I own a smart car. It is all I need in a vehicle. I am not a car guy.
It is a fortwo and as the name implies that it is for two persons; not like the slightly dense person who one day asked me how many people my car seats while he/she was looking right at the only two visible seats in the small car. I answered their question with ‘two’. “It seats two people” I said. Their prompt reply to my elucidation perhaps an indication of disbelief or simple nitwittedness, “… but you can fit three people in there, right?” Haha, good one inquisitive person, but no cigar.
Way back in the mists of 2006 I first glimpsed this little car. It was parked at the local Mercedes Dealership and struck a very distinct contrast to the usual types and styles of vehicles sold through that franchise known for its star logo, top notch quality and high prices. This little car looked very different from anything I had ever seen on our city streets and pretty much the smallest too; nearly one meter or three feet shorter than the MINI Cooper. And it looked cute but in a no nonsense kind of way. It also looked like it made sense. It made sense to me. And reading the specs on the window sticker, this little car began to make even more sense. I liked what I read and saw.
Designed around a sturdy frame designed to withstand, but not impervious to crushing impact, the smart choice was a no brainer for me. Also fuelling my purchase decision. This roughly 800kg vehicle is powered by a 0.9Liter three cylinder turbo diesel Bosch engine. That the gas tank under the passenger seat only held 22 Liters … I swear I heard my wallet sigh.
It felt notably awkward strolling into that status palace (not being too worried about status status) but ordering something off their usual menu felt good. Knowing that this little car was birthed and designed in partnership with one of the most recognizable car manufacturers world wide and given their reputation on all things safety and quality, there was not much to think about other than getting rid of the larger than my needs gas sucking north American ride that was causing me monthly wallet pains, both at the pump and in more frequent repair costs for things that started to go sideways.
I still own this smart car today and it still has less than 100k km, just, hehe. It is the only car I own and it has held up marvellously well. It even takes me into places normally ventured into only by mud tiered off road type vehicles and the looks on their drivers faces when they swing around sharp bend in what passes for a logging road is always worth it. Makes me chuckle.
I also chuckle when I sip fuel from a pump when parked beside some oversized behemoth that is driving it’s poor owner straight to the poor house. I get 100km on 4Liters. One of my longer trips was 1,000km from Vancouver to Calgary, Alberta (one way); the cost approx. $50; closer to $70 these days but still a bargain. Top speed for this puppy is a regulated 140km p/h and it likes hanging out around 120-130km p/h on the highway. I’m surprised that I’ve never been pulled over for speeding because I seldom do the speed limit, but I may be wrong on that, wink wink. As for other economic efficiency, a drive downtown and back for example without worrying about parking fees, costs me less than public transit AND I don’t have to smell strangers while doing it.
I’m 185cm tall or just over six feet and have more room in the drivers seat than I did in the Ford station wagon I piloted before I downsized, that was a pleasant surprise to me. And to be fair, I don’t have a family to haul around, no dog to smear up the rear window, so this car was a good fit for my needs. I can pack it full of stuff and it doesn’t mind but I do keep an eye on the weight that I pack in. A few summers ago I went camping with my daughter and had to get creative when it came to bringing all the necessities for a good time. I shipped the food cooler ahead via Greyhound bus and picked it up at the local stop after we set up camp. Rolling into the campground and unpacking the car looked a bit like a clown car in a three ring circus number, funny to watch but doable.
I must admit that there are thing about this vehicle that I don’t much care for. Things like no spare tire, different tire sizes for front and rear, flat bed truck towing requirements, mind numbing dealer hourly rates and service charges, required service every 8k km … but that is it. I don’t mind all the rest that this no frills version provides in fun. It has power windows, radio/CD as basic frills. I don’t need more although I think that my fuel economy goes downhill when I drive with the windows open in summer to try and keep cool.
In winter conditions this little black ball rolls along quite well too, what with brake assist and anti slip features. You just have to drive smarter. And by the numbers of smart cars out there now, it appears that more people are.
Some facts about this model:
- Body Type: 2-door coupe, space frame with polycarbonate panels
- Layout: rear engine, RWD
- Engine: 40.2 hp, 73.8 lb-ft, 799 cc, common rail turbodiesel, I-3
- Transmission: 6-spd clutchless auto (with manual mode)
- Brakes (front/rear): disc/drum, ABS and EBD
- Curb Weight: 730 kg (1,609 lbs)
- Seating Capacity: 2
- Cargo Volume (trunk): 260 L (9.2 cu ft)
- Exterior Dimensions (L/W/H/WB): 2,500 / 1,537 / 1,549 / 1,812 mm (98.4 / 60.5 / 61.0 / 71.3 in)
- Acceleration (0 – 100 km/h): 19.8 seconds
- Top Speed (electronically limited): 135 km/h (84 mph)
- Fuel Economy (city/hwy): 3.9 / 3.1 L/100 km (72 / 91 mpg)