Below: The Smart Car for $17,600. Top: The Nissan Versa for $12,000. Which would you want?
A couple of weeks ago I saw an ad in the Republic for the “Smart Car”. It’s made by Daimler and has been around in Europe for a while before making its way to us.
This is one tiny little car that seats two. When I saw the thing my first thought was “So, THAT is what a pregnant roller skate looks like!” I figured you could probably pick one up for about $5,000 which may not be a bad deal for something to just run around in locally. To my surprise, they start at $13,640 for the standard two door and go to $17,690 for the cabriolet convertible. That’s a bit expensive for a “car” that small that only gets 41 miles per gallon EPA estimate.
I’m sure there are people where I live who will “absolutely have to have one.” That’s fine with me, they have my permission to be trendy, but I think if I was looking for a new small car I would pass on the Smart Car and look at something that gets almost as good gas mileage and cost thousands less like the Toyota Yaris or the Nissan Versa.
The Yaris gets 36 mpg highway and has a backseat. One reviewer says it also “has the ability to do distance driving without terrifying driver and passenger.” The Versa is even less expensive, has a back seat, and gets 35 mpg.
In the 1950s, there was a postwar car from Italy called the Isetta. I remember seeing a few of them around when I was a kid. It had a door on the front that swung open to allow passengers to enter. Like the Smart Car, it was designed for two people who prayed they would not have a head on collision.
I think they sold well in Europe but we didn’t see many in the states. That was the era of big clunkers and cheap gas here and not many were worrying about fuel economy.
I could be wrong but I don’t see people flocking to the Smart Car showrooms. It’s probably a tree hugger’s dream but I don’t think the average American will go for it. I’m glad I don’t want one; I doubt that at my height I would be able to squeeze into the driver’s seat.
If you would like to leave a comment or read 41 other comments, click "Jim's azcentral blog" in the right column under links. You will not receive a virus. Jim McAllister writes for the Arizona Republic.