Advertisement

2013 Smart ForTwo: Strong Enough To Wear A Full-Size SUV As A Hat

Follow Antony

You either like the 2013 Smart ForTwo minicar, or you don't.

Few are ambivalent to a shape and a concept so divisive as the Smart, but U.S. sales would suggest that rather more people dislike it than appreciate its cheeky nature.

One popular misconception about the ForTwo from those rather less keen on it, is that you take your life into your hands every time you step behind the wheel. People equate size with safety, so the 8-foot Smart just doesn't look very safe.

That's where stunts like the video above come in--and as you can see, the 36 mpg ForTwo has all the strength you'd hope for, for something built by Mercedes-Benz.

In fact, Smart claims the Tridion safety cell can withstand over 3.5 tons, comfortably holding up a full-size SUV on its roof. A popular analogy is that of a football helmet, which is both strong, and in the event of an impact, spreads impact forces around the rather softer innards--be that your head, or in the Smart, your whole body.

You may also remember the crash test carried out several years ago by U.K. car show Fifth Gear, where an old-style Smart was smashed into a concrete barrier at 70 mph.

It ably showed the safety cell's strength, though the show's conclusion was that in that particular impact, the driver may not have survived--humans are a little more soft and squishy than their cars.

The current ForTwo is undoubtedly safer than an early example of the first-generation car (and has a larger, longer body through which to distribute impact forces), but such conclusions may not do a lot to reassure those who don't feel comfortable in such a small car.

Even if it can wear a full-size SUV as a hat.

+++++++++++

Follow GreenCarReports on Facebook and Twitter.

Advertisement
 
Follow Us

 

Have an opinion?

  • Posting indicates you have read this site's Privacy Policy and Terms of Use
  • Notify me when there are more comments
Comments (13)
  1. Love that it says "Not a dramatization".

    Wonder what the red paint indicates.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

     
  2. I *think* - but don't quote me on this - that the red paint highlights the areas which are dedicated crumple structures.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

     
  3. Hmmm, there is red paint on part of the A-pillar. I wouldn't think that would be a crumple zone.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

     
  4. Ah, well spotted. In that case I'm not sure, but I'll try and find out.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  5. Saw a similar image the other day with a Toyota Highlander on top of some compact car. The compact car was hardly damaged at all.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  6. In that Fifth Gear episode, I they also crashed an early 1990's Ford Fiesta which hardly came out worse than the Smart.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  7. When I look at Smart, the first concern that comes to mind is what would happen in a hard break situation. The wheel base looks to short for it to be stable in a quick deceleration situation. I feel that it could roll over like a bicycle does when you break to quickly.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

     
  8. A few things prevent that from happening. The first is that the heaviest object in the car - the engine - is positioned fairly low down and right at the back of the chassis. You'd need an extraordinary amount of leverage generated by braking to shift that mass up and over.

    The second is that the front tires are quite narrow, limiting the amount of braking force that can be applied to the road to stop a relatively heavy object that wants to continue going forward.

    The third is that modern safety features such as ABS, brake force distribution and stability control work together to prevent braking instability. You're right in thinking that such a shape would be unstable next to longer, wider vehicles, but rolling forward isn't possible.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  9. I am a 2008 fortwo owner and I had to test its braking behavior the day after I picked it up. A deer jumped the guardrail right in front of me on a narrow WV mountain road at night while I was doing about 35-40 mph. I hit the brakes as I hard as I could and the smart scrubbed off speed amazingly fast in a panic braking situation and stayed perfectly straight. Because the deer was so close, I still hit it, but the damage was minimal to the car. The plastic panels absorbed the impact well and they were just shoved back on their mounting points. I loosened the fasteners and they went back into position. The driver's side headlight was not salvageable, but I just replaced that myself. Bottom line: braking is a non issue in my experience.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

     
  10. Oh, and the emergency flashers came on automatically after everything was over. A nice touch in case there was someone coming up behind. The deer took a major whollop, but managed to get up and keep going. I'm not sure if it survived any internal injuries, but it wasn't killed on the spot.

    I've since tested the brakes in other situations over the last 60K miles and can attest to their abilities.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  11. 3.5 ton of "stable weight". What happens when that 3.5 ton moves at a speed of 20 mph?

    An empty coke can hold up almost 20 lbs of book evenly distributely with no problem. But as soon as you crumble just a tight bit of its side, it will crumple under the 20 lbs of weight...

    Samething here.

    Crashing into a fix wall at 70mph only have to absorb your own energy. But a head on collision against a 3 ton SUV will mean that Smart would have absorbe SUV's energy...
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

     
  12. Small critic there. The head-on collision doesn't mean you have to absorb the SUV's energy. The SUV will push you backwards.

    I think the more risky situation is to be crushed between an SUV and a concrete abutment.

    However, the SUV collision is only one possible crash situation. If the crash situation is a single car accident, the SMART is probably nearly as safe as the SUV.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

     
  13. I seem to recall Mythbusters doing a car vs. car and car vs. wall crash test and finding that even at double the closing speed (i.e. 70mph against a wall, but 140mph closing speed with cars heading toward each other) the damage to the car was no greater. Each car absorbs some of the other's energy, while the wall in the test had very little give.

    The smart is a short vehicle and would likely be bounced to some extent by the larger, heavier vehicle, so I can't see an accident with an SUV being appreciably worse than one against a concrete wall.

    Of course, my preferred option is to avoid crashing entirely. I can't imagine what life is like being terrified of driving small cars due to something that might not happen.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

 

Have an opinion? Join the conversation!

Advertisement
Advertisement

Find Green Cars

Go!

Advertisement

 
© 2014 Green Car Reports. All Rights Reserved. Green Car Reports is published by High Gear Media. Send us feedback. Stock photography by izmo, Inc.