Safer than expected Smart Fortwo performs like bigger cars in crash tests – NY Daily News

29 Jun 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Safer than expected Smart Fortwo performs like bigger cars in crash tests – NY Daily News

Safer than expected Smart Fortwo performs like bigger cars in crash tests


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Chances are you’ve seen this impossibly tiny car roaming around urban streets in the region. If you are like the average driver who sees one, your thoughts are almost instantly drawn to how the Smart Fortwo would fare in an accident with anything larger than a scooter.

This pondering would only be natural. You need never have taken physics, let alone passed the course, to inherently understand that when a small car collides with a larger one, the smaller vehicle is going to take the worst of the forces involved. In standard European testing of cars that are similarly sized to the Smart, or fractionally larger, the smashing of the little cars into metallic coffins is pretty much the rule, the Smart being the exception.

ADAC, a German automobile club not unlike the AAA here, wanted to see if the Smart was capable of taking a larger hit. The usual EuroNCAP crash test is a simulated frontal collision with a vehicle of the same weight. ADAC had four smaller car makes crash into a 50 percent offset barrier, weighted to be the equivalent of a lower-end mid-sized car.

Again, the Smart was the only microcar that held up.

ADAC’s conclusions were that the traditional crumple zone designs of the Smart’s competitors don’t afford enough space to be effective. The Smart keeps its occupants safe using a different strategy—extreme structural rigidity combined with energy dissipating body panels and eight airbags that protect from every angle.

The driver and passenger in the Smart Fortwo are protected by what Mercedes-Benz calls the tridion safety cell.

The innovative construction of the Smart Fortwo is a feather in the cap of the builder, Mercedes-Benz. The company set itself a mission to exceed all of the European and American Car safety standards and make a small car that could survive a huge impact without major injury to the occupants. These stricter internal standards mean the Smart Fortwo punches above its weight in a collision with most larger vehicles, within reason.

The principle safety system is a high tensile steel safety cage M-B calls the tridion safety cell. It protects its occupants like a walnut shell around the nut inside. The safety cell’s longitudinal and transverse rigidity actually activates the crumple zone design of the other vehicle involved in the accident to distribute the impact energy evenly over the little car’s body.

The entire rear mounted engine bay and the front suspension are designed to act as the car’s own crumple zones. It’s a good thing most Smart models cost well below $20,000 because they are engineered to take the kill shot for you in a serious collision.

More than 1.4 million Smart Fortwo cars have taken to the roads world wide since 1998. If they were abnormally dangerous, the cry for its removal from the market would have been heard by now.

If your driving profile fits smartly with the Fortwo, pun intended, you can drive one in total confidence around your town or city, as it will easily survive most moderate impacts with its safety cell intact. That said, only daredevils will regularly dance a Fortwo with the tractor trailer rigs on the turnpike.

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