Smart and Smarterer?

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
smart and smarterer

"I always feel safe in my Smart ForTwo." Famous last words? They were spoken by Smart's USA Prez as he exited the Mercedes-Benz stage at the North American International Auto Show. His copilot was none other than Daimler's Doktor Z. Ex-Chrysler exec Dieter Zetsche and ex-Mitsubishi suit David Schembri created quite an impression: two well-manicured businessmen sitting in a cartoonish red car that neither would be caught driving if they weren't running the company that builds said clown car. Then again, maybe the ForTwo isn't as foolish as it looks. Daimler– and by that I mean a suitable underling rather than a Gulfstream-riding exec– drove three of them from L.A. to Detroit. The company claims the diesel Smart clocked-in at 59.8 mpg while the gassers delivered 49 mpg. Whether or not they drafted a corporate 18-wheeler for the transcontinental trek is unknown. Oh, at the conference, someone said something about improved mileage Mercedes.

[reported by William C. Montgomery]

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  • PJungnitsch PJungnitsch on Jan 13, 2008

    When it came down to it the Mercedes execs finally realized that nobody actually knew how such a small car would do in North America until they actually made them available. And so they tried them in Canada and not only did people buy way more than they expected but they bought them in small towns, drove them long distances, etc. The biggest issue with the smart is they are a Mercedes, with expensive pricing, dealers only in the big cities, expensive servicing, some reliability issues and no financing available. If Chevrolet or Toyota would have made them they would have sold 10X the number.

  • Robert Schwartz Robert Schwartz on Jan 13, 2008

    One summer about 50 years ago, my Grandfather, of blessed memory, borrowed an Isetta, from a car dealer friend of his, who was always lending him odd machines (Borgward Isabella anyone?). The Isetta was as minimal as you could get. It had one door, which was the whole front of the car. Since Grandpa really favored Cadillac Fleetwoods, it was just a lark and we didn't ride out of the neighborhood in it. Back then, safety equipment was not an issue anyone cared about. One year, Ford tried advertising safety and no one bought Fords that year.

  • Thetopdog Thetopdog on Jan 13, 2008

    If a car with cartoonish looks, a price that is ridiculously high for what it offers, gas mileage that is too low to justify riding around in a tiny penalty box, a rough ride, an underpowered engine and inadequate handling is a 'great car' I would dread to see what a 'bad' car consists of At least it's easy to park! Although the money saved by buying a more practical Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris, Nissan Versa, etc. instead of this joke could be used to fund a few years of parking lot fees and/or parking tickets

  • Gentle Ted Gentle Ted on Jan 14, 2008

    A smart Car was driven by a Toronto Star Auto reporter along with his sibling to Vancouver from Toronto, now thats a long way no matter what Vehicle one drives, of course it was the Diesel version as it was the only one available here in Canada, I never did hear how much Fuel they used on this trip either. I do know I see the odd one in this rural area, one thing thats bad about the Smart Car is that everything has to be done by the Dealer, ie Oil Changes etc, also no dip stick on either Oil Sump or Transmission