Monday, March 7, 2011


So, I had to replace the Deerkiller with something. Perhaps we can define the term "had to". As much as I am not a car person, with work and home and triathlon, a car is definitely useful. So "had to" it is.

But what? I decided on a Smart ForTwo. I knew the car fairly well as La Belle has one. Good on fuel, nice-looking, mostly recyclable, low emissions. Works for me.

It's a gas model, because they don't import the diesel into the US market any more. The US has very stringent emissions regulations which essentially bars the Smart ForTwo diesel from the North America market. The whole thing smacks more of politics rather than concern for the environment, as the emissions standards for gasoline engines are far more lenient and don't even come close to the diesel ones. But hey, you can't argue against the EPA so lets just go with what's on offer.

Black throughout. What else? White was available, but can you see me in a white car? The name came naturally; The Ninja; black, sleek, stealthy and fast! Yup, fast. Way better acceleration than the diesel, and with the semi-automatic gear-box (you change gear, the car does the clutch by itself, so no nasty clutch-control to trip stall you out) it's really easy to speed in this puppy; gotta be careful with this one!

When I picked it up, it only had 20 kms on the clock, it didn't occur to me to take a pic until I'd done a couple of miles

Still, my long run on Sunday was 30 kms!

I could have got a "previously enjoyed" diesel, but getting the absolute best fuel economy wasn't a priority for me. This change in car was more about reducing my own personal carbon foot-print and reducing my fuel costs. The numbers the car was sold to me on are not real-world according to the Smart forums (fora? What is the correct plural?) but the car will likely burn ca. 1L fuel more per 100 kms than the equivalent diesel model, but even this 20% relative increase in fuel consumption still means The Ninja will burn 40% less fuel than the Deerkiller! Reducing emissions and costs. And, to be honest, the hypermilers are kinda kooks anyway. They mean well, but they always come across as being a bit, well, off.

Parking is a hoot. It's 7" longer than La Belle's diesel, most of which is extra trunk space (and when the trunk is that small, any increase is significant) but it's still about as long as a Hummer is wide. Unfortunately, the word is parking nose-in to the kerb is illegal, which is a shame. Still, at the condo we squeezed two Smart Cars into one parking space.

Together, we're not much longer than the Mercedes C class in the adjacent bay! Speaking of Mercs, The Ninja looks boxy but it's drag coefficient is the same as an S-class.

Or indeed, squeeze two cars into the place of one outside one's favourite coffee shop

You can see the differences in styling between the '06 and '10 ForTwos. I've seen it written that the first generation '06s were styled more like concept cars; quite futuristic. The '10s are a little more down-to-earth and with two cup-holders dare-one-say, a bit more North American? You can see this mostly in the interior, but you can see here how the '06s rocket-ship silhouette has become a bit bulkier!

Funny how life comes around. Back in the UK I nearly bought a yellow Fiat Cinqeucento, very similar in lots of way; small, 700cc engine. It was nominally a 4 seater but very nominally, and optimistically.

Finally got a Fiat Uno, same kind of deal, but a larger engine (999cc) and a legitimate 4 seater. Not this one, but very similar.

Anyway, here I am, 20 years down the line, with a very similar vehicle to the one I was looking at 20 years ago. Given the way The Ninja drives (very well thank-you), and the Uno drove, it makes me wonder how the substantially larger bodied Cinquecento would have managed the highway with the same sized engine as The Ninja!

Of course, the problem is the boys. Well, they're never a problem, but a two-seater does pose a challenge. The answer is either we go in two Smart cars, or join Halifax Car Share (or rent) for the rare times I'll need to car both of them independently. Using two Smarts uses about the same amount of fuel as the Deerkiller alone. Not to mention travelling in style! Or, of course, get the bus, ride or walk!

Vroom, vroom



  1. Good write-up. I have one slight correction for you (no offence intended)

    "The US has very stringent emissions regulations which essentially bars the Smart ForTwo diesel from the North America market."

    Canada is part of North America, and the diesels are here. :)

    Quick question too, what type of vehicle was the "deerkiller"?

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  3. Thanks for the comment Leadwing. To the best of my knowledge re the ForTwo cdi, the first generation was allowed but the second generation (a la The Ninja) weren't/aren't (unless I've got it horribly wrong). I can't speak for VW diesels or any other one!! No, I don't get it either.

    The Deerkiller was a Hyundai Elantra