First “Smart” Car Arrives in New York

The eight-and-a-half foot long, 1,800 pound smart fortwo has arrived in the US, with the first American owner taking delivery here in New York. As it happens, he’s a friend of the folks at car blog Jalopnik, who took it for a drive. Here’s some of what they had to say.

We do need to change the way we think about the Smart. It is safe. Bookended by crumple zones, a steel roll cage surrounds the occupants.

It feels safe, too. The size defines the driving experience, but not in the way you might expect. Rather than feeling intimidated in traffic, you feel empowered. Gone is the need to take responsibility for an acre of SUV on a crowded road. Present is the freedom to move down that crowded road as you see fit. Congested urban streets and crowded highways stop feeling claustrophobic and start feeling easy.

It’s not Green. The problem is, the Smart isn’t that smart. The 1-liter, 70bhp engine has to work hard, so it only averages about 38mpg. Less if you drive fast.

So the Smart is a more complete, practical car than most people assume it to be – but that’s also its biggest problem. It’ll still get caught in traffic jams. Look at the Smart as a practical car that’s easier to use in an urban environment than anything else, and you’ll be happy. Look at it as fundamentally altering the way Americans think about transportation though, and you’ll be disappointed. 

Photo: Jalopnik