Friday, February 29, 2008

US finally gets "smart"

After being available in 36 other countries, the itty-bitty two-seater "smart fortwo" from Daimler Benz is now available in the US. Several models are here, including a convertible, with prices starting at $11,590.

Smart is a member of the Mercedes Car Group. To date, over 800,000 smarts have been sold. Cars are being distributed in the US through a dealer network operated by Roger Penske's UnitedAuto Group. There are currently 74 dealers. Initial availability is limited, and $99 deposits are being taken online for future delivery.

Despite its size, the car meets all Federal safety standards, but try not to get hit by a train or a tank. Safety technology includes a "hard shell" safety cell and multiple airbag.

The smart fortwo that is available in the United States is:
o 8.8 feet long (you can usually fit two smart fortwos in an average parking space!)
o 5.1 feet tall (the smart still has as much headroom as most luxury vehicles!)
o 5.1 feet wide (two six foot, five inch plus people can sit side by side with plenty of shoulder room to spare!)

The top speed of the smart fortwo is 90 mph.

The vehicle is designed to achieve 40 city/45 highway mpg according to 2007 EPA standards and 33 city/41 highway mpg according to 2008 EPA standards. 2008 standards are tougher for all vehicles.

The fortwo has 8 cubic feet of storage space – 12 feet if you load up to the roof line. This area can easily fit numerous bags of groceries, gym bags and other items that are commonly transported every day, including golf clubs! The rear storage area can also accommodate many sizes of luggage for trips to the airport, but it's probably not the right car for a cross-country trip. The front passenger seat also folds down creating additional space for other items such as skis.

The car is powered by a 1.0 L, 71 HP, 3 cylinder engine with a 5-speed "automated manual" transmission. You can get air conditioning, an alarm and a CD changer, but no rear seat.

The current issue of Motor Trend has an excellent and positive review of the car. More info is also available at
This is a preview, not a review.

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