fortwo:

The smart fortwo: coming to America

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See the new smart fortwo on the road and you’ll probably love it or hate it as it definitely stands out from the crowd. Drive it and you’ll find things that you love and things that you could definitely like more. But ultimately, the launch of the smart fortwo in the U.S. in January 2008 will excite the image-conscious, environmentally-focused, and parking space-constrained consumer.
The shortest and most compact automobile currently in production is scheduled to enter the largest automotive market in the world next year. Who is smart? smart is a member of Mercedes-Benz cars and the result of a 1994 joint venture between Nicolas Hayek, the inventor of Swatch watches and Mercedes-Benz.. Smart is engineered and manufactured in Europe.
Defying the two-seater image
A compact car that is currently only available as a two-seat vehicle (get it – for two), the fortwo doesn’t feel like you’re driving a two-seater. The vehicle only measures 106 inches in length, roughly 9 feet, yet the spacious cabin provides enough leg and head room for those taller than average. The openness of the cabin and forward placement of the instrument panel eliminate the cramped and constrained feelings of other compact cars, however, the reach to the center stack controls suffers, requiring most drivers to lean forward uncomfortably to adjust the air conditioning, change the radio station, etc. The cargo space, located directly behind the front seats, is easily accessible by the driver, combating the lack of a center console, and provides enough openness behind the driver to increase the level of comfort with the small amount of space that exists between you and the traffic behind you. The passenger seat folds flat for extra space for large items. Elbow and shoulder room is limited, but the smart engineers thought of that too, offsetting the passenger seat behind the driver seat by 5 inches and avoiding shoulder-to-shoulder positioning. If you’re comfortable with your passenger, you won’t mind grabbing his knee every now and then when you overreach for the shift knob. If not, it may take a while to get used to the closeness of knob, both to you and the seat next to you.
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Traditional storage areas like map pockets in the door and a lockable glove box exist, as do cubbies to the left and right of the steering wheel that easily hold a cell phone, sunglasses, and other small items that you may typically store in a center or overhead console. A slanted floor and a forward lip help to keep the items from sliding out when accelerating and cornering. Two cup holders located on the floor under the instrument panel are sufficient for their purpose, but difficult to reach.
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First Look: 2008 smart fortwo

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We brought you the news back in June (click here) that there is a tiny city car making its way to the U.S. market. In early 2008 U.S. buyers will finally be able to opt for this small and economical package. AutoPacific and VehicleVoice have some of the first pictures of the model, and here they are. Though we won’t get the car until early 2008, European buyers can pick one up beginning in April 2007. At the smart USA website, you can keep current on the events smart has hosted to familiarize us with the car or sign up for monthly newsletters about the car.

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How small is small?
The new smart is only 106.1 inches long, with a wheelbase of 73.5 inches. It is 61.4 inches wide, and a relatively tall package at 60.7 inches. Just to put this in perspective, smart is nearly 64 inches shorter than Chevrolet’s smallest offering, the Aveo. The 2008MY MINI is nearly 40 inches longer, the Mazda MX-5 about 51 inches longer, and even the Toyota Yaris hatchback is almost 44 inches longer. The smart could find itself an instant favorite among some circles. It has a unique personality, with its small size it fits anywhere, it is light, and it offers very economical powertrains. Wanna feel like you’re helping the world and create your own parking spot on Rodeo Drive? Buy a smart.
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smart Sales Plan Revived

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Persistance Pays Off
Though once abandoning a plan for U.S. sales, automaker smart didn’t give up on us like they have on the use of capital letters and two of their European entries (smart roadster and forfour dropped by 2007MY). An exclusive agreement with the United Auto Group dealers, headed by Roger Penske, has been forged to bring over the next fortwo in early 2008. Reports are that optimistic DaimlerChrysler, parent of smart, would like to see sales in the States at about 20,000 units.
Having never really given up on the States, smart has shown off its fortwo at several occasions, including an exhibit at New York’s Museum of Modern Art and as a lead vehicle for the New York City Marathon and a sponsor of the Boston Marathon. Groundwork for creating interest and enthusiasm for this tiny city car is well laid, and rising fuel costs only add to the hype.

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The current fortwo was never meant to come to the States, due to problems meeting U.S. emissions regulations, though importer and electric car company ZAP has sold about 200 Americanized fortwos through May 2006, and sales in Canada reached 4000 units with months-long waitlists.
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