Environmental Issue

Smart choice for local commuters

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 December, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 10 December, 2010, 12:00am

The Smart ForTwo has proven a chic commute and a stylish second or third car in Hong Kong. But the latest range reaffirms the hip marque's green-design credentials. Launched here last week, the latest ForTwos are fitted with a new generation of three-cylinder 61-horsepower and 71hp engines that consume 4.2 to 4.3 litres of petrol per 100 kilometres, and emit just 98 grams of carbon dioxide on combined runs, the marque says.

So no wonder the government has designated the new two-seater an 'environment-friendly petrol private car'. The basic ForTwo is the Pure (HK$99,000) that hits 100km/h in 16.7 seconds and has a top speed of 145km/h.

The larger-engined Pulse and Passion versions (HK$133,722) are three seconds faster in the sprint and promise 155km/h, while the similarly powered cabrio versions are HK$175,000.

The cheeky cars are city-friendly too. Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong says that the 2.695-metre-long, 1.752-metre-wide (with mirrors) ForTwo 'takes up an unrivalled amount of road and parking space' and could ease congestion. The marque backs its claims with research. Consultants Capita Symonds ran a field test that showed how London's roads would be less congested if more people drove Smart cars. The researchers set up a 2.2km circuit in Greenford Green, West London involving four sets of traffic lights, a roundabout and a priority junction, and found that 'three Smart ForTwos can pass through a set of lights in the same time as two average cars'.

The researchers also highlighted the value of a two-seater car in commutes. 'The average car occupancy for journeys to work in Britain is 1.2 persons and most commuters carry only minimal luggage,' the researchers say. 'In cars with four seats, this means that half the vehicle on commuter journeys is 'dead space'. With more families owning more than one car, it makes sense for one of these cars to have two seats rather than four.'

Mercedes-Benz took the Smart's message to London's City Hall.

'We've suggested to the mayor that he could improve traffic congestion in London by encouraging the use of space-efficient cars, like the Smart ForTwo,' says Mercedes-Benz, Britain, managing director Dermot Kelly.

'The ForTwo's exceptional fuel economy, reduced CO2 emissions and the fact you can park two Smarts in the space of one regular car, can only be positive news for the capital.'

And Hong Kong too.

The new ForTwo also has a new interior with extra stowage and the marque's latest entertainment system. The bodywork has been given a facelift with fresh 15-inch alloy wheel designs, seven colour choices and the Tridion cell can now be ordered in white. There is also a new 102hp Brabus Xclusive coupe (HK$214,00) and cabriolet (HK$238,000) that drinks 5.2l/100km for 119g/km of CO2.

These cars are a also lot more spacious than they seem. If you like the way the five-speed ForTwo drives, it might save you money and change the way you commute and park.