Tag: smart

By on June 19, 2017

2017 smart fortwo cabrio electric drive (Euro spec image)

It’s been roughly a decade since Daimler’s Smart Automobile first caressed America’s purple mountains and amber waves of grain with the microscopic Fortwo. Despite a promising first year in the United States, the brand never really managed to carve a space out for itself in a competitive and size-obsessed marketplace. The same is true (over a slightly longer timeline) for Canada.

Standalone Smart dealerships have become a rarity, frequently rolled into Mercedes-Benz sales lots over the years. But both have to ask themselves the same question: Is it worth pursuing sales when Daimler converts the little two-seater into a pure electric later this year and abandons the gasoline engine?

Obviously, the gut reaction is to tell every Mercedes-Benz franchise “probably not” and recommend any standalone Smart dealership immediately consider arson. Small car sales in North America are dwindling and EV sales are miniscule. Claiming a vehicle that exists as one of the least capable examples of both is a good investment is not something any rational person would suggest. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for the unfortunately named Fortwo ED in North America.  (Read More…)

By on May 22, 2017

2017 smart fortwo cabrio electric drive (Euro spec image)

Will anyone notice? Mercedes-Benz certainly hopes so, as it recently choose to ditch gasoline powerplants altogether and make the Smart sub-brand an all-electric affair.

The automaker announced pricing and specifications for its 2017 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive coupe and convertible today, billing the two-seater as one of the cheapest EVs you can buy. The droptop variant remains the only electric convertible you can get your hands on, should that be your thing.

While many scratch their heads and wonder why Smart continues to exist in North America, the automaker hopes to entice consumers with a lower starting price and added range. (Read More…)

By on May 2, 2017

smart-fortwo

You’d probably never guess this from examining any parking lot in suburban North America, but Daimler’s microcar brand is actually doing exceedingly well. Despite the global trend toward crossovers, Smart saw record sales last year and increased its global volume 21 percent to 144,479 units. More amazing is that it’s still a brand that owes the entirety of its success to one niche market.

Smart doesn’t seem interested in changing course, either. While it’s abandoning internal combustion units to pursue a strict EV-only mentality in the United States, it will be business as usual for the the rest of the planet. But, with much of the industry offering spanking new compact crossovers and with fuel prices still so low, wouldn’t it be in Smart’s best interest to look beyond the limited microcar segment?  (Read More…)

By on September 23, 2016

2017 smart fortwo cabrio electric drive (Euro spec image)

Smart, the plucky and perplexing subsidiary of Mercedes-Benz, has the unique distinction of offering an EV variant of its sole U.S. model that’s generally accepted as being an improvement over the gas-powered model.

Certainly, a vastly reduced range doesn’t boost the tiny package’s appeal, but the two-seat city car really isn’t meant for those long-legged highway trips. That’s what the Ford F-150 and Fiat 500 are for. No, the Smart Fortwo Electric Drive has two aces up its sleeve — instant thrust, and a transmission that mercifully stays in the same gear.

For 2017, Smart has sized up its Electric Drive, accepted its limitations (no, we can’t add a backseat ... ), and made it a bit better in any way it can. (Read More…)

By on July 23, 2016

elk (Oregon Department of Agriculture/Flickr)

Elk. Majestic creatures, and delicious, too. You can cut that meat with a fork. But colliding with 900 pounds of it in the smallest car on North American roads is no one’s idea of a picnic.

That’s exactly what happened last week, when a tiny, first-generation Smart Fortwo went head-to-head with a bull elk on a dark British Columbia highway.  (Read More…)

By on March 9, 2016

Smart car snowmobile Image: Autobahn Tuning Inc./Facebook)

Let’s face it: when it comes to modern cars, no model is as maligned as the diminutive two-seat Smart Fortwo. Well, maybe the Mitsubishi Mirage.

Measuring just 8-feet-10-inches in length, the rear-engined Smart looks less like a car than a rolling phone booth, or perhaps the bubble that would take Patrick McGoohan back to The Village in the TV show “The Prisoner.”

Jokes and instances of car-tipping aside, the Smart harbors a secret ability that sets it apart from its larger peers — and it took an Ontario mechanic to find it.

(Read More…)

By on November 23, 2015

2016 smart fortwo exterior-005

America loves big cars, big trucks and fat crossovers. If you doubt me, all you need to do is look at 2015’s top sellers. The top five vehicles account for 13 percent of all vehicles sold in the USA this year, and the smallest of the five is the Toyota Camry. Not so small. Check the top 20 list, and the smallest entry is the Corolla which has grown so large we would have called it “midsized” in the ’80s.

Today, we’re looking at a very different kind of car: the 2016 smart fortwo (yes, that’s all lower case for some reason), a car that is six feet shorter than the Corolla.

2008 was Smart’s best year in the USA with some 24,000 cheeky micro cars sold. Since then, sales haven’t been swift. Yearly sales numbers in the USA bounce between 5,000 and 14,000. Canadians, however, seem to love them. Sales volumes in the Great White North hover around half the US volume. Not impressed? The entire Canadian market’s sales numbers are “smart-sized” compared to the United States. Heck, Smart outsells Maserati in Canada. Could it be that, like nationalized healthcare, the Canadians are up to something good? Or, just like healthcare, is this a good idea somewhere else, just not in the USA?
(Read More…)

By on November 20, 2015

2010 Chrysler PT Cruiser

I recently got up behind a Smart car in traffic the other day, and I realized something: Smart has managed to do what very few other brands can boast about. They’ve successfully redesigned a car that sells primarily based on its style.

Now, you might think this is a bit of an unusual point, because you probably don’t think the Smart Fortwo is a very stylish car.

In fact, you probably think it looks like a shopping cart with alloy wheels. But hear me out, here, because I think one of the biggest challenges automakers face is redesigning stylish cars. And I think the good folks over at Smart deserve some credit for doing it right.

(Read More…)

By on August 30, 2015

2015-Smart-ForTwo-ForFour_

The next-generation Smart Fortwo, expected to go on sale in North America shortly, won’t achieve the magical 40-mpg benchmark in highway driving, reports Car & Driver.

Fuel economy for the Mercedes microcar will stay similar to the current generation at 33 mpg city and 39 mpg highway when equipped with the automatic transmission. Manual models will get the same highway fuel economy, but give up 1 mpg on the city cycle.

(Read More…)

By on July 21, 2015

Infiniti Q30

Confirming their June confirmation, Infiniti will bring a production-ready version of their compact Q30 to the International Frankfurt Motor Show in September.

The compact, which will be built in the United Kingdom, powered by the same 2.0-liter, turbo four that powers the Mercedes GLA and CLA under a joint agreement between Mercedes and Renault-Nissan.

The related compact crossover QX30 shouldn’t be far behind.

(Read More…)

By on July 8, 2015

Smart advertisement

Ahead of its new Fortwo and Forfour models, Smart is releasing an advertisement destined to live only on the Internet.

The ad — titled “Swearing Kids” — is completely self-explanatory and accurate. It is wholly uncensored and mostly funny and full of naughty language that’s definitely Not Smart For Work.

(Read More…)

By on June 11, 2015

2016 smart fortwo (47)

Those hoping for a Smart crossover/SUV to hit showrooms will be waiting for a while, as there are no near-term plans to expand beyond the city car market.

(Read More…)

By on May 20, 2015

2015 Smart Fortwo ED

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…)

By on April 24, 2015

Mercedes-Maybach 01

Not too long ago, Mercedes didn’t have plans for either a Maybach or smart crossover. Looks like those plans have changed.

(Read More…)

By on April 1, 2015

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Having made its world debut last month in Geneva, the 2016 smart fortwo took the ramp in North America at the 2015 New York Auto Show.

(Read More…)

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