This is a very sensitive subject when talking about a car this small and especially this light. smart marketing has gone through some pretty rough times trying to convince buyers that this actually a pretty safe automobile, much safer than you'd expect just by looking at it. There were a lot of non-believers between our team members as well, with all the logic in the world telling us this can't be a very good place to be in the unfortunate case of an accident.
The first generation of the fortwo appeared in 1998, and apart from the different name (it was called the smart city coupe then), it was also using an earlier version of the almost indestructible "Tridion" safety cell, airbags, an anti-lock braking system and for the first time in a car as small as this, electronic stability control. We tested the latest model, part of the second generation, with an improved "Tridion" safety cell, which works its magic in three ways.
First of all, it's so stiff that's almost impossible to bend in a regular crash. Of course, we all know that cars need to decelerate slowly in order to protect their occupants, something that a rigid cell can't quite do. Hey, at least you'll have an open casket at your funeral. Second of all, since such a small vehicle can't possibly have enough crumple zones to help in the case of an accident, the Tridion safety cell is designed to activate other cars' crumple zones in order to protect the smart's occupants. Third, its shape is especially made to dissipate the energy of the impact around the passenger area, just like an egg shell, or a coconut. Of course, it is not designed to eventually crack like an Easter egg or a coconut in the hands of a thirsty monkey.Continue reading