A short ride in a Smart

2006, Smart, fortwo

"Where are you?" I asked my good buddy Warren Brown from the Washington Post. I was calling from the Detroit Auto show on my cellphone. "I'm at the Cobo Arena, I'm waiting for my Smart and then I'm going back to the hotel, want a ride back?" says my even better buddy. Brilliant I say, oops, I mean smart.

I'm a semi-claustrophobe; I sleep with a foot shooting from underneath my covers at night, I get the aisle seat in the airplane and being stuck in an elevator - forget it. The Mercedes-Benz toy car that hasn't hit the states yet was something I hadn't driven in. It's much shorter than the mini, more golf-cartish and toyish looking.

We head out to the snow-bound streets of Detroit, throw our bags of press releases in the back and step inside. For a car that is small on the outside, it is not lacking on the inside. It's bigger interior room than a sports coupe, lots of headroom for us under 5 feet 10 inchers.

We head down Washington Avenue and I notice it's not an automatic, nor a manual. There is no clutch and there is no H-shifting. It's a straight up or back, a simple nod to the front on the shifter to up it a gear or back to decrease. Think tiptronic.

According to Mercedes-Benz they should start selling by 2006 for somewhere around $14,000. It's a little high, but the diesel powered car gets 50-60 miles to the gallon and are expected to be popular in urban areas.

That would be smart.

By Lou Ann Hammond
03/02/2005 12:00 am

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Images of the 2006, Smart fortwo

2006 Smart fortwo
2006 Smart fortwo