger subcompacts.

    It’s also worth noting that ‘microcars’ have occasionally been tried in the US in the past. In fact, the smart fortwo seems quite like a modern iteration of the late fifties’ BMW Isetta ‘bubble car’. It would be interesting to see a side-by-side comparison between the Isetta and fortwo.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    I see the Smart as a summer only, water resistant, commuting alternative to a motor scooter. Excluding Darwin Award aspirants highway use and driving in snow is precluded.

    Most traffic codes define parallel parking as locating both curbside wheels not more than 12-inches from the roadway edge. Excluding angle parking zones nose-in parking is prohibited.

    One or two visits to a Mercedes service department will eradicate any illusion Smarts are economical transportation.

  • avatar
    thx_zetec

    It is not the car for me, but will step in and defend it.

    1. Safety: In a head on collision I’ll usually take the heavier vehicle, but simply looking at head on collisions is mis-leading. NHTSA data show that some small cars have low fatality rates, and some giant SUV’s have poor fatality rates (example, Ford Excursion). One reason giant vehicles are not as safe as you’d think is that they don’t handle as well – there is something to be said for not crashing in the first place.

    Also there is no doubt that lighter vehicles will improve safety for the *other* drivers in multi-vehicle collisions. When I’m driving my giant, 2,600 lb 1999 Ford Contour I’d rather mix it up with a Smart than an Excursion.

    Finally compare the Smart to motorcycle, it is much, much safer.

    2. Fashion: I’ll admit this car will rely on style statement – function per dollar is not best in class. Style sells most other cars too however – example how many SUV drivers ever go off road? If someone wants to spend an extra few thousand to get better mileage and look “cool” fine.

    3. Function: One person commented that the Smart is useless and not better than “horse and buggy”. Actually for day-to-day commuting or shopping is is perfectly useable car.

    4. Acceleration: 12 second 0-60 time is slow by today’s standards but there are many older cars on the road with similar acceleration. Yes I am spoiled by today’s blindingly fast (my car can do a sub-ten 60! ;-)) cars, but come one. With decent driving skills it would have no problem.

    5. Most Americans will not want this car, but to be successful it only needs a small percentage.

    6. Interesting to compare to Harley Davidson. Both are style driven, but the Smart is much more practical, about same cost, much safer. The ‘cycle has better acceleration as usual. Of course these two will never compete head-to-head, but the point is that style often sells vehicles, and this car actually has some substance.

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    @ altoids:
    Being a single city dweller myself, I see the logic of the Smart, but the Toyota Aygo or Yaris is easily the better value. More car and better quality for less money. The only reason to buy a Smart is for the fashion statement.

    As a single city dweller myself, I agree mostly. For me, a Honda Fit might fit…

  • avatar

    With oil in the mid-90s and 87 gas rising to ~$3.00 per gallon again, this is a timely review. I think personal cars will be getting more specialized, at least for the working/middle class. If you live exclusively in the big city, the Smart might be just the thing.

  • avatar
    philbailey

    $185 oil change, because the little sucker has no drain plug? Peerleez!

    FMI: Anyone fancy getting hit from behind by an 18 wheeler?

  • avatar
    nurburgringer

    I drove the original version while living in Germany and found it very agreeable not only in town but also cruising at 80mph on the highway. Yeah it got blown around a bit when passing 18 wheelers at full tilt or being passed by 120mph+ Audis, but 80mph is plenty for US highways. 12 second 0-60 time is fine. How often do (adult) people tear off their cars maximum 7 or 8 second 0-60 times in the real world? Me, maybe once per week. Of course I’d prefer to have a Smart Roadster than either the 1st or 2nd gen 4/2 (they’re a ball on racetracks too http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8252571630183295037 ). kurt 

  • avatar
    BEAT

    Wow!!!

    If you are from Boston you will see a lot of this car.

  • avatar
    jazbo123

    “…One of my customers rear ended a buick that had come to a complete stop going 60mph and was un-injured and there car was not written off as the frame was not bent.”

    I wish Merc/Smart could enlighten other automakers how they have overcome the laws of physics and the principles of statics and dynamics. The world will be a safer place.

  • avatar
    Captain Neek

    If you’re worried about speed, BRABUS does a smart, no kidding.

    98bhp; 0-62 9.9secs; 96mph v-max. 225/35 R 17 at the rear

    YEEHAW!

  • avatar
    nurburgringer

    “I wish Merc/Smart could enlighten other automakers how they have overcome the laws of physics and the principles of statics and dynamics. The world will be a safer place.”

    Not sure if you’re being serious, but this explains it pretty well:

    Smart vs. Big Merc head on:

  • avatar
    altoids

    RE: David Holzman

    Is it necessarily snobbery? Is everyone who buys a Mini Cooper a snob? Additionally, I can easily imagine that in Boston (my home) or NYC, it would greatly increase the availability of street parking, even relative to the Aygo (which sounds from the TTAC review like a great car) or the Yaris.

    I live in Boston too, and I can’t think of any place where you could reliably park a Smart but not an Aygo. Sure, there might be a few times where there is just enough space for a Smart, but that would just be random luck, certainly not anything to base a car-buying decision on. And once you get out of the city, free parking is no problem.

    A Mini Cooper is not called a Smart – that’s the difference. It’s a little pricey for the size, but you get handling, performance, and a distinguished heritage. None of which are true for the Smart.

    RE: AGR

    Never a cap S its smart not Smart with a capital.

    I’ll capitalize proper nouns the way cranky English teachers told me and the way God intended, marketing execs be damned.

  • avatar
    shaker

    BEAT:
    “If you are from Boston you will see a lot of this car.”

    Yes, in the shop with bent wheels and control arms… ;-)

    I drove my 97 Camaro to Beantown once for training (I have the RS with the “ground [off] effects”), I hit some areas where I was scraping to bottom of my car every two blocks, and some of the cobblestone streets nearly chattered my front teeth to nubs! (that was about 8 yrs ago).

  • avatar
    BEAT

    LOL. You must be driving a low rider Camaro. I hope it wasn’t on winter or else you will be scraping a lot of snow under your car. I hate those roads too especially the Pedestrian in Boston.

    But now the cobblestone are almost gone in Boston except for tourist spots like Beacon Hill and side walk crossing but rarely on main roads.

    By the way Mitsubishi and Toyota are introducing Smart like cars soon in America.

    Go Pats!!!

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    The review was fair enough. The car has a LOT of downsides. That being said, it is different. Different can often sell.

    If someone can sell them, great. They are kinda neat looking, and it looks easy to get in and out of.

    I would rather have an enclosed motorcycle or trike with tandem seating myself. In the US, there is a real market for a vehicle that would get the motorcycle or high mileage exemption for the HOV lanes but still get you the long way to work that everyone seems to have. It will need AC, and it will need to not be bottomed out by a pothole. You could get 100 mpg with one of these things, and that would sell 50k copies at 15k each ALL BY ITSELF.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    nurburgringer :
    November 5th, 2007 at 11:35 am

    “I wish Merc/Smart could enlighten other automakers how they have overcome the laws of physics and the principles of statics and dynamics. The world will be a safer place.”

    Not sure if you’re being serious, but this explains it pretty well:

    Smart vs. Big Merc head on:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnVNUvixWUQ

    Add another video to the required viewing list of people who believe the marketing that Smart is a safety-engineering wonder. Even without any larger vehicles involved, the Smart doesn’t do as well as a regular sub-compact in this test:

  • avatar
    fellswoop

    I call shenanigans on all this “My Hyundai Gets 40mpg/same as this smaht Cah.”

    People..people…if you go to

    http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/findacar.htm

    and check out the ACTUAL figures for your whip, its a bit more humbling. Take for example, a slushbox-trannied Yaris.

    Its listed as 29 city, 35 highway. So in “mixed” driving, with the gentle folks at the EPA at the wheel, the wee Yaris gets 32 mpg.

    M’kay?

    All these “____ gets as good MPG as the smaht” doesn’t stand up. We can safely assume that even the revised EPA estimates don’t have hoons behind the wheel like the average TTAC reader, and therefore would return quite a bit lower numbers than that.

    Mr. Schwoerer’s review lists him getting 38 MPG in “mixed, often hard” driving.

    Fire away about the metrosexuality of this vehicle, or its hopelessness in facing Amuhurican highways (deals with europe okay though…hmm) but whatever you’re typing, lets be frank (and curt) about the fact this thing DOES get better mileage than just about anything you can buy in all 50 states except more expensive hybrids.

    Also, FWIW, Hyundai Accents are listed (with AT) as getting (again, not with a TTAC’er behind the wheel) as 24 city 33 highway, or 28.5 combined, AKA Not Even Close.

    Just sayin’.

  • avatar
    Johnson

    Toyota may or may not bring a super small car to the US. Acceleration in-fact is very slow and that’s a problem seeing as the average car on the road has faster acceleration.

    As for satefy, some of you are fooling yourselves. While the safety cage might be incredibly strong and rigid, that doesn’t mean passengers will be safe. Crumple zones absorb energy for a reason; so that the energy or force of an impact does not translate to the passengers. Because the safety cell of the Smart is incredibly rigid more of the forces and energy from an impact will translate directly to the passengers. Proper crumple zones also allow barriers to absorb some of the impact energy/force. With the Smart, most of the energy and force in an impact is directed back at the car instead of some of it being absorbed.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    rpn453:
    I think you are in error.

    Both cars on the video, the MK2 Corsa and the MK1 Smart, got three stars on Euro-NCAP.

    Tiff the presenter points out that there is greater interior damage in the Smart but that in both cases passengers would have been unlikely to survive. Which is exactly what happens when you crash a car against a concrete barrier at 70 mph, no matter whether small or large. Or do you have data to the contrary? Do you really think you could survice such a crash in whatever vehicle you are currently driving?

    In a further attempt to be fair, I’d like to point out that these videos all show the MK1 Smart. The MK2 which I reviewed is safer and got four stars in Euro-NCAP.

    I am not saying that a Smart is as safe as a Lexus or a Volvo. But its passive safety is a remarkable achievement, all the same. (It is this focus on passive safety that makes it such a so-so drive, by the way).

  • avatar
    rudiger

    I’m waiting for a few rich debutantes to get squashed in their smarts while trying to merge on some 100 mph commuter highway, then for their wealthy parents that bought the cars for them (along with Consumer Reports) to start raising holy hell about how inherently unsafe the fortwo is (a la Suzuki Samari) with multi-million dollar, class-action lawsuits. After the media frenzy causes smart sales to take a nose-dive, leading to fire-sale prices, I’ll move in like a vulture and buy one for cheap. But not until then.

    A smart simply wouldn’t do as an alternative to a ‘real’ car, but the cabriolet seems like it would be a nicer, safer, alternative to an expensive motorcycle.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    Martin,

    I think the Smart is as safe as a car that size can be with current technology, and that extra 8 inches in the front end of the new one will certainly help, but I was really just trying to point out that the Smart is nothing special in terms of safety engineering when compared to any other really small car with typical modern safety ratings.

    Whether you think you’d survive in either car or not, the Corsa did protect the driver’s space better than the Smart did in the same type of head-on collision, and probably experienced lower peak deceleration since it had significantly more crumple-zone distance. I think you could survive that accident at a higher speed in the Corsa than the Smart.

    I don’t personally think a Smart is unreasonably unsafe (like motorcycles, IMHO). But given its initial cost and the relatively small fuel savings in my total annual automotive expenses, I’d rather surround myself with an extra 1000 to 1500 lb even if the Smart had better ride and handling, back seats, more power, more cargo space, and a manual transmission option packed into that same light weight.

    I finally realized this has a gasoline engine now. Does anybody know if they plan on giving it any diesel options in N.A.?

    Good review, BTW. I enjoyed reading it.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    If you really want safety, try getting hold of the ACTUAL safety statistics instead of the lab rat reports. How many accidents and fatalities does a model have per million miles in the whole fleet?

    I just have a problem with the open book test approach to saving lives. It works great for new models, but is it really the best indicator? Or, would the REAL world be a better guide?

    Would you believe that in the mid nineties (last time I saw the stats) the Mazda MX5 Miata had a better than average fatality record? That’s better than average for ALL CARS, not just sports cars or little cars.

    There used to be a law that this info was available at dealerships upon request, but now they act like they don’t know it exists. What a shame. I wonder if the government creates it anymore.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    rpn453, I agree with your clear reasoning. Given a choice, I would also drive something more substantial. And if possible, with five NCAP stars.

    Life is complicated however and for example for my daughter, perhaps I would recommend a Smart. Simply because it has been proven that youngsters get in a lot of accidents when they go out in hordes…

    Landcrusher, I agree that real-life statistics would be great and I wish they were readily available. But then of course, they would have to be interpreted. Take the Smart: given that it is an urban vehicle, it would be involved in comparatively many accidents per mile. However, fewer would be fatal since urban driving speeds are slower. On the other hand, it is a car that young people like to drive — hence, more accidents. On the other hand, lots of old people like it too because of its easy entry/exiting. Lots of noisy data out there…

  • avatar
    smartspecialist

    I just wanted to add a few responses….the costs of servicing may be a little higher though we do not charger $185 at my dealership. Please remember this is once a year or 20,000kms. There is a drain plug and you can protect your warranty by saving receipts and doing your own servicing as long as you use the right parts. These cars have been around since 1998 so the person who said in 10 years no one will admit they ever bought one needs to understand they will be here for the long haul. I can tell you that the safety is great in real life collisions I have seen the cars after the accidents and to date the only injury one person got was a small scrap on their leg. I am not saying this is the safest car in the world but people need to realise that the safety of the fit or yaris and other vehicles is no where near what the smart is. Another person suggested getting rear ended by an 18 wheeler….well hate to burst your bubble but it probably wouldnt matter what car you were in. In Canada the smart is now priced competitvely with all entry level cars when inlcuding the eco auto rebate. So it makes alot of sense for people who dont need a back seat. Also I would like to note that there are no convertibles even close to the price of a smart. Many people just want a toy for sunday drives to the beach and the smart is perfect for that. There is alot of closed mind discussions going on here. Think about mail cariers who deliver in the country side or other courriers. Travelling sales people, advertising, there are so many exceptional things about this car being overlooked I have to say there seems to be a very traditional school of thought not lookign forward at the future. Many Americans will be shocked when they realise how many of these cars get sold into the US my guess is 15-25,000 per year.

  • avatar
    nurburgringer

    thanks for your insight smartspecialist.
    “Closemindedness” is unfortunately not in short supply…

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    OK, I live in NYC and there are many reason why this Smart thing is not a good choice for a major US city.

    1. The road conditions here will make this short wheelbase car bunch and jump around all over the road. The potholes in NYC will jar the shit out of this little thing. With its tiny wheels and limited suspension certain streets and roads will be downright dangerous. Repairs will be a common occurance for any owner in NYC.

    2. Parking, OK, if a 3 door Yaris can’t fit in a parking spot in NYC, IT IS NOT A PARKING SPACE! I guess most of the folks here that are talking about how well the Smart will work in a large urban US city do not live in one.
    I have traveled to Europe and Japan and the road, streets, and highways in major US cities are very different!

    3. Even if you live in the city center what good is a car that has little to no cargo space? Who the hell needs a non-sportscar car with very limited usefulness? We may be city folks but we actually do more than just transport ourselves and a guest from point a to point b. When us city folks buy cars we do so for practical reasons, like moving things, and shopping. You can’t even pick a friend up from the airport with a decent amount of luggage in a Smart. Plus a two seat car (with no cargo room) is actually a bigger waste of space than any sized four seater you can think of. IF you only need to move your own ass, take a cab, the bus, or subway it is cheaper and more enviornmentally friendly than a Smart.

    My folks live in a Golf community in Hilton Head SC with some tiny roads and trails. The smart is not the best choise in this enviornment either, Their golf cart charges in the garage! The Golf cart can seat four, it has a covered roof and it emit NO pollution.In this setting the fact that a Smart is a “real” car becomes the problem, the engine is noisey, it is actually too fast for these pedestrian crowded roads.

    The Smart is meant for the same type of people that think Segways are useful.

  • avatar
    cjdumm

    It’s hard to think that a city dweller would choose a Smart over a Mini, and it’s hard to think that a fuel efficiency fanatic would seriously choose a Smart over a Prius. Why buy a golf cart when you can drive an actual car?

    Sure, the Smart is cheaper, but it’s not *that* much more efficient than Prii, and neither is it *that* much easier to fit into a small parking space than Minii. It’s at a huge disadvantage in passenger capacity, cargo space, and survivability. If *all* that matters is economy and easy parking, ‘smart’ money would skip the Smart and buy a Vespa. They’re cheaper, more efficient, only a little less survivable in a collision, and they’re even available with sidecars.

    Think the Smart’s got cutes? Nothing on wheels is cuter than a Vespa with a sidecar, unless it’s a Vespa with beagle puppies in the sidecar.

  • avatar
    smartspecialist

    I`m a 230 pound guy and I get into a smart car with my hockey equipment and I have a large hockey bag which fits into the smart in fact there are many cars in which I have trouble getting the bag into. There is a miss conception here about the cargo space in this car.

    A few more things:
    The smart is far cheaper than the mini….
    The wheels on the smart are 15″ alloys….
    You cannont drive a vespa year round…..
    Busses and cabs are not viable alternatives to the freedom of a car as many places are not accessable by public transportation not to mention the fact not everyone enjoys busy overcrowded public transportation systems. Some feel un-safe these days taking busses, trains etc.

    Also to compare an impact on a vespa to that of a smart car is rediculous altogether.

  • avatar
    Kman

    Lots of valid points are being argued about the Smart.

    While I’m no potential customer for a Smart, I do want to emphasize that we need to drop any and all arguments about crash survivability. Far too simplistic and “gut-driven” to say so, if you take a moment to see the videos and test results of crash-tests.

    Amongst many other things, I saw one particular offset-frontal crash test of a Smart with an E-Class, and it is quite impressive. That is one solid shell around the passengers… seems like it’s made from the same material they wrap airplanes’ “black box” in.

    I’ll go try and find that link to share it…

    Point being, make your arguments for-and-against, but the crashworthiness is not one and needs to be dropped.

  • avatar
    Kman

    Smart ForTwo crashes an E-Class head-on

    Here’s that link I mentioned:

  • avatar
    fellswoop

    that link was posted above. but it’s still good.

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    I’m sorry but in that video I do see the driver’s space completely intruded on and deformed by the E-class. I doubt the driver would retain the use of his/her legs after such a collision. Yeah his head will be just fine but his lower body is going to be toast!

    Regardless I think I would feel a little bit more comfort with about a foot more car extending both front and back.

  • avatar
    shaker

    I suppose the key in “crumple zone” is “zone”. The smart has very little of that, so more energy is available to deform the passenger space (or the passengers themselves). Still, it’s an impressive structural design.

  • avatar
    blowfish

    Dont know why Smart took so long to arrive in US of A. Some say is design or whatever, cant understand mercs had only been selling cars in US since late 50s how they cannot make a car to pass all the laws here?

    They boast about the Tridion steel frame that suppose to withstand a lot fo impact and would endangered the passengers.

    If u look at the sticker price u know u cant afford it, for such a small car being pound for pound.

    The ones sold in Canucks land were all Diesel engines, 3 cyl. should get high 60 MPG.
    or even more.

  • avatar
    wsn

    This is a perfect US$5000 car.

  • avatar
    Gypsy

    For Landcrusher or anyone who is interested. Here is a site that shows how many deaths per Million vehicles. The Blazer 2 wheel drive is the most dangerous passenger vehicle on the road by far.
    http://blogs.cars.com/kickingtires/2007/04/iihs_lists_dead.html
    I have a reserve for a SmartForTwo because last summer I was driving a Honda CX500. It only got ~45mph and the 4-2 will get that or close too it and still be safer than any motorcycle. My wife and I drove one last summer and we disagree with the report. I found the paddle shifter fun and the car responsive. It really was a kick to drive. The seats were comfortable and the back had enough room for 3 or 4 bags of groceries. That is all I need and getting something bigger would be a waste of metal. The price is less than a Gold Wing so I don’t understand the argument for the cost. It will keep me dryer than my Honda cycle and has climate control which many of the vehicles used to compare it with don’t. The American car companies don’t want to build me a fuel efficient car so I am pushed into getting a foreign car. I currently drive an old Saturn and it’s seats are horrible and it’s ride is worse than the 4-2’s.

  • avatar
    The Oneders

    Here in the good old Estados Unidos/ Etats Unis, it’s all about choice, which may shock the rest of the world, but we really don’t have much. We’re stuck with what the Uberdesigners in Detroit manage to think up, then have watered down to consumer-level vehicles. It’s like the gorgeous, half-clad girls that are everywhere these days: this is what’s available, but YOU can’t have it.

    Concept cars fit nicely into this. Every year our dream vehicles are dangled in front of the starving public, only to be actually served the same old mundane hash. They’re just airbrushed foldout pinups we can’t have.

    There are any number of tarty looking things available for Europeans and Far-Easterners to drive, but due to(…insert political stuff here: import/export rules, tariffs, environmental hoohaa and the list goes on…), we in this country can’t get our hands on them.

    So when someone actually dangles something that we CAN have, even if it’s just “a cocktail waitress in a Dolly Parton wig”, it shold be no surprise to anyone in this country that people are lining up for a peek at the new kid in town. I’d be wild if I could import from the streets of London, Paris, Frankfurt, even Tokyo or Seoul. AND keep price in line.

    The point is, Europe and the Far East have more choice in safe, fuel -efficient, economical and attractive autos than we do over here. A short stroll thru Westminister or along Grenelle or the Champs Du Mars is all it takes to see that. Can’t remember the last time I saw a Trident on a hood or fender in this country. We can only get what the Good Fathers in Washington say we can have. Oh, I know, it’s because that’s just what the PEOPLE want!

    That’s my two cents on all the buzz over here about the Fortwo. Most of us are sick of 40 year-old Mustangs, T-Birds, Monte Carlos, Caddys, Malibus, Firebirds, Camaros etcetcetc ad naseum with facelifts and tummy tucks that are hyped as new and exciting. No wonder something cute, young and attractive in a garish, Jennifer Garner sort of way makes us want to go out with her, at least past the first date…

  • avatar
    smokescreen

    Sorry if I’m late to this thread – It seems to me that the Smart isn’t replacing “regular” cars, but rather subway trips, cycling, and walking.

    When they were first introduced in Canada I was living happily carless in Toronto, and thought about getting one, for about 5 seconds. People living in an urban area well-served by transit only need a car for those occasions when cargo or passenger capacity is needed or for driving trips out of town. In both of those cases the Smart is hopelessly inadequate, whatever its green credentials are.
    Basically, the people buying these: a)think they’re too good for public transportation, b)probably already have at least one other car, and c) would be better off with a Civic.
    Dumb idea.

  • avatar
    motorhead

    I have a cabrio on order — I’m not a Greenie when it comes to cars (I have mostly V8′s that drink premium gas) — I see this more as a novelty car.
    May use to advertise my business. Will definitely use for short trips near home — my office is 2 miles from home — all on streets limited to less than 50 mph. I do wish that a higher HP version was available right off the bat — 0-60 in 12 seconds is gonna be challenging getting on freeways in Texas! BTW, I test drove one, and for a big guy, there’s plenty room.

  • avatar
    annjoyner

    The smart fortwo ended up with less than stellar safety testing ratings. 3 star passenger side crash ratings. 3 star for rollover. It barely got a 4 star overall. The mpg performance is less than it should be for a car it’s size and what many waiting had hoped for. Plus there are problems for some with the gear shifter breaking. Lack of dealer networks and many states having no dealerships at all. Add to that a 2 year wait in some area’s and the smart car is not a smart choice for many afterall.

  • avatar
    ohnonothimagain

    After (Heaven forbid) a family of four gets killed in one of these things and Smart/Mercedes has to pay out a multi-million dollar lawsuit; then anyone can purchase these Smart cars for about $29.99 delivery included. While small cars are a good idea if EVERYONE has one- these oh so Smart cars are only good for larger cities where dogs walk faster than the average car. I like the notion that America needs to return to smaller more fuel efficient cars, but I’m afraid that as long as a Smart car can be bludgeoned by a SUV/truck in a collision; these cars aren’t really that Smart in the long run. Make 50,000,000 of these available for $ 5,000 each -then you’re making a statement that’s worthwhile. That’s the difference that would make small cars the right idea. Millions of them-not just 80-100,000 a year.

  • avatar
    minnesotadummkopf

    ohnonothimagain – I suspect that there won’t be a lot of sympathy for a family of four if something goes wrong while they’re crammed into a 2 seat vehicle.

    I currently drive a 14 year old Geo Metro. The Smart ForTwo seems like a great replacement vehicle when it’s time to retire my Metro. I can’t remember the last time that I had 2 passengers in my car so I don’t think I’ll miss the back seat. The Smart car will certainly be a safer vehicle to drive.

  • avatar
    96vette

    I test drove an automatic Smart the other day. The lousy shifting reminded me of the time I was teaching my 16 year old daughter to drive a 5 speed stick.

    It was fun to drive though.

  • avatar
    gilrose

    I don’t understand -one liter three cylinder engine and 1800lbs.- how is it that it only gets 30 miles per gallon in city driving? A 2009 Ford Focus 4cyl 2.0 gets 25mpg in city driving! Never mind the ride or shifting problems but this is supposed to be a commuter car, you know stop and go driving, and some people who use it exclusively for city driving report getting less than 30mpg. My 1990 Toyota corolla 1.6L gets 26mpg in city driving. This is 2008 this “smart car” should get at least 40mpg in the city and 60mpg in highway driving! And you must use Premium gas? A two year warranty? Can anyone explain?

  • avatar
    car crash

    http://media.snuffx.com/g57jd5/091107/snuffx-dot-com-car-accident-family-dead.html
    this is the reason i would never buy one of these cars

  • avatar
    jstnspin82

    I always wondered how this car could survive an suto accident, then I saw pics of one. It was completely inside a Semi rig. Would never buy one. I would rather spend more on fuel and safety. Buy a 3 series, A4, or C class, you get about the same fuel economy without the chance of losing your lunch on the highway!

  • avatar
    bdab4

    The mini is more pratical.

  • avatar
    Daddyof2

    The people who drive these cars are like the people that use reuseable bags when grocery shopping.

    They think that they are making a difference…and thats just precious.

  • avatar
    Paddlepaws

    People commenting on here seem to be missing the point about the smart concept. This car is only meant to be a city commuter car, not the family wagon, the work truck or the tow vehicle. It is for people in urban areas that need a small car to commute in relative comfort and get great gas mileage to boot. The Yaris and Mini do not fit this scenario. The Yaris might have more seating, but it is fugly, and the Mini is way over priced. I feel the smart car is also a bit overpriced for its size, but this is something that could be worked on in future years. They should have the Passion priced at $13,000 out the door, and the Pure for around $9,500.00. The cabrio could start at $15,000. The price was the biggest detractor to me. I am 6’3″ and this car had more headroom, and legroom than my current 4 door sedan. It also had peppier pickup, and had a decent ride. The car had plenty of room inside for one (which is mainly my driving situation anyway) and two fit inside with plenty of room, and it doesn’t feel claustrophobic. The Mini and Yaris are also very difficult to get into and out of easily for anyone over 6 feet in height. I had no problems at all with the paddle shifters in the smart model I test drove. The shifts were smooth as glass, and the power going up grades was excellent. I think some people commenting on here expect this car to do more than it was basically designed for. The fit, finish, and materials were excellent, and so what if it takes premium gas- you only have to put in 8 gallons, and even at $4 dollars a gallon, that is $32 and if you can go 500 miles on that, who can complain? People just need to step back and enjoy this car for what it was designed to do. If you need 4 doors and a big engine, buy that and be quiet. This car is definitely not for you. Buy the fugly Yaris and go on your way.

  • avatar
    padi176715

    I still find it amazing how many of the commenters have not driven the car.  Getting information from people who are guessing or assuming is not getting good information.  Despite the reviews of “professionals” the smart has attained a very high level of owner satisfaction.  There must be a reason.  Things like reliability, cost, insurance cost, safety, fuel milage.  You know, the little things.

  • avatar
    gino

    If you care about the planet and your wallet you WONT buy a smart car. I had bought one … after 150,000km the car was garbage. It is a disposable car…drive a few times then throw it out! It still makes me sick how much money I wasted on that car!

  • avatar
    zeus01

    Top Ten reasons not to buy a Smart car:
     
    1. It just so sucks to look out into your driveway on a Saturday morning only to discover that in the wee hours a couple of drunk teenage punks on their way home from a high school dance (at which they once again failed to get laid) took out 30 seconds of their lives to flip your new toy onto its roof.
     
    2. If you’re unfortunate enough to own the Diesel version it’s definitely a rude awakening to discover that even with the block heater plugged in over night your Smart won’t start below -25C.
     
    3. After having the car towed back to the Mercedes dealership on that same cold morning you get to watch the service manager treat all the well-heeled Mercedes owners like royalty, but when you step up to the counter and announce that you have a problem with your Smart he looks at you like you have the herpes and tells you to take a number. That gorgeous super-model that was sitting next to you waiting for her $400 oil change on her Benz quickly dons a pair of Oakleys and moves down to the seat at the far end of the waiting room.
     
    4. For the price of a Smart you could have had a Honda Fit— and spent the difference on a trip to Europe. Or a year supply of beer…
     
    5. Those memories of brisk acceleration will remain memories.
     
    6. After driving potholed streets for a couple of days you begin to realize that you never really appreciate the fillings in your teeth until they’re gone.
     
    7. Transmissions that shift like rock crushers are maddening.
     
    8. So are strong crosswinds.
     
    9. Being passed by a guy on a Vespa is embarrassing.
     
    10. “Only 40 miles per gallon?? They promised me 60 MPG!! I could have had a Mini Cooper!”

  • avatar
    wintermutt

    i finally drove one of these. as a way of intro, i own an NSX, 3 series bmw and a toyota tundra.
    in the past i have owned a 911 SC, a Z28, el camino, acura legend.
    also some motorcycles.
    anyway – i loved the smart car. i got it on interstate 80 doing 70 MPH and was grinning the whole time. forget all the BS, someone must have hired some spin meisters, see for yourself, go drive one!
    they shift just fine, the accelerate just fine, and they are more fun than anything i have driven in a very long time.
    i have two problems with the vehicle – build quality is below average, and i think if i get in a collision with a truck i am toast. but anyone with a lotus is used to that!

  • avatar
    arednek

    So many good points below this article, only problem is good or bad every comment here can be used against half a dozen other cars just as well. I have been selling used cars for many years and have had the chance to drive every make and model from a beat up $200 trade in, to brand new porsche’s. I would never try to compare a smart to a sports car in speed and handling, or to a 3500 diesel for power or a twon and country for space. |But I do see this kind of crap right here and everywhere else someone wants to trash talk any car ever made, try to make a fair comparison, the space in a smart car is for two (hence the name Smart ForTwo) but that space if you read the measurements give the drive more room than a 2500 Ram quad in hight and leg room that also goes for the hummer H2, of the vehicles I compared the only one with more head and leg room is the Mega cab and its only by 1.5 inches… but the smart does come in short when it comes to with so it was clearly made to suit a driver who isnt large in the rear, that being said I wear a size 42 and fit very well. lets hit accelerating next 0-60 in 10.5 sec on the base model (pulse) 8.8 on the top of the line Brabus, yes its not a sports car but match it up to the Aveo, 13.5 in the base and 11.7 in the Aveo5, both similar size and price. how about the Mini I see mentioned here a few times 8.8 in the same diesel and 7.6 in the S, so yes it is a little faster for only $10,000 more than the compareable Smart (you can build them right on their own sites and see pricing and all of these specs as I am doing while I write this, I do not know all this off hand I am looking up all of these specs and prices as I go) Lets see how fast the same site rates the H3, 10.1 base and the alpha at 8.8 … I’m not seeing a huge difference here but dont worry every car has at least 1 angle you can play to make it beat another car, the Hummer would win in over all interior space and since all hummer owners buy hummers for car pooling that point goes to the hummer. Dont get me wrong I do not have, drive or intend to buy either one but I would like to match this up apples to apples and not continue this appalling display of misrepresentaion. you want to bash the top speed of a smart, well your right again its not a sports car but it seems to drive just fine at 130 kmph it took to deliver it with occasionally going up to 140 for fun, but the speed in Canada is limited to 110km so I’m not sure where anyone could have been that the smart didnt keep up? it may not be as fast in a drag as alot of cars but my few turns in it I found people do not pass me, not because they cant but because the average driver does not go as fast as their car can. lets hit safety for fun, the smart fortwo Tridion Safety Cell has held over 7000 lbs without crushing, now of course thats the saftey cell or what some people refer to as the roll cage, so yes half that weight will mess up the the rest of the car rendering it undriveable, but leaving the occupants alive and well. The standard for a vehicles roof is vehicles under 6000lbs have to hold 3 times their own weight on the roof (incase of a roll over falling etc) but vehicles 6000 – 10,000 lbs only need to hold 1.5 times their own weight and from the few I looked up they just barely make it. so whats safer to roll over in a vehicle that weights 1700 lbs and can hold up over 7000 or one that weights 6150 like a 250 supercrew that can hold 9950 (as per fords site) ? I guess if you are worried about a dinosaur over 7000 lbs stepping on your vehicle you need that truck but when it comes to the more common slipping on an icy road and flipping I can not see why anyone thinks being in something that weights 6000lbs and can support almost 10,000lbs is safer than 1700lbs that can hold over 7000? but I’m sure there is something I might have missed. My point for all this is when it comes time to bash a vehicle you put it up against the most absurd comparasins, you want the space of a van… buy a van! you want speed buy a sports car, you need to pull a 13,000 lbs trailer do not buy a smartcar! if you happen to be single or a couple who does mostly city driving and does not drive all your pedestrian friends around all the time, you are not drag racing on weekends and not moving furniture/lumber or snow mobiles around every day, this maybe the car for you. We can all play this comparasin game reading all sorts of real facts about vehicles and use just the ones to make our point so we look right and leave out the rest, but really is anyone stupid enough not to see that coming a mile away? buy a Harley and tell me its safer in a head on collision that the smart? and last point I missed along the way this car is made by sold by and maintained by Mercedes Benz which not only speaks for the over all quality and reliability but if I were to trade in my Mustang for a sub compact 2 seater I would rather have an engine block that says Mercedes than Hyundai or chevy (not to bash either of those but we all know some makes are status symbols and Mercedes is one of them even if it is 35 square feet and 1700lbs)


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