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Introduced at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1997, the smart Fortwo quickly became a staple on the streets of Paris, Rome, Barcelona and London. It took over a decade, but the United States joined the smart party in 2008. The smart project was started by Swiss watch maker Swatch who turned the plans over to Mercedes-Benz for production. The name smart is an acronym for Swatch Mercedes ART.
The 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?
Smart ForTwo Review Car Review Rating
Since the late 90’s, hundreds of thousands of smart cars found homes in European towns, villages and apartments. I first encountered the smart fortwo at my tribe’s annual Testfest. Canada’s finest motoring hacks caned the diminutive machine on highways, byways, roads and racetrack, where one burly journalist declared the smart as much fun as a fart in a wetsuit. And now the butt of a thousand headline puns is headed your way America, thanks to the otherwise sane metal movers at The United Auto Group.
Speed matters. So does size. A Lamborghini Murcielago can crest 200mph on an autobahn, but it’s slower than a pair of roller skates down a busy city street. Enter Mercedes’ chic new SMART car. It’s tiny– small enough to dart through any gap wider than an NFL lineman. It’s quick– well, “nippy”. It uses less fuel than a John Deere lawn mower. In fact, the SMART should be an urban driver’s dream come true. It isn’t.