2008 Smart ForTwo - Does Size Matter?

John Roe

There's only one problem: I observe the Smart for a cumulative two and a half hours and don't see one meter maid. Several cops drive by, as do a few tow trucks, but nobody pays a glance at the tiny car wedged in front of the meters. So the qualified answer is that the ForTwo is an ally in the war to find a parking spots.

The ForTwo doesn't get otherworldly fuel mileage, and, at a base price of $12,235, it's not especially cheap. Also, as I pull away from a stoplight in Tempe, I see two girls in an adjacent car laughing at me. But I'll bet they wouldn't be laughing if they knew they were looking at the Ferrari Enzo of parallel parking. OK. Maybe they would.

Is it Smart?
If you name yourself L. L. Cool J, you'd better make sure the Ladies Love Cool James. If you name your aircraft carrier Invincible, you make damn sure the bloody Argentineans don't make a liar of you in the Falklands. And if you name your car Smart, it'd better be a four-wheeled Ken Jennings.

After putting the ForTwo through its paces in both urban and rural situations, I'd have to say that the Smart lives up to its name, but only in the city. If you commute to work and park in a lot, then you're probably better served by a more conventional car. But if your commute includes regular battle in the trenches of metered parking, the Smart really might be the best option on the market.

For instance, I used to live in Beacon Hill in Boston, a place so dense and bereft of parking that I'd sometimes drive past literally every spot in the entire neighborhood, and there wouldn't be one single place to park. I've since foregone that misery and moved to a different part of town, but the day after I return from my Smart adventure, I find myself driving to dinner in Beacon Hill behind the wheel of a hulking Lexus LS460L. I luck out and find someone climbing into a minivan and getting ready to vacate a precious spot, so I pull ahead and put on my blinker. As the minivan pulls out, I see another car has pulled up behind the space, its blinker also flashing, and a standoff straight out of Seinfeld ensues. I don't back down, because I was here first - clearly, you don't drive forward into a parallel-parking spot-and the irate woman at the wheel of the other car eventually concedes this point, although not before giving me the finger. When I return to the Lexus after dinner, there's a note on the windshield that reads, "What goes around comes around, you sorry excuse for a human being."

Sounds like somebody could use a hug. And a Smart.

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