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Smart Fortwo



  • gregg_vwgregg_vw Posts: 2,437
    Oh, good gravy, who here is saying that driving a smart puts you on a level playing field? Do we not know this is a small car? Is that what we are not seeing here?

    Anyway, go ahead, assert what you want. You are after all the host. :P But do you really know anything about data? When people are polled (with a small margin of error), do you really think those pollsters talk to (or need to talk to) more than 30,000 people just to get a representative sample of Americans?? Regardless of what you think, they don't. Do a little research on how research is done and then tell me 30,000 is a VERY small sample.

    And yes, one more fatality would change the outcome, JUST LIKE ONE LESS WOULD. Unless you can point out how you are a better and more knowledgeable statistician than most (can you?), I don't see how you can say smart-driven miles have no statistical significance. You have thrown the smart stats sample into a much larger population, and then declared the smart sample too small based on being swamped by that vehicle universe. So I guess we are to assume that the average outcome for smart drivers is but a fluke. Or luck whatever that is. A run of heads when a tail was expected.

    And now for an anecdote which doesn't prove anything (but since others here also seem comfortable speculating all sorts of things based on a few variables...): In 1977, I was rear ended by a full size Mercedes while driving my 1976 VW Rabbit. I was pushed halfway through the intersection, but in the end, there were a couple of paint scratches on the Rabbit rear bumper (the car sort of skipped forward), but the Mercedes required a tow truck. What does it prove? Not much, other than outcomes can sometimes be different than one imagines.

    I think it is sad that this thread always degenerates into "we have to warn these poor SOBS who don't seem to realize they will be driving a really small car amongst many larger vehicles." Sort of reminds me of the intense battles to keep people from legally buying unpasteurized milk. We let people smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol and cover our bases by putting on warning labels about potential health consequences. Would you all go away if smart would agree to put a warning label on their cars stating that, since the car is small, passengers may be at greater risk of injury if an accident occurs? :surprise:
  • gregg_vwgregg_vw Posts: 2,437
    I read your post. Your graciousness is noted. What I was really pointing out is what you are fleshing out a bit more now: most accidents don't amount to a hill of beans, That was not the implication of your argument. Yes, there will be that rare circumstance where you can be killed by a freak happening, and yes, that event could be included in a whole slew of events that might be construed as an accident---but that freak accident really has little in common with what usually occurs every 5-7 years, such as someone keying your car, or you backing into something (or the ditch).
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    But the problem with tests is that crashing a car into itself is unreasonable when there are so few cars in the same weight class as the Smart. The Mercedes vs Smart crash is more common, and it only gets worse from there as mass increases.

    Why I linked to the IIHS site for insurance claims is that deaths isn't the only factor. Being really messed up and injured badly is important as well. But we won't see the data until this fall, unfortunately. I'ts not going to look pretty because no matter how you engineer a vehicle, 1600lbs of anything isn't going to withstand a 5-6000lb solid framed vehicle hitting it.

    Yesterday I took my son to the doctor and counted vehicles. The row I was in looked like this:
    SUV, large car., car, minivan, SUV, minivan, SUV SUV SUV, minivan, SUV, large car, car, station wagon, SUV SUV SUV.

    Seriously. Finding anything under 3000 lbs - I don't think there was one vehicle in the entire parking lot - over 100 cars - that weighed less than that. And that's unfortunately the norm lately. Big, heavy, and acres of steel for crumple cones.

    I really do wish that the Smart was a bit bigger and better. 1ft longer, a few inches wider, and reinforced more heavily wouldn't destroy it's fun or image. And neither would things like a real manual transmission or a TDI engine. They didn't destroy the Mini with the re-do - but it's a lot safer and more practical than the original.

    Maybe come in at 2000lbs and get 50-60mpg highway. That would be more reasonable, IMO. With a manual transmission, I might even buy one myself. :)
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 13,458
    When people are polled (with a small margin of error), do you really think those pollsters talk to (or need to talk to) more than 30,000 people just to get a representative sample of Americans?

    The problem with the statistics is not the 30K Smart cars but the low number of deaths (3 in this case). With that a swing of just 1 changes the figures greatly. Most statisticians acknowledge that.

    In 1977, I was rear ended by a full size Mercedes while driving my 1976 VW Rabbit......

    Many people don't realize that mass isn't the only equation to what happens in an accident. Two winters ago there was an issue with an Accord hitting a rather large state owned snowplow on the tollway. The Accord actually knocked the snowplow into the ditch and the only one that went to the hospital was the snowplow driver.

    While not the norm but it does show that larger is not always safer.

    2008 Sebring Ragtop, 2011 Hyundai Sonata.

  • gregg_vwgregg_vw Posts: 2,437
    Pletko, what you are apparently asking for is the Scion iQ (approx 1 foot longer than the smart and wider as well) which should be on sale here next year.

    I wish they hadn't lengthened the smart in the 2008 redesign. As it is now, it is a couple inches too long to park perpendicular to the curb. ;)
  • prigglypriggly Posts: 642
    gregg vw, what you are essentially saying is that the smart is just too small.

    A bit longer and a bit wider, it just might meet basic safety requirements. As it stands now, it is doubtful whether it would allow its occupants to survive even a minimal crash.
  • gregg_vwgregg_vw Posts: 2,437
    gregg vw, what you are essentially saying is that the smart is just too small.

    No, I am not saying that. You are saying that. I said I wished it was still the size of the original design. But that isn't going to happen, so don't get scared. Meanwhile, I still think that I'd rather run around in a smart than on any of the mopeds I see everywhere in the city where I work.
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    Actually, it does meet minimal safety requirements. But the tests done in Europe while designing it never factored in an extra thousand pounds for the U.S. average vehicle weight over the European average. A redesign of the bumpers won't fix it.
  • stout7735stout7735 Posts: 20
    Well I guess that is the element of a crime to charge any driver of an average weight American car with Aggravated Assault for crashing into a Smart... ;)
  • gregg_vwgregg_vw Posts: 2,437
    Actually, it does meet minimal safety requirements. But the tests done in Europe while designing it never factored in an extra thousand pounds for the U.S. average vehicle weight over the European average. A redesign of the bumpers won't fix it. And if they did add weight to compensate for fat American vehicles, who would buy it?? A car approx. 100 inches long that weighs 1,000 lbs more than the smart does? Silly. Buy a larger car.

    The smart is about as safe as can be given how tiny it is, and it is safer than one would assume, given its diminutive size. Why make it bigger or heavier? There are TONS of choices out there to fill that bill already. But if you want a city car that is as small as possible, then a Versa or Fiesta is not a real substitute. Why is that so hard to fathom? And, YES, I know it is small and light and wouldn't be the greatest thing to be in if one collides head on with something at 60 mph, so please don't start.
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 13,458
    wouldn't be the greatest thing to be in if one collides head on with something at 60 mph, so please don't start.

    Not many things out there that would be great to be in with a head on collision at 60 MPH.

    2008 Sebring Ragtop, 2011 Hyundai Sonata.

  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    What it boils down to is that deaths aside, because it takes a lot more force to die in a crash than get injured and some people manage to survive silly things thanks to modern technology, injuries will be greater, guaranteed, in a vehicle that light.

    Looking at a Smart versus a typical car, I see three areas where it can be reinforced and create a similar vehicle.

    1: Width. The car is without a doubt the thinnest thing on the road. They need to redesign it to be about a foot wider. This will add mass and safety as well as stability. It will also offer much better storage and comfort. The entire reason it was that thin was to park sideways legally in Europe, but the new one isn't legal for that and so it needs to be redesigned for standard parking dimmensions.

    2: The rear needs to be expanded to a proper trunk or hatchback area. It needs to be able to fit a 36*36 inch box in the rear with the seats forward as much as reasonably possible and the back closed. Maybe 10-12 inches longer. That would be easy to hide.

    3: Height can also be addressed(IMO, it need to be 2-3 inches higher seating position and door line to better protect versus side impacts) if the width and length are stretched a tiny bit. We're talking about a few hundred pounds from all three but almost twice the strength over the current design if it's all put into safety.

    Both #2 and #3 can be done without anyone noticing if the ratios are kept exactly the same when they make it wider. Basically it would be similar in size to the IQ or the Fiat 500.

    note - the Fiat 500 is the Smart's real problem. It's all around a better choice in this segment. When it comes out this fall, it's going to be the next big hit. Mercedes needs to get busy with a redesign asap.
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 13,458
    But wouldn't making it longer and wider defeat the advantages that the Smart has?

    Also I wouldn't worry to much about the Fiat, I know no one who had a fiat in the past that would drive one again. Well maybe they would if it came with spare parts and a mechanic.

    2008 Sebring Ragtop, 2011 Hyundai Sonata.

  • jack137jack137 Posts: 19
    Quote: Not trying to "prove" anything one way or the other here, but 30,000 smarts compared to 250 million plus vehicles seems too small a sample to say anything with certainty. The rate for the smart seems to be on the order of the overall rate, but I'd wager if we were talking about 10 times as many smarts on US roads, we'd be looking at significantly more than 30 fatalities because, like it or not, safety IS related to size. unquote

    You had me nodding my head, saying "that's reasonable" through most of your post - until you came to the very end, where you slip in the zinger. This is a despicable tactic pointed out by the ANCIENT GREEKS in their philosophy classes, where someone would try to claim that "C" was true just because "A" and "B" were true.

    If safety IS related to size, please explain why so many people die when a huge 747 airliner hits the ground? In fact, isn't it true more often than not, that most of the passengers in an airliner crash die? Not that I'm trying to prove anything here, but shouldn't airline fatalities be judged by the number of fatal "landings" than by passenger miles flown?
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    edited May 2010
    But wouldn't making it longer and wider defeat the advantages that the Smart has?

    Since the car was designed around sideways parking but it's no longer legal to do so in the U.S. with ANY Smart, then it has no advantages to defeat any more. Only things that hinder it at this point.

    10-12 inches - pull out a tape measure. That's not a lot longer or wider. 1-2 inches taller won't be a factor, either, though it all will enable the windshield to be less steeply angled. This can mean another 2-4 inches of crumple space in the front with a careful redesign and still look like just a minor face-lift/refresh from the side. Unless you put both side-by-side, it would look nearly identical(the 1st vs 2nd gen New Mini is a perfect example - you don't notice the few inches at all unless they are literally next to each other)

    So basically 4 inches in the front, 8 in the back(basically stretch the rear to equal the back of the rear wheel well arches - nothing major), 10-12 inches wider, same profile, and 1 inch larger tires to compensate for the visual effect. With a better engine/transmission combo, it could still get 45MPG and have better handling and interior.
  • gregg_vwgregg_vw Posts: 2,437
    Pletko, please. You are trying to design a subcompact and there are already zillions of them out there. No shortage at all. Given the changes you suggest, you would end up with something that is not a smart. Like the FourFour was (besides being a miserably failure).

    Let those overly concerned about getting mangled in a crash buy something other than a smart. But let there be a choice. There is nothing else like the smart available here, and you want to take away the choice because it is not as safe as a larger car would be.

    The smart is a niche vehicle. If you take away its essence, it really has no reason to be. The Fiat 500, the Audi A1, the little Mercedes that is coming are all welcome choices that I will be glad to see us finally have here. I'd also like to see the the Tata Nano offered here, and yes, I'd like to see the smart continue. If you make the car small enough, it can be an alternative for those of us who feel a bit too vulnerable on a scooter or small cycle. Like a scooter, a tiny and narrow car can be parked more places. There will never be a big market for it, but let it be a choice please.
  • jack137jack137 Posts: 19
    Priggly, do you own/drive a Smart car? If not, please stop looking out for those of us who do. While it gives me the warm fuzzies to realize that "someone out there" cares enough to save me from myself, I'm not sure if your approach of mixing a few "statistics" with personal opinion, which you invariably deliver at the end of each new message, is the best way to convince people that you're right.

    I would think that the failure of Prohibition to save people from the far worse problems of alcoholism would at least serve as a warning to people with your prediliction for pontificating on the safety of cars they don't happen to like. :confuse:
  • gregg_vwgregg_vw Posts: 2,437
    You just don't get it. Adding length and width renders the car something else. It has already been lengthened more than half a foot in the redesign for the US.

    Not being able to park bumper to curb in some places (not ALL places as you contend) does not negate the advantage of diminutive size. It has an advantage in urban driveways and parking areas that must be used where on street parking is not allowed. Many residential streets have parking that is restricted by time periods or permit requirements, not how much space you do or don't take up (no painted spaces). I can park with just a few inches on either end, without scraping either the front or back car, but that space can be too small for a car larger than the smart. There are houses in the university area where I stay in the city which have alleys that are too narrow for most cars to negotiate without scraping. And a smart will fit in a utility shed that no other car would.

    I had considered buying an urban house that had no front yard other than a thin flower bed between it and the sidewalk of the cul de sac it was on. The "driveway" was only about 12 feet long, and though there was space for a utility shed, the lot would not have held a normal size single car garage. Having a smart plus public transport would have worked fine. Size does matter.
  • jack137jack137 Posts: 19
    On a separate note, a picture has been circulating on the internet that purports to show a Smart car squished down to virtually nothing between two 18-wheelers. The only part of the car that is clearly identifiable is one of the wheels.

    Fortunately, the moron posting that picture failed to realize that Smart cars don't have FIVE lug-nuts on their wheels. This points out the truly vicious nature of some Smart-bashers.

    Back in the '30's, the FBI decided that the best way to catch mobsters was to "follow the money" and put the perps in jail for tax evasion.Using that concept, let's try to find out who would benefit the most by bashing Smart cars and then put them out of business by boycotting them. :mad:
  • jack137jack137 Posts: 19
    Thanks, Gregg-VW. You made a lot of good points, and I'd like to add a few as well.
    For example, some parking spaces are made too narrow for "normal-width" cars to park and get the doors open enough to exit or enter their cars. Inconsiderate drivers can also park off-center in a slot, making it impossible to park anything bigger than the Smart in the only parking slot left open.

    Finally, I bought a Smart so I could park two motorcycles in the same garage slot with my car. There's almost enough room to park a small third bike in there too, and my bikes are both 500+ pound 1200cc machines. The Smart also makes a perfect TOAD (towed vehicle) for small RV's, like the van-based class "B"'s.
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 13,458
    Since the car was designed around sideways parking but it's no longer legal to do so in the U.S. with ANY Smart, then it has no advantages to defeat any more.

    I beg to differ with you. I have had the opportunity to drive the Smart in cramped crowded urban streets here in Chicago. There was more than one time I was able to navigate through an area that I know for a fact I wouldn't be able to in any other car available in the US.

    Hate to tell you this but in those situations a couple if inches often is the difference between getting through and being stuck.

    2008 Sebring Ragtop, 2011 Hyundai Sonata.

  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    This may be true, but even after a small "redesign" like I posted, it would still be the smallest thing on the road by a significant margin. As it is, though, it's just too tiny to deal with major traffic like I get here in Los Angeles. It's horrendously slow and ridiculously tiny compared to the massive SUVs and trucks that are everywhere. I'd not feel safe in it on a major freeway.

    And, remember, this originally was about what car to get for a teenager. You know, the types that WILL get in a crash sooner or later and that are starting to drive.

    The smart money there is to get them a big cheap full-size sedan and let them destroy that instead.
  • prigglypriggly Posts: 642
    No, Jack, I do not own or drive a "Smart" (I have more regard for life and limb than that) but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night!
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 13,458
    It's horrendously slow

    But the reality of the situation traffic in large urban areas are even more horrendously slow. Sometime time how fast traffic takes to get to 40.

    and ridiculously tiny compared to the massive SUVs and trucks that are everywhere

    And that is what makes them so much better in high density urban settings. I have gotten a Smart through areas that an SUV or a truck would have never gotten through.

    2008 Sebring Ragtop, 2011 Hyundai Sonata.

  • beachfish2beachfish2 Richmond VAPosts: 177
    I have seen 2 on rural interstates in Virginia and everytime a tractor-trailer went by them they were blown all over their lane. The trucks were only doing 70 in an area where 75 or 80 is more common. (I remember the same kind of problems when I drove a '65 VW bug and then a '75 Datsun B210. They just weren't up to it.)

    I saw another one on a rural interstate in a 30-35 mph crosswind and it was downright scary to watch the driver fight it and try to maintain the 65 mph speed limit.
  • gregg_vwgregg_vw Posts: 2,437
    This is so absurd. Every situation has its drawbacks. Has anyone here said the thing handles best on rural gusty freeways? The advantage is in urban congestion. If you take it occasionally on rural interstates, you will be fine, but your drive would be more pleasant in a Lacrosse, ok? The smart handles way better (not to mention being much safer) than the VW Beetle ever did, and lots of people braved the roads in those years ago. If you buy a motorcycle, you are almost guaranteed to get wet sometime. So no one should buy one?
  • dstromdstrom Posts: 13
    I'm sorry, but that's just not true. I owned VW bugs for 20 years and they were affected, often dramatically, by big trucks and crosswinds, but my smart is not. I live and drive in rural Virginia and drive mine on the interstates all the time at 70-75 mph. No problem! Most of the time I don't even notice trucks or crosswinds. And when I do notice them it's no worse than every other small car and never even close to as bad as my VWs were.. And I've certainly never had to "fight" to maintain control. I suggest that you may want to drive them yourself before making uninformed observations - :)

    PS: I often find myself drifting up to 80-85 mph so I've installed a cruise control :)
  • redfred1redfred1 Posts: 8
    Rural VA (probably 66/64/85/ or 81 I would guess) is not as windy as the open highways of central TX. I speak as an owner of a Smart and during large gusts of wind and large trucks I have found the car to move around about the same as my Civic and van. I guess I am not sure what you are referring to in terms of cars leaving their lanes unless the drivers panic and over-react (which is not the cars issue). I have never had to "fight" for control but have found that the car handles wonderfully in tight turns, 180's, and 90's (taking a sharp turn into my driveway at speed). Car easily does 90 for long stretches on our straight and flat TX roads and I have never lacked power to merge into traffic. All of this coming from a guy that owned and street raced a 69 RT Charger with a 440M, 68 RR stick with a 440M, and 71 Cuda with a 383. I am not bragging, just explaining that even a muscle car owner can concede that the Smart is a pretty durable and fun car to drive AND gets 40 mpg on the highway.
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 13,458
    I have seen two on rural interstates in Illinois, they didn't seem to have any issues with the wind or trucks.

    2008 Sebring Ragtop, 2011 Hyundai Sonata.

  • kneisl1kneisl1 Posts: 1,694
    Nope not a Gorite. But come back in 20 years and I bet your opinion will have changed.
This discussion has been closed.