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Smart fortwo gets 33/41 city/highway

Ford Fiesta gets 29/40 city/highway
Smart global sales to drop below 100K for 2010

A few years ago, drivers across America went into panic mode as gasoline prices soared to nearly $4.00/gallon (or higher in some locales) in 2008. During that time, people started ditching their SUVs/pickups and bought more efficient cars.

As gas prices have started to level out below the $3.00/gallon mark, one car company has been especially hard: Smart. Smart, a division of Daimler AG, has seen U.S. sales free fall since hitting a high mark of 25,000 units for all of 2008 reports Automotive News Europe.

For the first seven months of 2010, sales are down 70 percent compared to the year before. Globally, sales are down over 20 percent and sales will dip to below 100,000 unit for all of 2010 compared to 114,000 in 2009.

There a number of possible reasons for the soft sales in the U.S. The Smart is a cramped two-seater with very little room for cargo. While this might have been acceptable to some U.S. customers when it seemed like the sky was limit with rising gas prices, many likely aren't willing to make that sacrifice today.

Another more likely scenario is that there are plenty of larger (yet still compact) vehicles available on the market for the same money or slightly more than the Smart and seat 5 people plus cargo. A standard Smart fortwo will cost you around $13,200 with A/C. Stepping up to the slightly more opulent Smart fortwo "passion" costs about $14,600.

For that price, you get 33 mpg in the city and 41 mpg on the highway in return (while requiring premium unleaded gasoline). For comparison, the $15,000 Honda Fit returns 28/35 while the $13,000 Toyota Yaris returns 29/36 -- both vehicles can seat five.

Another competitor, the $14,000 Ford Fiesta, achieves 29 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway.

With competitors approaching the mileage of the Smart while offering vastly superior passenger/cargo room for roughly the same money, it shouldn't be too shocking that sales are falling.

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smart FTL
By chromal on 8/31/2010 1:01:52 PM , Rating: 4
Why isn't the 2008-2010 smart fortwo doing well? Probably because it's a solution in search of a problem, and a crappy solution at that.

The smart's 0-60mph time is pretty crappy at 13.6s. Its 60-0mph distance is mediocre at 124ft. Its 1/4mi time is 19.1s @ 70mph. Its slalom speed is especially damning at only 59mph, increasing the chances you'll break traction if you need to make any sort of evasive maneuver at speed. It's skid pad results achieved a lateral force of only 0.74g. It gets pushed around like a toy by the slipstream of other vehicles on the freeway.

Finally, the smart requires significantly more expensive premium grade fuel, while managing to average only 3mpg more than my 1998 Honda Civic 5-spd manual hatchback (which happily runs on the cheaper regular grade gasoline, has dramatically better 0-60mph, skidpad, 1/4mi time, and of course passenger/cargo capacity numbers. And people won't mock you for driving one, at least not nearly as badly).

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