Get smart (car)

Looking for a small, fuel-efficient, stylish car to drive around the city? Consider the smart. At just over eight feet long, the smart car can zip down tiny one-way streets and slip into itty-bitty parking spaces at the grocery store.

Launched in 1998 in Europe, the smart took a decade to cross the Atlantic to the United States where big cars reign supreme. But as more and more Americans came home from Europe with photos of themselves next to the cute little cars, demand increased in cities across the country. Smart eventually launched in the USA in 2008, ten years after its European debut.

The iconic smart fortwo (the only smart currently in production) is a two-seater microcar small enough to park head on in a space all other cars would parallel park in. Weighing two hundred and ten pounds less than the world’s largest pumpkin, the car is light and fuel-efficient at 41 MPG highway and 33 MPG in the city.

Originally developed by Nicolas Hayek of Swatch and nicknamed the Swatchmobile, the smart was to be the Swatch of the car world: trendy and customizable. The name smart came later and was an internal acronym at the Mercedes company for “Swatch Mercedes Art” – the perfect name when you consider how easy it is to personalize your smart car.

The panels of the car are easily interchangeable so you can order new ones to change the color of your car, mix and match color panels for a unique look, or choose a vehicle wrap design such as plaid or a blank street map.

Hayek originally envisioned the smart car as a hybrid electric vehicle, but it was released with a gasoline engine. Now, more than ten years after the release of the first smart, a smart ED is on the road in trial phases and is expected to launch officially in 2012.

Today, you can find used smart fortwo’s on the market for a low price and often without too many miles on them. They’re great for city driving and will have you zooming around Pittsburgh (or your home city) with ease.