I like Smarts.
It’s not a guilty pleasure, for I am not ashamed. It is a bizarre pleasure, however, lacking consistency and believability.
I’m a true blue car enthusiast with a love of V8 rumble, turbocharged torque, supercharged sizzle, manual shifters, and performance wagons. And yet, I can’t help myself: I like the way the Smart Fortwo steers. I’ve adapted to the way it wants to be shifted. I love the feeling of interior airiness. And I periodically enjoy well and truly pushing a car to its limits just to make proper forward progress. Approaching the limits in those performance cars I love? That’s a recipe for jail time. (Read More…)
In 50 years we’ve gone from this…
At the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show, Daimler used the occasion for their smart brand to introduce what they say will be “an extremely limited special edition” street legal production version of the smart fortwo by fashion designer Jeremy Scott known as the smart forjeremy, first shown as a concept at the Los Angeles show late last year. Also at this year’s Shanghai show, Buick introduced their latest Riviera concept, a product of GM’s Chinese design studio. 2013 is the 50th anniversary of the first Riviera, introduced on October 4, 1962 as a 1963 model.
US sales of the not very Smart car have fallen off a cliff. The Financial Times reports that “Smart sold only 661 of its fortwo model in the US last month, more than two-thirds below October 2008 and the lowest for any month since the car made its debut in the US early last year.” Other analysts are blaming low fuel costs and the foolishness of US consumers who just don’t get the appeal of microcars. Not me, I blame the fact that the Smart car is an all around underwhelming vehicle which gives up too much capability in return for mediocre fuel economy. Note that the Smart brand is a failure in Europe as well. “Daimler’s decision to export Smart to the US was a critical part of its rescue plan for the brand. For all its pizzazz, the little car has been a financial millstone. Daimler came close to shutting down the brand in 2006, but opted instead for a €1bn ($1.5bn) restructuring aimed at making the business profitable by the end of 2007.” How anyone (let alone Roger Penske) thought a failed European microcar would be saved by exports to the US is beyond me. Smart’s new “Value Days” 1.9% financing promotion isn’t going to get the job done. Not even a Toyota-esque Saved By Zero campaign would do the trick.