From the inside looking out, it is hard to imagine that the Smart car is only 8.8 feet long, 5.1 feet tall and 5.1 feet wide. The luxurious seats rival that of any Mercedes, and the trunk area isn’t all that different from what’s left in the back of most of seven- or eight- seaters. And, although the federal government’s Car Allowance Rebate System (a.k.a. “Cash for Clunkers”) has come to an end, the Smart car means is not too late to get “smart” when it comes to buying a new vehicle.
For Bob Parent of Bethany Beach, buying an actual Smart car seemed a no-brainer. He and his family only had one car and, living at the beach year-round, needed to get a second one. Instead of an expensive gas-guzzler, they chose to go the eco-friendly route and thought about the Smart Fortwo – so named because it’s a two-seater.
“Our son-in-law had one, and we liked it,” he said of the Smart Fortwo. And, starting at around $12,000 and getting 41 mpg, “It was a reasonable price and gets excellent mileage.” He added that his son-in-law’s Smart Fortwo is yellow, and it “makes you smile.”
Two years ago, Parent put in an order for his own Smart car, with a $100 deposit. When buyers are interested, they just put their order in with their deposit, and when a car becomes available, they get a call asking them to confirm the order. Parent said the only negative about buying a Smart car was having to go to Annapolis, Md., because the closest dealer is there.
“When they have a car, they call and ask you to confirm and finalize. And if, yes, you move forward. And if, no, you gets your hundred bucks back. It’s a no-brainer,” he said of the process.
“The car is designed by Swatch” – the watch people – “and manufactured by Mercedes Benz. It’s a Swatch-Mercedes piece of art,” pointed out Parent with a laugh. “And it has all the safety features you would find in a Mercedes.”
Because the Smart Fortwo is a smaller car and has a smaller, shorter wheel-base than most, Parent said one of the most important things when driving one is paying attention to the road and watching out for things like potholes. Asked whether he feels safe while driving one, he answered with no hesitation.
“Absolutely. You are sitting in steel cage, and when you get hit, the whole cage takes a hit,” he explained. “If you get run over by a semi, you might have a problem. But, then again, you’d have a problem with most small cars.”
Just recently, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rated the Smart Fortwo at the top among small cars in a roof-crush test. The Fortwo can withstand 5.41 times the car’s weight if it flips on its roof – better than the Toyota Yaris, Hyundai Accent, Mini Cooper, Honda Fit and Chevy Aveo.
As far as speed, Parent said the car can go about 60 to 70 mph and that he averages about 60 mph when he has to take it to Annapolis for servicing, although he has seen them go even faster.
“I was driving to Wilmington in my other car, going 65 mph, and one passed me,” he noted. He said he consistently gets about 40 miles to the gallon of gas.
Parent added that, when you think about all of the short trips that need to be taken for errands, it makes sense to have a Smart car, and he believes that it allows the life of his other car, a BMW station wagon, to be extended.
Smart is a brand of Daimler AG, and the Fortwo is manufactured by Daimler. The vehicle is reported as getting 41 mpg on the highway and is considered an ultra-low emissions vehicle, as certified by the State of California Air Resources Board. It comes equipped with many functional and safety features found in most luxury models.
More than 1 million Fortwos have been sold since 1998, in 36 countries. The 2009 Smart Fortwo is available in five trim levels, ranging in price from $11,990 to $20,990 excluding tax, title, registration, destination charge, options and other dealer fees. Those models range from a basic coupe to the BRABUS cabriolet, with sports suspension and exhaust, as well as a convertible top.
For more information, visit smartusa.com online.