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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Smart fortwo: The microcompact car Review


When I think of small cars, the first thing that comes to my mind is Indian cars. Small cars are very popular in India. Now, there is going to be a big change. In the face of growing price of fuel, people of developed countries are now shifting toward small car and ‘Smart fortwo’ is going to be the next big thing.

What is ‘Small fortwo’?
Smart fortwo is a rear engine two seater micro compact car. The first smart car was unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1997. At that time, it was named City Coupe.

About the company:
The company Smart GmbH is a subsidiary of Daimler AG.The idea of a small car first came to Swatch the renowned European watch manufacturing company. The idea was to create a ‘Smart car,’ which will be very small and allow “nose-in” parking. The project was named ‘SMART’ an acronym for Swatch Mercedes Art. The idea of the project was to introduce a small, fuel efficient, affordable car for young people.

In the beginning, Swatch CEO Nicholas Hayek teamed up with Volkswagen but it did not work. Later, Swatch teamed up with Daimler-Benz. The factory was established in Hambach, France in 1994. It was a joint-venture between Daimler-Benz (now Daimler AG) and Swatch. The car that came out at first was below Hayek’s expectations. The joint venture experienced heavy losses and Swatch came out of the venture. From 2003 to 2006, it lost around 4 billion euros. That same year, the Smart was redesigned and launched in Europe in 2007.

Dimension:

  • Wheelbase: 71.3’’ (1,810 mm)
  • Length: 98.4’’ (2,500 mm)
  • Width: 59.6’’ (1,510 mm)
  • Height: 61’’ (1,500 mm)
  • Weight: 730kg

Safety features:

  • Smart fortwo is made of “Tridion” still frame which makes the car sturdy and safe. In a 70mph crash test conducted by BBC car show “Top Gear,” the car did very well. The frame also adds a stylish look to the car.
  • To maximize the power of the ‘front crumple zone,’ the engine has been moved to the rear.
  • The top speed is limited to 84 mph for safety reasons. Small car like this can become very unstable at high speeds. The 50-hp engine accelerates more slowly.
  • The Smart fortwo comes with electronic stability program with hill start assist.
  • The Smart fortwo comes with anti-lock braking system with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD).
  • The Smart fortwo has acceleration skid control system.
  • The Smart fortwo has electronic brake assist.
  • The Smart fortwo has dual-circuit brake system with servo assistance.
  • The Smart fortwo has disc brakes at front, drum brakes at rear.
  • According to the latest news report, the Smart fortwo earned top marks in side and front crash test conducted by Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) of America. The crash test report was published on Wednesday. Despite having an improved whiplash protection, the car did not earn high score in whiplash protection. The IIHS did not consider Smart fortwo an ideal for all situation car. CNN.com reports:

The ForTwo, which is about three feet shorter and 700 pounds lighter than a Mini Cooper, earned the best possible rating of "Good" for front and side impact protection in tests by the IIHS, a private group funded by insurance companies.

The ForTwo received an "Acceptable" rating, which is the second best possible, for whiplash protection in rear impacts. Technically, that would prevent it from getting a "Top Safety Pick" from the IIHS.

The ForTwo is the smallest car the IIHS has ever tested. "All things being equal in safety, bigger and heavier is always better," said institute president Adrian Lund in an statement. "But among the smallest cars, the engineers at Smart did their homework and designed a high level of safety into a very small package."

On the other hand, the Smart fortwo earned a top rating of five stars in the crush test conducted by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) which was released in April. Smart fortwo earned three star for passenger protection.

Other features:

  • Smart fortwo comprises of replaceable, recyclable body panels. The panels are also available in different colors.
  • Because of the small size of Smart fortwo, it is easy to park. In a parallel parking space of one standard car, three Smart cars can be parked.
  • Smart fortwo is also the lightest car in the European market.
  • The high length-to-width ratio makes Smart fortwo a very stable car.
  • Though small, Smart fortwo comes with enough space in the back for groceries.
  • In the city driving, the Smart fortwo goes 46.3 miles in one gallon and 68.9 miles in one gallon in case of highway driving.

Engine:

  • The three cylinder engine weighs 1500 pounds. The 2008 version car will have a different engine.
  • Only Pure, the low end model comes with a 50-horsepower engine. The other three models are available with 61 horse power engine.
  • All the engines (50 hp/60 hp) have three cylinders and turbochargers.
  • With the 61-hp engine, the Smart fortwo can go from 0 to 60 mph within 15 seconds.

Steering, gear, and other mechanisms:
The Smart fortwo has a manual transmission but the clutch is not required. You can shift with a tap of the shift lever. This system creates lag between shifts.

Different models and variations:

  • The Smart Fortwo is available in different versions. The versions differ in terms of the body shape, comfort features, interior features. For example, luxury features such as leather-covered steering wheel, a glass roof, air conditioning and a better stereo system. .
  • The Smart fortwo coupe version comes with a solid roof. This version has three different models: pure, pulse and passion.
  • The Smart fortwo cabrio version comes with a retractable canvas roof. The cabrio version also comes with three models: pure, pulse and passion.
  • The Pure and the Pulse are equipped with the Softip transmission system.
  • The Passion is equipped with the Softouch system, an automatic transmission.
Smart fortwo electric:
In 2006, DaimlerChrysler also launched an all-electric version of the Smart fortwo known as the Fortwo EV. It was showcased at the British Motor Show in July 2006. This electric Fortwo will have 30-kilowatts of power. It will reach the speed of 30 mph in 6.5 seconds and its top speed is 70 mph. On full charge, the car will go 70 miles.

Success of Smart fortwo:
Initially, the Smart fortwo was not so successful in Europe but the sales figure went up slowly. The main motivation behind buying this car is its small size, easy to park, and fuel efficiency. More than 750,000 Smart fortwo cars have been sold in Europe, Japan and other countries.

USA car consumers have always been interested in large vehicles. With the fuel price hike they are shifting toward small fuel efficient vehicles and the biggest example is Toyota Hybrid Prius. The major weakness of Smart fortwo is its price tag. Depending on the version and features, the price ranges from $25,500 to $35,500. Along with fuel efficiency, American buyers also want bank efficiency. There are other small cars that cost less than Smart fortwo. The Smart fortwo will be very successful in Canada.

Useful Links:

CNN

Wikipedia- Smat Fortwo

Wikipedia- smart

Wikipedia-Smart EV

How Stuff Works

3 comments:

jack said...

Posted this link in www.surfurls.com

1933-1935 Buick Shop Manuals said...

wow that so cute car, and very small, it is like a min copper modern image...is it an hybrid car??nice post by the way...


1933-1935 Buick Shop Manuals

Anonymous said...

The Smart Fortwo is catching on great here in America and Smart Car of America is the proud parent of the largest smart car community in the world. http://www.smartcarofamerica.com