Sunday
October 26, 2014

The best option for the city

Monday, June 2, 2014

Smart Fortwo: when size matters

By Carlos A. Pefaur
Herald Staff
The Smart is the first truly urban city car to arrive in Argentina, and it is impossible for it to pass unnoticed. Alluring and irreverent, this is an eye catcher that is very fun to drive.

Today’s cities require special mobility. The density of traffic and the consequent environmental pollution are very tricky issues. The Smart Fortwo has been developed based on these requirements.

Designed for vital urban living, it shows off its size with innovations rather than inches. And it shows, thanks to its unique overall concept, that driving should not be a hassle in the city.

Everything you need is inside, and nothing is unnecessary in the Fortwo coupé passion I tried out. This is a simple, but sophisticated car. Extensive safety equipment and a host of smart solutions are available even with the basic version. The Smart Fortwo is unmatched when looking at urban mobility.

The Smart Fortwo has arrived in our country and is different from all the cars we know. That’s why it deserves an open mind: we must leave all prejudice and free the mind from clichés.

Seductive, irreverent, highly practical, fashionable and subject to all glances and remarks (extensively for those who already have no self-esteem issues), the car is also very fun to drive: it is the first city car to be seriously marketed in Argentina.

This Smart is 269 cm long, 156 cm wide (excluding mirrors, 175 cm counting them), 156 cm tall, has a wheelbase distance of 187 cm, and weighs 770 kg.

Its measurements are great for easy parking in unimaginable places. And its turn radius of less than nine metres is more than enough to allow for manoeuvring in narrow streets or even outside a parking complex.

Its exterior is attractive due to its finishing and design. It musn’t be easy to conceive a glamorous car that is personal and friendly with dimensions of such limitations, but the Smart Fortwo succeeds in this regard. The engine has been placed in the rear, with a very short trunk and the door is virtually lateral and two-coloured.

A real four-wheeled toy

The most important part of the exterior for the Smart is not visible: it is called Tridion cell, a shell of high strength steel, which protects the occupants in a crash.

Several body panels are plastic, such as those on the doors and bonnet. They will not rust or be prone to dents.

Access to the interior is simple. The inside is very comfortable for two people, which is the number of passengers for which the Smart was designed. The dimensions exceed many B-segment cars’ and I did not register any feelings of confinement. The trunk offers an amazing 220-litre capacity.

The seats are comfortable and offer good support. The driving position is high and the floor of the vehicle is high off the ground for security. That’s right: the steering wheel is fixed and the seat has no height adjustment.

It has a few commands and keys. I took note of state-of-the-art technology, including a big retractable touch screen, Bluetooth and an SD card slot, although there is no remote command. There are only a few commands and keys to make the system work: the satellites on the wheel take care of the rest, and air conditioning is controlled almost from the same vents.

The dashboard is semicircular and has few lights. The ignition switch is located behind the shift lever while the counter and clock are located on the central board, outside the first natural viewing plane.

A detail: there is no spare tire, but there is a flat kit, which is not too unreasonable considering that this is a vehicle with which you are unlikely to be far from the big city.

The car features full safety equipment (ABS, BAS for emergency braking, ESP and front and side airbags).

The 84 HP engine displace fuel with only three cylinders, with an enviable power-to-weight ratio that allows us to reach a top speed of 145 kmph in just 11 seconds. Consumption in the city clocked in at 7.5 litres per 100km travelled. The engine is accompanied by a five-speed automated gearbox, while you can use the paddles on the steering wheel as well. The tank capacity is 33 litres.

The front suspension is a McPherson type (lower triangle) and rests in the rear, with the full weight of the engine and transmission resting on a torsion bar that is assisted by transverse arms. The comfort level feels a little rough, but nothing too uncomfortable. The tires are 155/60/15 front and 175/55/15 rear and marked by a low profile. Batches on the road are felt quite strongly so you have to be very attentive to speed bumps, ditches, etc.

With the Smart Fortwo, you have to imagine a car that combines the versatility of a motorcycle with the possibility of finding yourself comfortably seated without soot in your face, or getting wet in the rain. To this you can add the ability to park in any corner.

It has a two-year warranty with unlimited mileage.

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