Since the Smart’s debut in the States in 2008, it's hard not to notice one of the country's smallest--if not the smallest--production car. Especially if you live in one of those coastal places with teensy parking spots and the political will to make people want to drive a rolling phone booth.

Since it hopped the pond and arrived Stateside, the Smart Fortwo has had waiting lists at just about every available dealer. For the 2008 model year only 16,000 units were expected to be produced for delivery to the U.S. consumers, while the number of people wanting a Smart easily exceeded that number. It reminds me of the debut of the Porsche Boxster, which ended up with some customers waiting 9 months or more for their cars (drawing on personal experience here--does it show?).

The basics of the ForTwo make it perfect for parking in cities--but does the Smart make for the smartest choice, otherwise? The specs are telling. The Smart comes in at 106.1 inches overall length--that's the wheelbase on a Honda Civic--and weighs in at a mere 1800 and some pounds. This little car is powered by a lawnmoweresque 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine (hey Smart? Geo called, they're missing their hamsters). It putts out 71 hp and 68 lb-ft of torque.

All told, the Smart is no track star: TheCarConnection.com says will propel itself 0-60 in about 14.1 seconds and returns 33 mpg city/ 41 mpg highway. TCC also give this car a 6 out of 10 overall rating--mostly for its poor handling. Its highest marks come in safety with an 8 out of 10. To get rolling with this little package will set you back $11,590 MSRP for the base model.

2009 Honda Fit

2009 Honda Fit

It's not easy to pick a car that matches the Smart. Instead, let's compare it to another car that has impressed the nation with its value and economy, the 2009 Honda Fit. The Fit is 161.6 inches overall length, has 117 hp, gets 27 mpg city/ 33 mpg highway and tips the wallet at a base MSRP of $14,750. It gets much more favorable ratings here at TCC--an 8.2 out of 10 on the overall rating review, mainly for its precise handling and flexible interior.

For an extra $3,160, the base Fit gives two more seats, more performance and only a 6 mpg reduction city and 8 mpg reduction on the highway—and, maybe the best part, you can take delivery of one today. The Smart kicks ass at parking, but the Fit has it all over the ForTwo in handling, convenience and utility.

And yet, the Smart still has some appeal. People don’t fall in love with the smart for the gas mileage or the base price, they fall in love with a concept, with a lifestyle—with something "different." What other kind of car can you park nose in at the curb legally? If you're just trying to be practical, the Fit or even a VW Rabbit would, um, fit.

We rarely fall in love on the basis of rationality. So if you need to commute in a crowded urban city, the Smart's worth a test drive--it might just capture your heart.

Ge more photo and pricing information here at AllSmallCars' 2009 Smart Fortwo page, and read the full review over at TheCarConnection.com's Smart page.