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Driving the Smart Fortwo is, uh, unique. With its 40-horsepower / 74 lb-ft. common rail direct injection motor our time behind its wheel began like this (seriously). writers to each other:

“Hey, this is in drive, right?

Yeah. I think so.

I’m hitting the accelerator right?

Looks like it.

Then why are we going backwards?” writers to Smart Car media rep on hand at the Clean Diesel Technology Tour:

“Hey, why are we going backwards?  The car’s in drive and we’re hitting the accelerator.

Hit it harder.

Ah, ok.”

And off we went.

Contrast this with the 350-hp / 650 lb-ft. Cummins equipped Dodge Ram drive, that began like this.

“Uh, I think I just ripped the curb off the street.”

We’ll give credit to the interior designers for their clever use of space in the Fortwo. Somehow they managed to warp space time to provide occupants with the feeling of being in a larger vehicle. Must be because our heads we’re about 6-inches from the rear glass. The controls took some getting used to. Except for the speedometer, the instrument cluster provided only abbreviated information to the driver in the form of liquid crystal bars instead of using nice big font hogging meters like you’ll find in the dashes of ‘Merican metal. Apparently even word space is at a premium in the Old World. Cheap blue and gray plastic lined every inch of its minimalist insides. For driving enthusiasts paddle shifters are mounted on the steering wheel, if you want to make the I3 noisier manually.

As small as the Smart Fortwo is physically, it’s the exact opposite when it came to of all the attention it received driving around Sactown.  The car is a novelty that causes people to stop in their tracks, point, and take out their camera phones to snap pictures. Our praying rooting for the Fortwo to dig up enough torque and power to merge onto I-80 was graciously helped by all of the westbound moving traffic that suddenly slowed to curiously note two well dressed journalists crazy or brave enough to drive a dust mote onto the Capital City Freeway.

About the best thing the Smart Fortwo has going for it is its CO2 emissions. At 144 grams per mile, that’s about the weight of four and a half Oreo cookies and the least amount of any vehicle that scoots about using internal combustion. But here’s a better alternative to a Fortwo. Pick up a cell phone and call the person you were going to visit, unless you need to make a run to Costco. In that case, take some Oreos to snack on during your ten trips back and forth to cart your stuff home. Wonder how many grams of CO2 you’ll emit then.

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