The Lost Symbol, by Dan Brown. Photo: Transworld Publishers.Enlarge Photo
We hardly need mention that The Lost Symbol, the long-awaited sequel to The Da Vinci Code, is now out and available at millions of bookstores and online for your reading pleasure.
We do feel compelled to point out, though, that Dan Brown doesn't know much about cars. Or at least about Smart cars. Specifically, the Smart ForTwo two-seat city car, launched in the States for 2008 but available in Europe since 1998. In chapter 32 of The Da Vinci Code, Brown writes:
The vehicle was easily the smallest car Langdon had ever seen. "SmartCar," she said. "A hundred kilometers to the liter."
Yes, well, where to begin? The proper name of the car is the Smart ForTwo or, if you use the manufacturer's typography, smart fortwo (sans capital letters).
And 100 kilometers per liter of gasoline? Nope. Not a hope in hell. That translates to 235 miles per gallon.
The U.S. version of the 2009 Smart ForTwo coupe is rated by the EPA at 33 mpg city / 41 mpg highway, for a combined rating of 36 mpg. Which is about 15 kilometers per liter, not 100.
Finally, Europeans don't use the measure "kilometers per liter," a nonlinear scale equivalent to our miles-per-gallon. They measure fuel consumption, expressed in liters per 100 kilometers. Europeans would express 36 mpg as 6.5 l/100 km.
But as Britain's Daily Telegraph notes in their wildly funny article on Brown's 20 worst sentences: "Pro tip: when fleeing from the police, take a moment to boast about your getaway vehicle’s fuel efficiency. And get it wrong by a factor of five."
It must have taken the author a lot of effort to cull that list to just 20.
About 24,000 cars are affected by the problemEnlarge Photo