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“SMART” - A WISDOM OR A BOOT?

In the spring, sales of an unusual microcar will begin.

Mikhail GZOVSKIY. Company photo

City car of the near future. What should it be like? It is not at all easy to answer this question, although there are several basic requirements that a modern city car must meet. Firstly, it is compact. Secondly - profitability. Thirdly, environmental cleanliness. Based on these “three pillars”, the German concern Daimler-Benz and the Swiss company SMH (known in the world primarily for their watches “Omega” and “Swatch”) decided in April 1994 to create a car that would make -another look at the problem of movement in the city. The technical competence of Daimler-Benz, coupled with non-standard design solutions by SMH, as well as the experience gained by the Swiss in the field of microelectronics, made it possible to construct a unique machine called Smart (it can be translated into Russian as “smart”).

Smart is a 100% European. The car was developed in Germany, its production is being set up in France, and the head office of the joint venture, called MCC (Micro Compact Car), is located in Switzerland.

High-strength alloys, as well as environmentally friendly modern plastics and fabrics are used for the production of automobiles. The body is based on a particularly rigid metal frame-frame, to which plastic body elements are attached. At the same time, the frame perfectly resists deformations and successfully protects passengers in the event of an accident. Rear and front, it is supplemented with special energy-absorbing panels, the presence of which will protect the body from damage in a collision at a speed of up to 15 km / h. By the way, the designers intentionally did not lighten the car too much - this allows the protective zones of the body to deform and absorb impact energy, thereby reducing the load on passengers.

The designers, who gave a completely original look to the microcar, decided that the frame can also be used for decorative purposes. They made it easily distinguishable both outside and inside the car by choosing a color that did not match the main one used for the body. The frame can be painted in one of the two colors provided for it - anthracite or brilliant silver, while the body itself - in one of four: white, yellow, red, black. It is easy to calculate that a total of eight options are possible. But this is for now, but it will be seen there.

One of the main and indisputable advantages of Smart is its size. With a length of 2.5 m and a width of 1.55 m, the car easily maneuvers in a dense stream and can easily find a parking place in urban cramped areas. Such a modest size, however, allows two adult passengers to comfortably fit in the car, and the unusual layout provides excellent visibility and passive safety. The car interior is devoid of any frills, it is as functional as possible and thought out to the smallest detail. There is a place in it for a couple of suitcases, and if you push the passenger seat forward, the boot volume will increase to … 550 liters! In such a car, this is impressive.

The difference between Smart and most current cars is that the engine and gearbox, arranged in one unit, are located at the rear of the car and, in the event of a collision, “go down” without invading the passenger compartment.

In addition, the car is equipped as standard with full-size airbags for the driver and passenger, aluminum reinforcing beams in the doors and belt tensioners. The anti-lock braking system is also standard, and side airbags can also be ordered.

As a power unit, a three-cylinder gasoline engine with a turbocharger with a working volume of 600 cm3 and a power of 55 hp was used, which allows to reach a maximum speed of 130 km / h (then the electronic limiter is triggered) and accelerate to 60 km / h in seven seconds. Moreover, the maximum fuel consumption does not exceed 4.7 l / 100 km. The version with a diesel engine of the same volume (and also turbocharged), consuming just over three liters of fuel for the same 100 kilometers, is also preparing for release. It is curious that the car has rear-wheel drive, and the gearbox (naturally, five-speed) is paired with an automatic clutch: to activate an increased gear, the driver only needs to shift the lever toward himself, and the lower one - “from himself”.

Daimler-Benz and SMH do not intend to rest on their laurels and plan to create by 2000 a hybrid power unit with a minimum content of harmful substances in exhaust gases. In general, when developing Smart, its creators did not forget about the environmental factor for a minute. The engine of the car received a certificate of environmental cleanliness, and 95% of the materials from which the body and interior parts are made are suitable for processing and subsequent recycling.

The authors of the car design proposed the so-called “mobility concept” using a number of original devices that help the driver in difficult situations. The system includes a cell phone and is capable of transmitting information about the location of the car, the traffic situation, and contacting the police or medical assistance in a matter of seconds.

“The concept of mobility”, as its creators believe, will allow the owner to travel with “Smart” all over the planet. Imagine: the baby driver parks her in a designated compartment of the plane, and she flies with him to anywhere in the world. Or another option. In large European cities, it is planned to create a network of parking lots where you can rent a Smart at any time.

So far, this, of course, is only plans and prospects, but the fact that the plant for the production of “smarties” will reach its design capacity of 200 thousand cars a year is a matter of the coming years. According to the representatives of the company, the retail price of Smart in the most expensive configuration will not exceed 20 thousand German marks, which is quite affordable for the average European.

We would like to conclude the article on the fact that the new microcar, apparently, will be in high demand in Europe. However, the subsequent development of events showed that its prospects are far from so cloudless. At first, the automotive press circulated a message that the Mercedes A-class has problems with active safety - in other words, the car is not stable enough. This made many think of Smart with a certain amount of prejudice - the technical parent of these machines is one, Daimler-Benz. And now the Italian press reports that in similar modes, “Smart” behaves like an A-class. Of course, it should be borne in mind that Italians (and not without reason) consider themselves leaders in the European production of microcars and are very jealous of possible competitors. Nevertheless, in one of the next issues we will try to state our point of view regarding the current situation. Now we just note - it will be very unfortunate if the courageous (and ambitious) attempt of the Mercedes to break out of the well-known stereotype of the “manufacturer of cars for the rich” fails.

The body frame is durable and easily withstands standard crash tests.

Gamma? Palette!

Speedometer and control lamp unit. Once a similar shield was on the GAZ-21 …

The gear lever and the ignition switch are next to it. Something like SAAB, right?