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05. 31. 2006

Smart Car

Pure.jpg

Passion Cabrio.jpg

Other than a Mini Cooper, I haven’t wanted a car as much as I want one of these. I’ve been seeing more and more of these little Smart cars zipping around the streets of Hong Kong lately. They are so tiny and cute that I feel like I could just grab one from its rooftop and push it along in traffic like one of those die-cast model toy cars.

I believe that up until just recently, the Smart cars were only available in Europe and other Asian countries, but I found out that there is now an importer in Santa Rosa, CA called Zap that has started bringing them in.

The Smart cars come in 3 different styles. In Europe, they’re called Fortwo, Forfour, and the Roadster. You can compare them on Smart .

However, they did away with the Roadster in the US, then repackaged and renamed the models as Pure, Pulse, and Passion. All models come in either coupe or cabrio styles. Maybe it’s just me, but I kind of like their original, simple and straightforward names.

Even though these Smart cars are not electric or hybrid vehicles, with gas prices continuing to go up and up with no end in sight, it just seems to make sense to be driving a smaller vehicle that gives you good gas mileage. The Smarts (as they’re called) have recently been promoted to “starlet” status by starring in the blockbuster movie Da Vincci Code with the lovely Audrey Tautou, so perhaps with their newly established celebrity status, more people will see that small is beautiful, instead of going for the big, bigger, biggest designs of SUVs.

However, there are still some controversies surrounding their actual gas mileage. The European version of the car, which is manufactured by Smart, a subsidiary of Mercedes-Benz, is rated to get 60 miles per gallon. However, in order to meet the U.S. emissions standards, the modified version for the US received an initial Environmental Protection Agency rating of just 37 mpg. The company's internal tests indicated that the modified car should get at least 50 mpg, so it has asked the EPA for a retest. (Via Wired News )

Prices range approximately from USD $12,000 for the cheapest model, to just over USD $20,000 for a convertible.

No matter what you think about the intelligence of these Smart cars, their gas mileage, or their funny looks, one thing is for sure, with one of these, you’ll easily be able to squeeze into that tight parking spot!

Posted by maggie    Category: cars
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Comments (18)

Sadly the Smart Roadster and Smart Forfour are being discontinued by Daimler-Chrysler, and Smart are only going to make the ForTwo from now on. The Forfour was going to be my next car o_O

Jim In Holland:

Hi - just a quick point, Pure, Pulse and Passion *were* the original names. ForTwo and ForFour are the new names.

I drove one a while back - a ForTwo about 5 years ago - and it was alot of damn fun in the city (Amsterdam and Hilversum) but on the open highway it was another story.

It's really light - a plus and a negative. In europe, where we do 65-70mph on average on the highways sans Autobahn, there was much more vibration than I'm usually comfortable with.

A few times I swore it was going to get picked-up in a strong wind, skip off the bridge and enter the atmosphere.

Still - a perfect city car. LA should have these by the thousands...

Saskatchewanian:

The Smart car has been available in Canada for nearly two years. Though not popular, it has a small following ... mostly gadget nuts like us. Very roomy inside, takes crashes well, but the ride's a bit rough. Attracts plenty of comment wherever it goes.

Brenda:

Lots around in my city - Madrid. Didn't know they were going to discontinue the Forfour model. Too bad as I've just started seeing them. Definitely a car for the city where parking is always a problem.

morfydd:

Even more sadly, ZAP has been a deep disappointment. I've been on their mailing list for almost two years, and have only become more and more infuriated by their chirpy, self-serving press releases. At no point have I actually been able to buy a car.

When I found out (through other channels, not via the spam-list) that they had actually shipped to a dealership near me, I was appalled to find that they've marked up a $15,000 car to almost $30,000.

I really really really want a SmartCar. I really really really refuse to deal with ZAP.

Hello! Lovely site. Really. I think the Smart link is off a bit!

I lust for these cars and love to sneak around Europe just to spy on them. I want to hug them each time I see them. Maybe citycarshare.org in SF should pick a few up?

What about the Sparrow? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corbin_Sparrow

Maggie:

Vancouver, BC is absolutely teeming with them. And the last time I visited my brother in TO, there was some sort of SmartCar event going on because no less that 50 of the things drove down Front St.....

Last October I drove the forfour all over Northern Italy and I LOVED it. The SMART car is zippy and fun...easy to drive, goes very fast and got great mileage. I can't wait to buy one here.

Stefan:

Hey, I drive a Smart ForTwo Convertible for almost four years now. In Germany they where available from the beginning. It's great, and believe it or not you'll fit enough baggage in the back to go for holiday trips. We've been around europe with it and it is great. Specially the convertible. I also have a Land Rover Defender, so it is like driving a Gocart around town. One of the best feature is finding a parking space in town. It fits in everywhere, you can even park in vertical or horizontal to the pavement.

I also drove the ForFour which was great. A super car but the DaimlerChrysler made to many stupid cars like the roadsters and lost to much money. They should've just stick to their concept and then reduced the price of it, then it would be a superb car.

It's too bad these are being sold as costly toys for yuppies. Small cars should be marketed as cheap, efficient transport for people with little money. More like the Perodua Kancils back home than VW Beetles or Cooper Minis here. (MYR 21,143 = USD $5810)
http://www.perodua.com.my/our_cars.php?sub_page=kancil&sub_nav=exterior

I live in Milan, Italy. Smarts have been around here for years now. Great cars and sell like candies. You could easily count tens of them in a one mile walk.

Unfortunately over here people still go for suv's. And streets here have been designed centuries ago, for walking....

Dale Rogers:

Can I buy one in Germany, bring it to the U.S., have it modified to meet emissions specs,etc.? Costs: Car? Shipping? Modifications? Customs? Anything else?

RAY SCOTT:

I WENT TO EUROPE A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO AND FELL IN LIOVE WITH THE "SMART CAR" WE AGAIN WEREIN ITALY AND GREECE THIS YEAR, & I NOTED THEY HAVE A FOUR DOOR SEDAN. I FELL IN LOVE WITH IT MORE, AND I HAVE BEEN TRYING TO GET ONE SOMEWHERE HERE IN THE STATES. CAN YOU TELL ME WHERE I CAN BUY ONE AND THE APPROXIMATE COST. I WAS TOLD I CAN GO TO CALIFORNIA OR ATLANTA GEORGA AND GET ONE, BUT THE DEALERS WERE UNKNOWN. CAN I LOCATE ONE HERE IN ARIZONA???

I've been driving a smart fortwo cdi pulse cabriolet here on Vancouver Island for a year and a half now - there are over 600 on the road on this island of 700,000 people already.

They are sold and serviced by Mercedes-Benz Canada, which has imported well over 8500 smarts to Canada in 20 months.

I love it, and have to disagree with my Dutch colleague above who suggests that they vibrate and are unstable on the highway. I just got back from a 2500 km trip through British Columbia and the car was super-smooth at 110+ km/h on our highways. It is no more affected by wind than a minivan or SUV. The first-generation cars (to 2001) had a different front suspenstion and spoiler, which made them more susceptible to wind.

My overall average fuel consumption with this common-rail Diesel car since the day I got it is 3.8 L/100 km (75 IMP MPG, 62 US MPG), and when the top is down, there is nothing better. that is over nearly 40,000 km (26,000 miles) of daily driving, in mixed conditions.

A fellow owner in Canada just did an economy rin in Saskatchewan Canada and returned 126 MPG imperial (105 MPG US) on a test at a steady 83 km/h. Last year he topped 94 US MPG a few times, in the same area.

The next generation car will (99% sure) be sold in the USA starting in 2007, through an independent dealer network, not ZAP.

Eric:

I bought a Smart ForTwo from a dealer near Pittsburgh for a lot less than some of the West Coast dealers were charging. I wouldn't blame ZAP completely for the markup in price. I paid $25,000 USD for a car selling for $15,000 in Germany. It would be reasonable to expect to pay an additional $5,000 to ship the car to the US and make the EPA and NHTSA modifications required. The result is a $5,000 premium but I don't have a problem paying this to ZAP since they did the work to get these cars approved and are taking the risk that these cars may not sell. Personally, I love this car and the reactions from people who see the car are priceless.

The Smart Cars are already available in the US from ZAP www.zapworld.com ZP (NYSE). A California based company who is also planning on brining a Brazilian made car to the US, the Obvio! 828, that is a hybrid that can run on any combination of ethanol and gas. Zap is also the only car company who is selling a Chinese manufactured car in the US the 100% electric Xebra city car.

Mike:

I´m driving a Smart fortwo convertible here in germany and it´s great. This thing fits even when you are above 2 metres (6 1/2 feet) tall. I´m driving a cdi, this means 70 miles a gal..

Buy one, it´s cheap, fast and good looking.

I am not affiliated with Zap but do have converted cars available for sale here in the USA. Unfortunately, because of the hoops we have to jump through they are still quite expensive: $29,500 but we can ship them out immediately. Call me at Deer Creek Promotions: 314-821-9800

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