NBC Nightly News tonight lauded the new (to America) Smart car from Mercedes Benz. Smarts have been around for a number of years in Europe and have proved relatively popular both in Britain and on the continental mainland.
Given a choice of eleven different models, ranging from the basic “Fortwo Pure” at 61 bhp to the rangy Smart “Fortwo BRABUS Cabrio” at 98 bhp, it would seem there is one to suit anybody – or at least, anyone with no children, as the Smart is only a two-seater.
NBC made much of the car for inner city commuting, particularly it’s ability to park on a dime, but then came the shock. According to the US EPA the car only returns a combined town/highway gas consumption of 36 mpg.
Asked about such an appalling figure from a 999cc engine, the dealer responded in true dealership fashion:
“You know, there’s a fine line between performance expectation and maximum fuel economy.”
Presumably, he was trying to say that if you want it to go reasonably quickly, it requires more gasoline? Then why is the American version fitted with a governor that caps top speed at 84 mph, when the basic European car manages 90 mph and the BRABUS 95 mph?
All this may seem somewhat irrelevant until one discovers the Smart’s European counterparts manage to return fuel economy figures that make the US version look like a ten ton truck.
Town/highway figures show the European BRABUS returns a respectable 54 mpg, and the basic Smart manages a devastatingly appealing 60 mpg.
Which begs the question: why do foreign cars sold in America always produce poorer gas mileage figures than their European or Asian counterparts? The US Smart manages a figure over a third less, from the same 999cc turbo-charged engine.
It makes no sense, unless one becomes incredibly cynical and dares to suggest a political element limiting the scope of non-American motor manufacturers?
Filed under: U.S. not so Smart