Created by Daimler-Benz and Swatch, the first Smart Car entered the European market in 1998. However, it did not reach the United States until 2006, with the release of the new and improved Fortwo, a two-seater with increased size, safety and transmission. While the Smart Car will not appeal to every driver, certain benefits make it a worthy consideration for environmentally conscious consumers who put fuel efficiency at the top of their requirements.
Offering 33 miles per gallon in city driving and up to 40 on the highway, the Smart Car rarely needs a fill-up. CNN Money states that "no other car at these prices is nearly as easy on gas." Although the Smart Car does not feature hybrid technology, the 1.0 litre, 3-cylinder engine has only 70 horsepower, which allows the car to travel just over 80 miles per hour without using much gas.
With prices starting as low as £9,093 as of late 2010, the Smart Car is an appealing option for those on a tight budget. This stacks up nicely against other fuel-efficient cars such as the Honda Civic Hybrid (starting at £15,567), Toyota Prius ($22,800) and Ford Fusion Hybrid ($28,100). All prices are for 2011 models.
The small frame of the Smart Car causes some drivers concerns over safety issues. According to Greencar, however, the Smart Car was tested by The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and came back with the best possible ratings for front and side crash protection. The rear rated nearly as high, receiving a grade of "Acceptable," which is the second-highest score.
Because of the Smart Car's diminutive size (just over 106 inches long), manoeuvring it proves a simple task for drivers, even in environments where space is limited. Designed for inner-city driving, the Smart Car easily navigates tight spaces, makes challenging turns easy and allows for stress-free parking with room to spare even in the most crowded lots. Furthermore, the car operates with automated manual transmission to achieve all the benefits of a stick shift without the hassle of a clutch.
The Smart Car is nearly 100 per cent recyclable and emits very little exhaust, earning it an Ultra Low Emission Vehicle classification. These features ensure the Smart Car does its part to create a greener environment.