Saturday, October 22, 2011

Define "Smart"

Somehow, I don't buy the Smart Car as the answer to our obsession with BIG BIG BIG (did the first ten seconds of this commercial give anyone else a headache?) vehicles. I'm very glad that the Age of the Humvee seems to have passed (it will not be missed,) though I am a bit concerned about how car companies will react if the price of gasoline continues to tumble, but I don't think that means we are all going to seek forgiveness by decking ourselves out in sackcloth and ashes and driving around in sardine cans with wheels.

I guess the "BIG BIG BIG" promotion strategy beat out "the price and gasoline mileage of an Accord, combined with the functionality and looks of a Go-Cart" sales pitch? Kind of surprising, since the Smart Car comes with so many cool features you just can't find on other, normal and not really stupid-looking vehicles: The Smart Locking Gas Cap, for instance, or the Smart Rear Window Wiper. Oh, and don't forget the Smart Sound System. What? You say you can get all these things for your Not a Four Wheeled Skate Board automobile? Maybe- but they won't be Smart.

I really want to apologize to the people who poured maybe two or three weeks of their lives into designing this pretentious Slightly Safer Than A Moped on the Jersey Turnpike cars. But a guy who lives up the street from me actually owns one of these things, and whenever I walk past his house and see it in his driveway, I expect a six year old kid to jump in it and start pedaling. Seriously, I wouldn't bet on it surviving a collision with a Big Wheel- and I think I'd look less stupid heading off to Giant Food in a Green Machine than zipping along in one of these things.

As long as I'm piling on- this has also got to be just about the ugliest motor vehicle I have ever seen. It's not ugly in the way a Humvee is ugly- it doesn't scream "I hate the world and the environment and I like to pretend I'm in Iraq without having to actually fight, and by the way I am too rich to care about the price of gasoline." I can deal with the stunning level of smug self-satisfaction that must go in to the decision to buy one of these things. But jeesh, just look at this eyesore. It makes the freaking Nissan Cube look like an Audi 8. The New Beetle is a work of art compared to this bizarre little toy (and it gets about the same gas mileage, too.)

So no, I'm not in favor of going BIG BIG BIG. But this is an overreaction. Just because I don't want to drive an armored jeep or a minivan (btw, do minivans come with Finding Nemo pre-installed in the DVD player? Because every time I find myself behind one, that's what's playing) doesn't mean I'm willing to putter around in a freaking fiberglass egg. I also don't want to be checking the driveway during windstorms to make sure my car hasn't joined the garbage cans in the street or is being carried off in some kid's backpack.

You did succeed in one respect, Smart Car- your commercials are every bit as insufferable and annoying as the ads for REAL automobiles.


  1. If all the other cars on the road were Smart Cars, then I would be willing to drive one of these.

  2. Agreed. I think that in an argument between a Smart Car and a speed bump, I'd put my money on the speed bump. Driving one of these things on the highway where real cars dominate is like bringing a water pistol to a knife fight. Pass.

  3. When the point of the ad is to laud someone for buying an alleged car that would lose an argument with litter left on the road, I don't think 'Smart' is anywhere near appropriate a name for it.