Short Car Day: Smart Fortwo, But Smart For You?

OK, if today is Short Car Day, I had to go out and take pictures of a Smart car, the shortest car you can buy in the US today, and probably the shortest car ever sold here in any volume. This is a new 2012 Smart Fortwo, 106″ long on a 73.5″ wheelbase. Sadly no first-gen ’98-’07 Smarts are in walking distance today. So here you go Curbside Cognescenti, have at it. More pictures and a video follow…..

Here is the first-generation Smart car, only 98 inches long. That’s less than the wheelbase of a 1950 Rambler!

It certainly has a cheerful face. Some would say the right face for a clown car.

Really fun dashboard. I love the buttons on that full-width kneebar, and those gauge pods on top knock me out.

You’d think a car this small would be great on gas. It does turn out to be the best gasoline-powered non-hybrid: US EPA says 34 city / 38 highway, premium fuel. But there are plenty of much bigger cars (Fiesta Sonic Fit Yaris Versa) that come darned close.

Somebody drove one into a concrete barrier at 70 mph (remotely of course) and Daimler’s structural engineering is most impressive. The interior safety pod remains secure, and the doors even open and close. But what’s the peak deceleration with so little crush space? I think you’d need to use a squeegee on the occupants.

Obviously if you must drive in a European city, the Smart car is very handy. I’ve seen one pull a u-turn in a two lane city street in Portland.

And it certainly does make a point in North American traffic.

But really, the great majority of our driving is on freeways, highways and wide suburban roads. I wonder how many American drivers even remember how to parallel park. What’s the point?