The Smart Car from the Micro Compact Car Company, a subsidiary of Daimler-Chrysler, is a revolutionary new vehicle that has people lining up to purchase it in over 25 different countries. It began as a joint venture between Mercedes-Benz and the Swatch watch company in 1994. As of 2005, after Swatch had pulled out of the venture, Daimler-Chrysler bought 50 percent of Boblingen, Germany-based minicar manufacturer. Today, over 750,000 units have been sold worldwide.
The most obvious characteristic of the Smart Car is its tiny size. Overall dimensions for the base-model Smart Car are only 106.1 x 61.38 x 60.71 inches (length x width x height). It's the smallest car in the world! The 45.4 cubic feet of passenger volume offers 39.7 inches of headroom (as much as most luxury vehicles); 41.2 inches of legroom; 48 inches of shoulder room and 45.4 inches of hip room.
While things are kept snug, the Smart Car provides enough comfort for passengers to enjoy the ride - and save like mad on gasoline costs. There is also a surprising 8 cubic feet of storage space in the rear (12 c.f. if you stuff it to the roof). Also, by utilizing the folding passenger seat, you can even haul a set of skis in the Smart Car!
EPA testing procedures estimate the 2008 Smart Car's mileage ratings at 33 mpg in the city and 41 mpg on the highways. Even if you're constantly thrashing these little beauties, you're still going to save huge at the pump. As a matter of fact, according to http://fueleconomy.gov, the Smart Car is "the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid gasoline-powered vehicle in the USA today." The fuel tank itself has a volume of 8.7 gallons.
Safety and Crash Test Results:
Amazingly, the Smart Car is exalted for its superior safety features. As stated by the company, "When you are on the leading edge of vehicle efficiency and small vehicle design, the issue of safety is a critical element. The "Tridion Cell" technology of the Smart Car is likened to the casing of a walnut - what's inside is protected by a hardened outside shell that is designed to distribute external forces with great efficiency.
Both longitudinal and traverse framing members act to instantly displace impact forces and protect the precious cargo - you! The forces are distributed over a large area of the car instead of being centralized. Front and rear bumpers of solid steel are bolted to the safety cell frame to yield strong resistance to opposing forces. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) granted the Smart Car its highest rating for frontal and side crash tests.
The 73.5 inch wheelbase ensures that most side impacts will contact the tires and wheels first and then be further absorbed by the framing members. The doors are also reinforced with steel framing. In addition to a collapsible steering column, airbags, anti-lock brakes, safety belt pre-tensioners and limiters, stability control, and brake force distribution, Smart Car offers some additional unique safety features:
Wow! - that's more advanced safety features than almost any other vehicle in production, regardless of its size. In short, the Smart Car addresses your concerns for safety thoroughly and comprehensively.
There are three trims of the 2008 Smart Car available: the ForTwo Pure; the ForTwo Passion Coupe and the ForTwo Passion Cabriolet. All come stock with a 1.0L 71hp 3-cylinder Mercedes-Benz engine with a 5-speed automated manual transmission. MSRPs are $11,590, $13,590 and $16,590 respectively.
Is the Smart Car right for you?
Sacrifice some space and speed and the Smart Car can be a practical choice. Quality engineering, the highest available safety ratings, the highest gas mileage, sporty styling, affordable pricing and the world's best conversation piece are strong incentives. And with worldwide sales quickly approaching the 1 million unit mark, the Smart Car may be more than a cute, passing little fad.