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Pint-sized Economy Car Marches to the Beat of its Own Drum
The Smart fortwo has always offered a unique subcompact option for new car shoppers interested in sampling something outside the box when it comes to both style and design. This diminutive two-seat runabout has largely managed to overcome its initial perception as a city-only conveyance and gradually won over a larger segment of the market through its quirky looks and its frugal fuel economy.
The Smart fortwo is an attractive prospect for anyone looking for a bargain on a small European car even in its base form, but the ability to accessorize and option out the fortwo adds an extra dimension to the subcompact that some buyers might not be aware of. Let's take a look at 10 things you need to know about the 2010 Smart fortwo.
Photos courtesy of Smart
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#1. Small, But Versatile Interior
It is unusual for a two-seat automobile to be considered practical, but the engineers at Smart have taken care to ensure that the Smart fortwo makes the most of what interior space it does provide to its owners. The vehicle's trunk, situated directly behind the driver's seat, is rated at seven cubic feet in size, but the tall roofline of the fortwo enables it to be packed from floor to ceiling until it has swallowed up to 12 cubic feet of luggage in total. This puts it on par with the trunk space found in many compact sedans, and even nudges some members of the mid-size category.
In addition, the passenger seat folds flat to allow for the storage of longer items, and the vehicle's rear hatch splits in two to allow the rear window and bottom tailgate to be opened separately. This makes it easier to get in and out of the Smart fortwo's storage compartment.
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#2. Three-cylinder Engine Offers Frugal Fuel Consumption
The 2010 Smart fortwo undercuts its economy car rivals by a single cylinder under the hood, which helps it to deliver better than average for its class. The vehicle's 1.0-liter, three-cylinder engine generates 70 horsepower and 68 lb-ft of torque and is rated at 33-mpg in city driving and 41-mpg on the highway. The fortwo's output is managed through a unique five-speed "automated manual" transmission that can be shifted through steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters on certain models, adding an air of sportiness to the fortwo's thrifty performance. Despite its lack of grunt, the Smart fortwo's low curb weight helps out with acceleration. That being said, don't expect sports car performance - merely reasonably peppy runs from one stoplight to the next.
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#3. Small, Yet Safe in a Crash
There is a general perception in the United States that small cars are inherently unsafe, and Smart has gone out of its way to help fight against that image in the subcompact fortwo. The vehicle is designed around what Smart calls the tridion safety cell, which is a network of steel beams that connect to the rear bumpers in order to offer excellent crash energy dispersal during an accident. Even the vehicle's wheels and axles, which are located at the four corners of the platform, are called upon to help direct the force of an impact away from vehicle occupants.
Smart fortwo passengers actually sit above the safety cell in order to further protect them from injury, and a network of airbags can be deployed both in the front and to the side of the interior in order to mitigate the risks of occupants being hurt in an accident.
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#4. Advanced Electronic Safety Systems Work to Prevent Accidents
Despite its inexpensive pricing, the 2010 Smart fortwo offers anti-lock brakes and the Electronic Stability Program (ESP) as standard equipment, each of which help drivers to maintain control of the vehicle no matter how slippery road conditions might get. The Smart fortwo also provides additional driving aids such as electronic brake assist which increases braking force in an emergency situation, and cornering brake control which selectively applies the brakes to the inside and outside wheels while cornering so as to prevent fishtailing.
Traction is further maintained by the fortwo's acceleration skid control and engine torque control. The former manages torque distribution to the rear wheels by sending it to whichever wheels offers the most traction, while the latter reduces engine output should wheel spin be unavoidable.
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#5. Smart fortwo Buyers Can Select Pure or Passion Models
The Smart fortwo essentially breaks down into two models - the Pure and the Passion. The Pure is targeted at buyers looking for basic transportation, and as such includes only the essentials: manual windows, central locking, intermittent windshield wipers, a defroster for the rear glass and a locking gas cap. The Pure can be dressed up with options such as air conditioning, an alarm system, power steering, heated seats and one of two different radio choices (single CD or a six-CD changer that can read MP3 digital music files).
The Smart fortwo Passion includes several of the Pure's optional features as standard, and also throws in items like power windows, heated side mirrors with power adjustment and a panoramic sunroof. Both sound systems still need to be added as options, and the Passion also opens up the availability of the Comfort Package, which installs heated leather seating, power steering and fog lights.
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#6. Specialty Tuner BRABUS Edition Also Available
BRABUS is a German tuner known for its partnership with Mercedes-Benz in producing custom editions of some of that luxury automaker's automobiles. The Smart fortwo BRABUS edition co-opts some of the chunky, extroverted styling that characterizes BRABUS models thanks to the installation of a body kit on the fortwo that includes front, rear and side skirts and a sport exhaust system. Larger 17-inch BRABUS alloy wheels help to complete the exterior look. Inside the BRABUS edition, the fortwo benefits from luxury items such as heated leather seats and a panoramic sunroof, as well as sporty trim in the form of brush aluminum pedals and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The fortwo BRABUS also offers tighter handling than the standard version of the Smart car thanks to its lowered sport suspension system.
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#7. Convertible or Coupe
In addition to the fixed-roof coupe and panoramic sunroof versions of the Smart fortwo, a drop top convertible edition is also available. The Smart fortwo cabriolet comes in both Passion and BRABUS trim levels, and it offers a targa-style open roof experience while still offering the convenience of a folding top that sits just above the cargo compartment in the rear.
Smart claims that the vehicle's roof can be opened to any position while the vehicle is traveling at any speed, adding versatility to the convertible setup that is not often found on this style of automobile. The vehicle's side roof bars can also be removed in order to further customize the look of the cabriolet with the top down. These bars can be kept at home or stored in the vehicle's tailgate.
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#8. Smart Accessories Include Replaceable Body Panels
Smart provides a full line of accessories for the smart fortwo that are designed to allow buyers to personalize the subcompact with their own custom touches. One of the most intriguing options available in the fortwo accessory catalog is the replacement body panels that can be ordered in a full range of different colors. These panels can be mounted in place of the current smart fortwo body work, which means that all that is required to change the color of the Smart car is a few minutes spent in the garage swapping out one set of panels for another. No other car on the market offers this type of innovative yet simple customization capability.
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#9. Smart Drive App Provides iPhone Integration
Like most car companies, Smart has joined the Apple iPhone bandwagon and provides an integration kit that allows the device to connect fully with the Smart fortwo entertainment system. Smart has gone a step further than other automakers, however, in the sense that it also offers a custom app called Smart Drive that the brand calls the first iPhone app ever specifically developed by a vehicle manufacturer. The app allows Smart fortwo owners to stream as many as 10,000 Internet radio stations directly to their vehicle, as well as take advantage of on-the-go mapping through the iPhone's GPS system and also access the Microsoft Bing! online search engine.
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#10 Changes in Store for 2011
The 2011 edition of the Smart fortwo will improve on the current 2010 model in several ways. The coupe and convertible will gain improved entertainment options (such as a 6.5-inch LCD screen that also doubles as a navigation device), as well as a new range of exterior accessories (in the form of both wheels and body panels) to help further update the appearance of the automobile. LED running lamps up front combine with a trip computer and ambient lighting inside the Smart fortwo passenger compartment to provide more of a high tech experience for drivers, while new storage options scattered throughout the interior enhance the vehicle's practicality.
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