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EQUIPMENT

Small forms

AND “MERCEDES” TO “WISE MAN” NEVER

The Daimler-Chrysler alliance with Mitsubishi turned out to be extremely useful for … Smarta, the Swiss acquisition of the concern.

Alexey VOROBYEV-OBUKHOV

The idea of ​​a super-miniature city car was in the air for a long time and not only in the West. We also had attempts to create something similar (recall the “Squirrel” from US). But such is the sad fate of the inventors running ahead of time: until the proper conditions are ripe, their offspring is doomed to stand alone in an experimental garage or gather dust in drawings. Then, in the fifties, it was difficult to even imagine today's Moscow traffic jams.

Look around while standing at the next traffic light: one or two in five-seater cars go to work! For obvious reasons, Europe faced this problem much earlier and the convenience of a two-seater microcar as the second in the family was quickly appreciated.

Smart (Smart) from the workshops of a Swiss watch company came in handy and was soon tidied up by the giant Daimler-Chrysler, bringing at first … a headache. Either because of a lack of experience in the design of "small forms", or because of the unsuitability of the rear-engine layout for such a dwarf, in principle, but the "smarts" in the very first "selling" winter began to spin in a top on snowy roads and even an unprecedented case - stood up on their hind legs. Electronic specialists (changing mechanics in a serial design is too expensive) urgently developed a stabilization system, and the drawback was largely eliminated. Once again, shoppers crowded around the glass smart towers scattered across Europe to sell these amazing cars. Clubs of “Smarta” fans arose, who managed to put their favorite in the Guinness Book of Records last August: at a rally in Switzerland, the world's longest convoy of 681 cars was composed! By the end of 1999, the concern’s management was finally able to breathe a sigh of relief: the crisis was over. Smart has ceased to be unprofitable and has sharply gone uphill. The alarming red numbers in the reports gave way to calm blacks.

The leadership of the MCC (a subsidiary of Daimler-Chrysler) does not like to spread about the number of smart phones sold. According to "intelligence data", sales rose sharply (the first quarter of 2000 - about 34, 000 units, and a year ago over the same period - only 6, 500). In 2000, the company swung to release 120, 000 smarts, and taking into account new coupes and convertibles - all 140, 000.

But … Who stands still is behind. And therefore, the MSS has “enormous plans”: it is necessary to load an enterprise in Hamburg, designed to produce 200, 000 cars a year!

What awaits Smart fans in the near future? Firstly, the Smartster front-wheel drive roadster project, a competitor to FIAT-Barkett, Opel-Speedster and Mazda-MX5, has long been discussed. This is another 20, 000 units since 2003. There is an idea to lengthen the baby by half a meter and release again the front-wheel drive version of the 2 + 2 “Family Coupe”: at least it will be possible to take children along or, at worst, several bags with purchases. The base for it will serve as redesigned engines from the Mercedes A-class and a new, particularly economical 1.2-liter unit. From there, security systems will come. This option should add another 80, 000 cars since 2002.

So the conveyor in Hambakh will begin to work tirelessly, splashing more and more babies on the roads of Europe. Well, in Russia, Oka will be beyond competition for a long time: the price of Smart is ten times higher! So, even if he was three times faster, with air conditioning and other “gadgets”, it still will not become common with us.

Downloading one plant is only a minimum program. It’s planned for 2004 … Smart Van with five seats. Like all "adult" vanes, the salon will be easily transformed - for example, into a double bed, a cargo compartment or … a children's room on wheels!

But that is not all. It was decided to borrow the platform of future “smarts” from the newly acquired Mitsubishi partner. His “Pistakio” is quite drawn to this role. And with the economical engines with direct injection, the Japanese have long been seized! Moreover, it was decided not to be limited to the existing 1.1-liter GDI, but to expand the range down to 657 cmz with 50 or 67 “horses” in the turbocharged version. And this model is proposed to be unrolled by 2004 up to 250, 000 units at the Dutch factory NedKar purchased from Volvo! In the longer term, it will be possible to remake the concept car SUW (Smart Utility Wagon) into a Smart - not to be confused with SUV (Sport Utility Vehicle)! - from Mitsubishi, shown at the last show in Frankfurt.

Well, well, what should the real owners of Smart do, dissatisfied with the limited living space? Is it really possible to wait and save money for a new model, although there is not even a “speck of rust” on a plastic body? A stylized … Smart-Trailer trailer has been developed for them in Switzerland, increasing the length of the road train to 4.7 meters. Under its elegant plastic shell, an impressive cubic meter of usable volume!

A separate topic is the insecurity of the driver and passenger in a small car. Indeed, in Smart, for example, the length of the deformable zone is only 30 centimeters in front. Next is a tough cell lavishly covered with inflatable pillows. Nevertheless, in the standard crash test, the little one showed a quite worthy result - and this when hitting a crushproof concrete block. And what will happen if you crash into, say, the Mercedes S-Class? (It is assumed that there are no tough guys with shaved backs.) In this case, the “six hundredth” hood takes on the role of the “braking distance” and copes with it very successfully. Well, when hitting the back of the passengers of the future “Smart Van”, a special air bag mounted on the back door will save. By the way, this is the know-how of the concern. So - beware of all the pillars and trees!

And we will end with the words of Jürgen Schrepp, who recently became the “sole” head of the entire Daimler-Chrysler concern: Smart will henceforth be one of our most successful brands. ”That's it. No more and no less.

A store selling smarts works without counters, but with an elevator.

“Smartster” is the same as a roadster.

"Smart" -cabriolet is already on sale.

The four-seater version, if it comes out, is on the Pistakio platform.

“Family Coupe” - salon formula 2 + 2.

Smart Van with integrated bedroom.

Road train category "B".