SMART BY NAME, SMART BY NATURE. The production version of the Smart Diesel is greener than Kermit the Frog.So is Danny Cobbs a fan,or will he just be a Statler or a Waldorf?
A year or two ago, mention the words “carbon footprint”, and most people would have thought of something like a trail left by someone who had just walked through a pile of soot. Now, it’s the main topic of conversation at suburban dinner parties. It also seems children are being taught to recycle their pencils, while old age pensioners are being asked to refrain from breaking wind to save the ozone layer. Everyone is doing their bit for the environment. Those with political voices are never shy to jump on the windpowered bandwagon, and in a desperate attempt to win the public’s vote, are ditching their big gasguzzling plutocrat barges for greener modes of transport. Heck, even Al Gore recently got in on the act by gathering together a motley crowd of the world’s glitterati to do their bit to highlight the impending plight of our planet.
The finger of blame has to be pointed somewhere for the pollutants. After all, a scapegoat is a great animal to kick around when we don’t want to feel guilty about our own mistakes. Emerging markets and the developed world always get a good prodding. Industry gets a nudge to the ribs (and a Chinese burn for those who are not particularly eco-friendly). But when it comes to really sticking the boot in, the much-maligned car industry can always expect a swift knee to the groin. What few people realise, though, is that car makers started cleaning up their act years ago. They saw the impact the combustion engine was having on the environment long before David Cameron thought about getting on his bike. Smart, the company that first brought us the micro city car, was one of the first to sell a vehicle on the attributes of size and economy, rather than on performance and handling. After disastrously dipping its toe into the small family hatchback segment (with the ForFour), and not faring too well with the critically-acclaimed sports coupé Roadster, Smart is reverting back to doing what it does best, and is putting its best efforts into the roller-boot-size ForTwo.
At the beginning of this year, Smart unveiled a slightly bigger new model. Apart from growing marginally in all directions, not much has changed visually. Except, that is, when you look at the engine line-up. Before, Smart only ever offered a petrol engine with different power outputs – now a diesel is included in the range. But this isn’t any old pot-burner: it turns the funky Smart into the most frugal and cleanest car on the market. A few issues ago we reviewed the pre-production version of the car we review today and it has improved… This tiny 799cc, 45 bhp, three-cylinder CDi engine is the perfectmatch for the ForTwo, and for the planet. Emitting just 90 grammes of CO2 per kilometre, means it is cleaner than the ecowarrior’s preferred chariot, the Toyota Prius. Not only will it go about its business in a way that would have Kim and Aggie squirming with delight, it’ll do 85.6 miles on one gallon of the blackhandled liquid. The diesel does add extra weight, as compared with the petrol version, but it really isn’t that noticeable. The semi-auto gearbox has been livened-up, yet there is still a slight lag as it decides to change up the cogs.
You do learn to forgive it, though, and adapt your driving technique to accommodate the transmission’s inadequacies. The rest of the car remains virtually unchanged. Inside, there’s the funky interior to keep with Smart’s hip-nhappening image. A few more cubbyholes and stowage compartments have been added, and, just like the previous model, all the panels are easily interchangeable. The most surprising thing is the amount of interior space there is now. There was a reasonable amount of space in the last model, yet this one seems so much bigger inside. Bit of a Tardis, really! It is still strictly a twoseater, but the cabin opens up to seat passenger and driver in a relaxing, roomy, and airy setting. There’s even space behind the two, body-hugging seats for a week’s groceries. But there is a problem I can see with the Smart diesel – there are no current plans to make it in a right-hand drive version. That’s not to say it won’t ever happen, and demand in Europe is proving that the diesel option is more popular… Smart UK is muttering about bringing in a few hundred to “test the water” by the end of this year. When and if this happens, these are expected to sell for an estimated £9,000.
Like so many of us, I have kids. I would hate to see them, or their children, or their children’s children suffer because we were too short-sighted to see the bigger picture. I’m not going to stop attending car launches because I’ve suddenly sprung a greener side, but what I will do is advocate the benefits of certain cars above others when they can offer a friendlier environment for us to live in. That’s why I haven’t started waxing lyrical about the Smart’s ride or handling, because in this instance it really doesn’tmatter – although there’s not much wrong with it. I watched Duran Duran play Live Earth, and itmade me think, just a little. If those old geezers are doing their bit, perhaps I should do mine.
On sale: (probably) from Dec 2007 // Price from: £9,000 (estimated).
- Price: £9,000 (est>Engine: 799cc 3-cyl valves CDi
- Max Power: 45bhp at 3,800 rpm
- Max Torque: 81 lb ft at 2,000-2,500 rpm
- Combined Consumption: 85.6mpg
- CO2 Emissions (taxband): 90g/km (A)
- 0-62mph: 19.8secs
- Max speed: 84mph
Impressive, planet-saving 85.6 mpg, low CO2 emissions, the original city car and breeze to park! Cheap to run
Only two seats, currently only left-hand drive, not that cheap. A car for buzzing around town rather than an all-rounder