It’s hard to believe that the humble Smart car has been with us since the 1990s. Since 1997, the distinctive-looking two-seater has sold 100,000 units in the UK and is now a common site within heavily urbanized areas.
Even for city-dwellers who have access to a large public transport network, there are still plenty of times when the convenience of being able to take their own car somewhere comes in handy and a Smart car is the ideal solution.
The third-generation Fortwo is powered by either of two 3-cylinder engines: a 1.0-liter engine producing 71 bhp or a turbocharged 0.9-liter 89 bhp engine. Both models promise fuel economy in excess of 67 mpg and CO2 emissions below 100g/km. While an all-electric version of the third-generation isn’t expected to debut until next year, there is an all-electric version of the previous model. The UK government currently offers 35% off the cost of a plug-in car, up to maximum of £5,000. The Smart Fortwo electric drive is currently listed as one of the vehicles eligible for the grant.
While the low-powered engine may not be able to to pick up speed on the motorway, it does benefit from being one of the cheapest cars around to insure. Smart car drivers rarely reach the kind of average annual mileage that other drivers do because these vehicles are designed for short trips around the city. When combined with their impressive safety ratings--both the 2007 and 2014 Smart Fortwo models have received four out of five stars from Euro NCAP--that means insurance companies are often happy to reduce the price of insurance dramatically.
Despite their premium feel, one of the most common criticisms of Smart cars has been their high price. However, vehicles can be found on the used market from outlets such as Ridgeway for far below their original asking price. This means that you’ll still get the benefits of reduced fuel costs and lower priced insurance, but you won’t have to suffer the same costs of depreciation that the original owner did.
The benefit of Smart cars were always apparent. It’s small frame made it a breeze to nip around busy cities and find available parking spots that, until previously, only motorcyclists could dream of squeezing into. The Smart car has its other qualities too, though, and may just turn out to be a smart investment.