Smart driving

This past Saturday, Rob and I were making a stop at the Whole Foods store in Princeton and saw a display of Smart cars, new fuel efficient autos from Swatch and Mercedes Benz. Upon leaving, a rep from Smart USA told us they were holding free test drives that day between 12 and 7 and that for writing a comment upon completion, we would receive a $10 gift card to use at Whole Foods. We were so on it!

Smart fortwo was a joint venture in the 90's by watchmaker Swatch and luxury car manufacturer Mercedes Benz and has turned into an international sensation. With over 750,000 cars sold in 36 countries and features in movies like Da Vinci Code, Legally Blonde 2, the Pink Panther, and Scoop, Smart fortwo is making it's debut in the USA in 2008.

Smart cars blend safety, energy efficiency, and recyclable materials in its design. It gets 40 mpg with a 8.7 gallon tank. It's even interchangeable, allowing buyers to change out color panels to suit their liking. And the price is right, with the pure car starting at $12,000.

Even though we are not interested in buying a new car, we had to test the Smart car out. The test drive was fun. They had all 3 models available in different colors. Before we hopped in with our Smart guide, we were instructed through the traveling view room, where we could browse about the car and see pictures of its assembly. When it was our turn, we met our guide and hopped in the driver's seat. Thankfully, the car was both automatic and manual. I don't drive stick and with a quick move of the gear shift, the car was in auto mode. Surprisingly, there was a lot of room up front, especially since it's just a car for 2 people (no passengers).

For the test drive, I was able to go out onto Rt 1, just for a few feet. The car drove smoothly, but the break pedal was more sensitive than mine. And the side view mirror had more magnification than my eyes were comfortable with. Overall, the car gets a thumbs up from both Rob and me. But is it safe? Would you buy one for a new driver? According to MSNBC, it received a 3 out of 5 stars in the European safety test. And will it sell? You don't see too many BMW minis . Look around the highways around here. Regular and mid-sized SUVs are everywhere. We don't have the small narrow streets that you find in Europe. Even though Smart came to Princeton for the test drive, I don't think there will be too many around here. We shall see.

Good luck Smart, you cute little car! And thank you for the free lunch at Whole Foods!

1 comment:

SmartieUSA said...

As a Smart ForTwo owner (G & K imported) I get dozens of people every day who are interested in my car. People seem to fall into two groups. Those who think it is the coolest and want one today. And the other group like this person who feel they need to justify why it won't work in their life.

Just saying it won’t work because people in her area drive SUVs is exactly the issue. You don’t buy it because the masses drive wasteful vehicles that are perceived as safe. Have you lost the ability to think for yourself? As for driving the SUV, the "Safe" part that makes them weigh in excess of 2 tons is also why they have the highest accident rate among vehicles. Try swerving or stopping to avoid an accident and you have little chance in the SUV. It handles like a truck because it is one.

A fun two seater that has such high performance, mileage and crash ratings is exactly what America needs. It is exactly what any country without good public transportation needs.

And to answer most peoples final question, and the perpetual myth made by car magazines. No it is not for the city only if it was they would call it ForCity. It has capacity and space enough for two people to go on vacation and still afford the trip.

Think for yourself and try one. I did and my SUV has been relegated to hauling building supplies.

SmartieUSA A satisfied 2005 Smart ForTwo owner.

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