The Micro Car and 2009 Fuel Economy

By Michael Dorausch, D.C.

Drivers in the USA are undoubtedly noticing more mini and micro cars on the roads these days, as American consumers show their enthusiasm for greener and more fuel-efficient vehicles. While much media attention has been received for American muscle cars like this 2010 Red Candy GT Coupe Mustang, small economical driving machines have been capturing the interest of the press and public as well.

Smart fortwo cabriolet top view
2009 smart fortwo cabriolet
In the US market, one is not likely to see any automobile smaller on the road, then the car simply known as Smart. I had my first experience with the micro Smart car several years ago when traveling along the coast of Mexico, on a cruise ship out of Long Beach, California. We were docking into port in a West Coast Mexican city and I witnessed a neighboring vessel unloading these tiny automobile by the hundreds. Visiting the coastal city of Puerto Vallarta, I noticed the cars everywhere, and I recall taking quite a few photos.

Years later I was in Hamburg Germany and my cousin dropped me off at the airport in his sapphire blue Smart car. That was the first time I got to experience the vehicle as a passenger, as we moved along the autobahn, into Humbert city and the international airport. The car had a manual transmission, which I wasn’t too excited about, but it held its own on the highway, and sitting inside it didn’t actually feel like I was in a “small” automobile.

In November 2008, the Smart car is now close to approaching its one-year anniversary in the United States. I may be biased, but I couldn’t help but noticing many different customized versions of 2008 and 2009 smart fortwo cars, throughout the LA Auto Show at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Thursday morning I had my chance to get behind the wheel of a 2009 convertible Smart car, and take it for a spin around downtown Los Angeles.

I had two concerns about this mini two-seater automobile, one was an ergonomic comfort, and the other was safety. It’s a cute car, and I like it just as much as I did when first seeing it in Mexico years earlier (the smart fortwo brand has been in existence for 10 years globally). It’s a non hybrid vehicle, and the US model runs on unleaded gasoline (my copilot recommended using premium gas), getting some 41 miles per gallon on the highway. In the state of California, the vehicle has been classified as Ultra-Low Emission (see California Global Warming Bill) by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and it was recently ranked as the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid vehicle in the United States, by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2009 Fuel Economy Guide.

While the vehicle is only 8.8 feet long, and a little over 5 feet wide, it comes equipped with many of the functional and safety features found in most luxury model automobiles. On the floor at the LA Auto Show there were skeleton frames of the 2009 smart car, showing off the vehicles steel reinforced construction. The 2009 smart fortwo BRABUS models come equipped with full-size airbags for driver and passenger, along with head and neck side airbags, seat belt tensioners, and belt force limiters. According to the vehicles USA distributor, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the smart fortwo 5 stars (out of a possible 5 stars) for side impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the smart fortwo coupe a “good” (highest possible rating) for Frontal Offset Crash and Side Crash.

I don’t know how many people will be shopping for cars on Black Friday (which is this week), but this is a fun and economical vehicle to be checking out. Visit the US distributors web site at www.smartusa.com for more information regarding the 2009 smart fortwo.

Maintain best driving posture practices and stay safe on the roads. Happy motoring!

planetc1.com-news @ 11:13 am | Article ID: 1227381262