We hate looking for parking, too.
You dread it, right? That extra slog you go through when you get home to your perfect industrial studio/brownstone/loft/4th floor walk up: finding a parking spot.
The folks at Mercedes Benz feel your pain. 18 years ago they created a co-venture with Swiss watch maker Swatch to start a new car brand. The result was the Smart Car: Smart stands for Swatch Mercedes Art, the ‘art’ being the gazillion ways buyers can customize the car’s exterior.
But Mercedes-Benz saw Smart Car as more than just an expression of personal creativity; it offered a transportation solution perfect for our growing urban populations. The cars are ideal for one or two people, offer flexible cargo/luggage/grocery space and because of their size, are easy to park. They are also super affordable, with pricing starting at about $15,000 and lease deals at just over $100 a month (plus think of all the cash you’ll save being able to park on the street).
Making its mark on Smart Car (and renaming it Smart fortwo), Mercedes-Benz has consistently upgraded the materials, features and manufacturing, focusing on how customers use the car.
Smart Car is small, but don’t worry, it’s super safe
Probably the biggest barrier for buyers is the idea that a car this small can’t be safe. Think again. Smart’s super reinforced steel frame can hold the weight of a truck four times its weight and it passes crash tests with flying colors. In fact, Smart’s engineers take safety testing way beyond government regulations, measuring it by the same standards of all Mercedes Benz models.
And yes it’s small, but it doesn’t feel like it
The Smart fortwo reminds me of a Chihuahua that isn’t afraid to run with Great Danes: It doesn’t get that it’s smaller than the other dogs and has no problem keeping up. Driving Smart fortwo felt like this, capable, assertive when it needed to be, confident on city streets or the highway. You sort of forget that you’re smaller than everything else on the road.
Until you try to park, which was a high-five, fist-bump experience. We were able to park in those tiny gaps between larger cars on the street.
But where do I put my stuff? (This is pretty cool)
This was the biggest surprise in this little cutie: where to put my purse. And thankfully it was NOT under the feet of my passenger. The rear cargo space of Smart fortwo is reachable from the rear gate or the front seat. A curtain behind the seats attaches to the floor with a strip of Velcro and keeps things in the back from sliding forward. I loved this: I put my handbag there and it was neatly out of the way yet easy to reach when I needed it.
I also loved all the nice little storage nooks including a shelf over the glove box and a tray that pulls out from under the center console.
Goodbye Brooklyn, Hello Saint Tropez
This is the magic of a convertible: Pop the top and a sunny day becomes a mini vacation. Suddenly you feel a bit more chic, people smile at you, your city charms you just a little more. Of course Smart fortwo needed a convertible version! The edition we test drove, which is the latest redesign of the Smart fortwo Cabrio (prices starting at $19,000; the model we drove was about $23,000), is Smart’s best offering yet with an improved interior and a clever convertible top that doesn’t take any space away from the limited cargo space.
It was fun and refreshing to spend the day tooling around Brooklyn in the cabrio. If only I could put it in my carry on and take it with me to Saint Tropez.
Disclosure: I was Smart fortwo’s guest for this drive event; accommodations were provided but opinions are all my own.