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2008 Smart Fortwo

2008 Smart Fortwo Offers American Drivers Smarter Options
by Beth Garcia

Populating European cities and roadways since 1998, the zippy, small Smart car is now finding its way to the American automotive market in 2008 with its U.S. friendly design — Smart Fortwo.

2008 Smart Fortwo SideThe stylish micro-compact car from Smart USA — a member of the Mercedes Car Group from parent company Daimler AG — is an Americanized version of the widely popular Smart car models that have sold more than 770,000 vehicles in more than 35 countries worldwide.

The economic two-seater compact finds its niche as the smallest vehicle available for American drivers, specializing in city driving where parking space is often limited. The Smart Fortwo brings American drivers an opportunity to capitalize on the efficient driving and parking ease European drivers have had at their disposal for years.

Available in three different models — Pure, Passion Coupe and Passion Cabriolet — the 3-cylinder, 1 liter gasoline-powered Smart Fortwo is created for drivers on the go with little or no cargo. At 8.8 feet long and 5.1 feet wide and tall, the Smart Fortwo comfortably surrounds its two passengers in a no-nonsense interior equipped with the basic driver amenities, but stacked with safety and driving features. Though the numbers seem small — only 71 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 68-pound-feet of torque at 4,500 rpm — the Smart Fortwo is more responsive than its appears.

The light, economic car shifts sufficiently with its 5-speed automanual transmission, sliding through gears with the typical manual transmission pause most expect. Drivers use to automatic transmissions may find it difficult at first to smoothly transition through gears. However, once they get a feel for the car, the automanual shifting should smooth out quickly.

2008 Smart Fourtwo quarterThe basic Pure model comes standard with the automanual transmission with manual, automatic modes.

However, an upgrade to the Passion Coupe can allow drivers the option of a sports steering wheel with shift paddles for a more fun drive.

With a maximum speed of 90 mph, the Smart Fortwo can transition from city car to highway driver easily. Drivers not use to smaller framed vehicles may be caught off guard at high speeds with strong side winds, which can make the boxy car seem a bit shaky.

Despite this, the gas sipping Smart Fortwo does provide the kind of gas mileage both city drivers and commuters can appreciate, with an average of 33 mpg city and 40 mpg highway.

As the smallest car on the American market, the Smart Fortwo comes prepared for the safety questions and concerns its sure to meet from SUV-loving American drivers. Built around a Tridion safety cell cage, the Smart car offers a frame constructed in rough steel and covered in a colorful, fun-loving plastic body. The safety cell, with transverse and longitudinal beams, prevents vehicle occupants from crash damage by smartly displacing the force of any impact.

Additionally, the Smart Fortwo is equipped with electronic stability control with Hill Start Assist and anti-lock brakes, traction control, side airbags and thoughtfully placed axles that protect the passenger compartment.

Make no mistake. The Smart Fortwo is not a car for luxury or amenity-spoiled drivers. Though well-equipped with safety features and performance amenities, any extras on the Smart Fortwo come at a price.

2008 Smart Fourtwo InteriorThe Pure model offers nothing more than a fuel efficient, minimalist driving tool starting at $11,590.
However, jump to the Passion Coupe at $13,590 and drivers will see a more sporty look with panorama roof, alloy wheels, air condition with climate control, sports steering wheel, power windows, heated and electric seats and a radio with six-disc CD changer.

The Passion Cabriolet gives drivers a little bit of sunlight for a more seaside friendly look. At $16,590, this model offers an upgraded radio and sound system with an mp3 compatible six-disk CD changer and soft, removable top with heated rear glass windows that is fully automated.

As Smart's first splash into the American driving market, the Smart Fortwo offers urban dwellers an opportunity to cash in on Europe's carefree city driving. However, with its size and features, the Smart Fortwo remains suitable for city lovers, commuters and second-vehicle purchasers. Only time will tell if steadily increasing gas prices and continually crowding cities push American drivers to these more economic vehicle purchases.

2008 Smart Fortwo

Description: Micro compact car
Model Options: Pure, Passion Coupe, Passion Cabriolet
Wheelbase: 73.5 inches
Overall length: 106.1 inches
Engine size: DOHC 12-valve inline-3, aluminum block and head, port fuel injection
Transmissions/speeds: 5-speed manual with automated shifting and clutch
Braking: disc/drum with ABS, EBD
Air bags: side airbags
EPA mileage: 33 mpg city/40 mpg highway
MSRP: Pure - $11,590, Passion Coupe - $13,590, Passion Cabriolet - $16,590

Learn more information on the Smart Fortwo.