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RE: report from Europe

To: "'Anthony Tabacco'" <>,
Subject: RE: report from Europe
From: "Thana, Peter {High~Palo Alto}" <PETER.THANA@Roche.COM>
Date: Wed, 09 Aug 2000 10:55:17 -0700
        Tony wrote...
        ... Most impressive though, was the Smart. check out their site;
This is a perfectly
> adapted urban "designed object". Wish I could import one.
        Yeah, I rented a Smart when I was in Munich this past March.  I
figured I might as well try something that I'd never be able to drive in the
States.  It was really hard to reserve one from here, because all the Avis
reps refuse to admit that the car class the Smart is in even exists.  Having
gone through all the trouble though, I'd have to say I highly recommend the
experience to anyone travelling to Europe.

        For anyone who doesn't know about the Smart, it's a small city car
made by MCC, originally a joint venture between Daimler Benz and Swatch
(yes, *that* Swatch).  It's about as long as a normal car is wide, and so
can be parallel parked head in.  It weighs about 1500lbs I think, and is
powered by a turbocharged 3 cylinder engine driving through a 6-speed
sequential semi-automatic gearbox.  No, it's not a tiptronic style
manumatic, and no I'm not kidding either!   It has a high strength steel
safety cage, and Mercedes claims that it's as safe in lab tests as an E
Class sedan.  Not sure how well it does in the real world, rolling end over
end.  Attached to the cage are plastic body panels which can be removed and
exchanged for different colors by the owner.  

        Granted, the Smart is not everything to everyone, but I did have fun
driving it.  On paper, it is a genuinely slow car.  Something like 22 sec.
0-60.  In the real world though, it *feels* really quick.  This is probably
due to the fact that it has a top speed of around 85mph, yet it has 6 gears.
As a result, trundling through town at 30 mph means you've already redlined
it in 3 gears!

        It really makes you think about how relative power is.  I mean, do
we really need big, 400hp cars when you can have so much fun in something
small and slow?  Ok, maybe we do...

        Here are some pics of the car:

        Peter Thana
        '99 BMW Z3 2.8 Coupe
        SFR AS-Street Tire

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