A smart idea after all
Not a smart idea! This is the famous jibe levelled at the smart car when it was launched.
Although obscured by the hundreds of shiny new models out there, the smart brand is quietly staying out of the limelight, ringing up sales here and there.
You know what? I think the smart car, more especially the smart Fortwo, is among the smartest motoring ideas to materialise in the last 20 years.
Space is at an absolute premium these days. There's not much room on our roads and the tiny dimensions of the Fortwo have been proven to be a godsend in claustrophobic parking areas. You can park it where all your instincts tell you it's impossible and you can sneak it onto most footpaths. Incredibly, you can park two of them between the lines of one single parking space, which will save on parking fees for you and a friend.
The smart, although tiny, is among the safest vehicles on the road. Built around the idea of a protective cell, the technology of its crumple zones is not easily matched, and should provide peace of mind to the driver.
Uniquely designed with the emphasis on luxury and style, the interior of the Fortwo is not in line with mainstream cabin design language.
It's a bit quirky, but pleasing to the eye and touch. You just have to think out of the box to appreciate the odd levers, buttons and switchgear.
It's a strictly-for-two car. If you want more room, look at the discontinued Forfour model.
The range of Fortwo derivatives is not wide but includes a regular coupé, hard top and a ragtop convertible model.
Specification is on par with most of today's offerings. The smart has airbags, ABS, an entertainment system, air-conditioning and electric windows. You'd really be nit-picking if you were to decide that it's sparsely equipped.
I'd opt for the cabrio; it's that much cooler. The engine in a smart is a three-cylinder 700cc unit. This might sound very small by South African standards, and rightly so, but the advantages are innumerable, the first being the incredibly low fuel consumption you will get.
The other plus is fewer mechanical components - which means even less pain for your pocket.
So there you have it, a car that is designed to limit financial ruin. Although not generally thought of as such a smart Fortwo would be the ideal wheels for a student.
It's cute enough, safe and, since it does not have serious legs, savings on traffic fines and fuel will ensure a good base for thrifty living from an early age.
A smart costs between R100000 and R150000.