• Apr 3rd 2008 at 3:00PM
  • 61
Click above to view video of the 2008 smart fortwo crash test

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently conducted crash tests for the 2008 smart fortwo. Anyone who has laid on the tiny two-seater will probably tell you that safety is a major concern considering that the average vehicle size in the U.S. is much larger than in the fortwo's native European market, and the thought of being in one that's sideswiped by a Suburban is not pleasant. Daimler was confident that the fortwo would perform well in federal crash tests, and it actually did earning four stars in the front crash test for both the driver and passenger and five stars in the side crash test, the highest number the federal agency gives. During the side test, however, the driver door opened, which the NHTSA cites as a safety concern. If the door of a vehicle opens during a crash, the chance that a passenger could be flung from the car is obviously higher. After watching the videos of both crash tests (check 'em out after the jump), we're actually impressed with how well the fortwo handles blunt impact trauma thanks to its safety cell. Being as small and lightweight as it is, however, the car surrenders to inertia and quickly heads the opposite way when struck. Thanks for the tip, Noel!

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      I think that the Smart would simply bounce off whatever hits it, which is not something that would happen with a 4000 lbs car. Take a look at the videos....it rebounds quite a bit more compared to other cars. Weather thats a safety advantage or a potential deathtrap remains to be seen....also, they should test the car for rear end impacts as well, cuz we all know that if FLOORING the accelerator gets it to 60 in 14.4 secs, then Grandma Sunday just got herself a new weapon....maybe people won't cross-country over the interstates too often, but this is slow even for an afternoon drive....

      People here need to understand that in Europe where this car is sold has far more secure driving environments. Here in Dragstrip, USA things can get a little ugly.

      Oh and they need to figure out how to keep that door shut.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I don't care how strong the structure is, the problem is the quick change of direction that slams your brain into the insides of your skull, and screws up your neck. THAT is the problem. They can build it as strong as they want, but ultimately it's still just like 'jumping up' in an elevator right before it smashes into the ground.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Uhm, that is exactly what is measured in these tests, and where the Smart did exceptionally well.
        This blog entry is about a crash test where the car got a 5 star rating on side impact and 4 stars frontal. And the accompanying headline is "safety concern"? Is this supposed to be deliberately misleading or plain stupid?
        • 7 Years Ago
        Jason, ... please don't be stupid. You say you'll enjoy your lexus, which is safe, because it doesn't weigh nothing like the smart. That was my argument. If you are in a car that weighs nothing, no matter how strong it is, it is NOT going to be safe. Why? Lack of crumple zones, and no inertia. If a big heavy vehicle hits you, you are going to change directions INSTANTLY, which will result in neck trauma or brain damage. A heavier, bigger car would absorb more energy, which would slow the transition in speeds, which lessens the probability of something like that happening.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Wait, you mean that doesn't work?
      • 7 Years Ago
      I want to see the Smart do the same test that a 2CV and Mondeo were subjected to...passing behind a jetliner throttled up..I think the 2CV fared better than the Mondeo in that the roof structure was still intact. That being said, I never want to be struck from the side in my 2CV! Ouch! Hmm, what about a 2CV/Smart collision? haha
      • 7 Years Ago
      So NHSTA has discovered ( and claim exclusive knowledge? ) of physics? Wow. My third grade science book states that an object of 2x mass colliding with another object of 1x mass will cause the lighter object to change its path.

      I will gladly take my chances in the Smart, and I suspect when gas hits $5.00+ a gallon those "heavier" cars will be parked on the side of the road, abandon by their owners.

      But hey, crash results and the language used to described them are up for bid, right? Exxon, I am looking over at your lobbyists...
        • 7 Years Ago
        Acceleration Times Again...

        Car and Driver, are a bunch of guys who'd rather be driving a Corvette, then Any Other Car. Naturally, They are going to Bitch about 0-60 in 14.4.

        A Zero to 60 test is where you put your foot too the FLOOR and KEEP it There.

        Here's my problem. Most of youse guys don't EVER run your cars this way. Most of youse guys are AFRAID to press the pedal down more then 25% because after that the Engine start to Make NOISE. If you FLOOR IT it starts to SCREAM. Once that happens you take your foot off the pedal A.S.A.P.

        So, Stop giving me this SH*T about 0-60 in 14.4.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Car & Driver tested the Smart Fortwo in their latest issue and their overall mileage was 32MPG. 0-60 was 14.4 seconds and the Qtr. mile buzzed by in 19.9 seconds! No thanks!!

        Other than some urban drivers, I don't see this thing making much sense for most Americans even if gas costs go up to your $5 mark. I would much rather drive a compact car which will not only feel huge compared to the Smart Fortwo, but have mileage numbers that while not quite as good as the Smart are at least in the ballpark. And a compact will cost only a few grand more as well.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I'm Shocked!! It's the size of my kids go-cart and doesn't stand a chance in a collision with an SUV. I don't care how energy absorbant the frame is. I saw one on 76 the other day in Philly and thought 'Good luck, buddy, if you get hit by something like my Pilot'
        • 7 Years Ago
        do you also say goodluck to motorcyclists too?
        • 7 Years Ago
        That would apply to someone in a Civic, Corolla and possibly an Accord. It'd apply to you in your Pilot if you were struck by a heavy-duty truck or a semi.

        Of course, people don't get in accidents that often. Mind you, this is America, where nitwit Bible-belt farmers are sure Abdul al Terrorista is going to bomb their cornfield any day now. Fear rules the day in this country.

        On a related note, I saw a collision between a Corolla and a GMC Sierra today. The Sierra ran a light, struck the Corolla, spun, flipped over and ended up on it's roof. The front of the Corolla was destroyed (it was spun around pretty violently) but the passengers were ok. The Sierra's driver was strapped to a gurney and taken into an ambulance. If he's been driving a smaller, lighter car he would have probably been ok. His truck was probably in better shape than the Corolla, but he certainly wasn't.

        So much for mass. If it were me, I'd be driving something agile, low to the ground and stuffed to the gills with airbags.
      • 7 Years Ago
      So long as they aren't hogging the left lane what is your beef?
      I will tell you this though...when you own a car with under 90hp you don't worry about roadrage...you wouldn't think of flipping anyone off as you can never escape them! LOL
      Still, i'll pass on the Smart. At least my 2CV has four seats and a trunk...and over 40mpg.
      • 7 Years Ago
      NHTSA Crash-Test Ratings*
      2008 Ford F-150
      Front, Passenger's 5 stars
      Front, Driver's 5 stars
      Other, Rollover Resistance 4 stars

      Smart only missed out of tying a full size truck in safety? Why are you so disappointed?
      • 7 Years Ago
      Disclaimer: I got my smart about two and a half weeks ago, and I'm quite happy with it.

      Seems like so many people just don't get it. Crash protection is not all voodoo, there can be a great deal of science and engineering in it.

      Mass does not necessarily equal safety. There's a heck of a lot more to it than that.

      The smart is a very current implementation of advanced structural engineering. Even many other cars that are currently available did not use the same levels of safety engineering in their design.

      When discussing a smart versus a loaded 18-wheeler, do you really think you'd be that much safer in a Chevy Cobalt? A Civic? A Yaris? Even an Accord/Camry/Malibu/Altima?

      When discussing choosing another small car instead, why not a Chevy Aveo or the little Kia, in addition to the Fit or Yaris? Many people don't choose cars strictly on interior volume/price/fuel economy. If they did, the Pontiac Aztek would have been successful, and BMW would not.

      I just spent a day in a Yaris sedan. There is no way I'd be happy living with that driving experience. Numb steering, brake pedal that feels like stepping on a feather pillow, transmission that gives as little clue as possible about what it's doing, not to mention the crazy instrument-panel-in-the-center-of-the-dash thing. What's so safe about having to change your visual focus that much just to check your speedometer?

      Everybody wants a different mix of things from their vehicles. That's great, because it gives us choices from a Yaris to an Audi R8 to a Hummer H2 SUT to a smart fortwo to an old beater Taurus to a Harley Davidson.

      If I had the money (especially to cover the necessary extended warranty), I'd be in a brand new Mercedes-Benz SL 550, or maybe an SL63. But I don't, so I ain't.

      For what I want from a vehicle, and for what I want to spend, I chose a smart. So far, I'm more than satisfied with my choice.

      • 7 Years Ago
      It is very funny how so many posters are reacting as if their mom is going to make them drive a Smart now, or that it's the automotive equivalent of cheap cough syrup...ha ha "but mooooom!"
        • 7 Years Ago
        Hit the nail on the ole noggin there, Brad.
      • 7 Years Ago
      BTW, Mr. Oak - this is the F-150 crash test that I believe you were referencing in your post (hint: bigger isn't always safer)


      -- DavidV :D
        • 7 Years Ago
        Can we stop drawing extreme conclusions based on some old video bits?

        For those that insist on crash test ratings, the 2007 F150 has a five star crash test rating.

        Size does matter. We're not running around hitting unmovable objects. If we do, lighter vehicles will tend to do better than heavier vehicles (less mass to stop). At the same time, larger vehicles will tend to have better crumple zones. Depending on design, it can be a wash.

        If we're hitting movable object, large vehicles have a significant advantage. If a Smart and a F150 hit head on, the F150 will shove the Smart backwards. The Smart will have a negative stopping distance. The F150 will have a much longer distance to stop.

        Yes, the F150 would have similar problems against a semi. The key is that the F150 has significant advantages over the average vehicle on the road while the Smart has significant disadvantages vs the average vehicle on the road.

        Motorcycles are screwed.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Ouch! That dummy looked dead for sure!

        Why does the F-150 crumble apart like that? Sheesh! Maybe it's easier to make a small egg-shaped car strong vs. a big truck.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Actually, that's exactly it.

        A unibody frame is inherently safer than body-on-frame. It's not a rule, and it's hampered by the fact that BoF vehicles are usually designed quite crudely, but comparing the crash safety of the Taurus to the Crown Vic should be an eye-opener to anyone who thinks BoF is safer.
        • 7 Years Ago
        @ psarhjinian - You make an excellent point regarding BOF vs. unibody. Take for example, the IIHS dynamic side impact test. In this test, results are comparable ACROSS weight classes, as opposed to the IIHS frontal offset which is not.

        In this particular test, the BOF Crown Vic, at 4,074 lbs can manage only "Marginal" overall rating, and a "Poor" for Lower body injuries. The unibody Toyota Yaris with optional curtain airbags and at 2,379 lbs not only achieves a better structural rating, but receives "Good" across the board on injury measures and a "Good" overall rating.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I know it sounds bad on paper, but for those of you harping about the 0-60 times you are clueless till you have driven one.

      I picked up my car in January and have been commuting in it nearly every day. The car never feels slow on both the highway and city street. I tend to be a slightly "assertive" driver and typically lead the pack on city streets and on the highway frequently use the left lane (for passing), merging is not a problem.

      All this while under the 4500 rpm max for break-in period.

      Am I going to win a race against another car? - no. Does the car feel slow or inadequate? - not in the slightest.

      • 7 Years Ago
      The star ratings are for idiots, and you cant compare a 4 star truck to a 4 star car... weight class people.

      Look at the loads placed on the passengers, the lower the better. I looked up the smart and 2 suburbans a 2008 and a 2004. I was surprised by what I found.

      Head Injury Criterion 531 644
      Chest deceleration (g's) 55 59
      Femur load l/r1 (lb) 1282 / 1461 921 / 536

      Side Crash

      Front Seat
      Head Injury Criterion2 (HIC) 347
      Thoracic Trauma Index (TTI) 57
      Pelvis Deceleration (g's) 69

      2008 Suburnban


      Head Injury Criterion 321 282
      Chest deceleration (g's) 28 36
      Femur load l/r1 (lb) 665 / 761 598 / 357

      Side Crash
      Front Seat
      Rear Seat
      Head Injury Criterion2 (HIC) 55 62
      Thoracic Trauma Index (TTI) 31 15
      Pelvis Deceleration (g's) 37 20

      The loads and accelerations the people in the suburban are about half those the folks in the smart are exposed to

      2004 suburban


      Head Injury Criterion 632 903
      Chest deceleration (g's) 49 52
      Femur load l/r1 (lb) 1171 / 2079 1317 / 1156
      View Frontal Test

      Check that out.
      of the 3 vehicles the 2008 suburban has the lowest numbers, but in some cases the smart has lower numbers than the 2004 suburban.

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