• fb_1559222512 avatar Xiaolong Posted: 9/13/2012 1:46pm PDT

    3.5 ton of "stable weight". What happens when that 3.5 ton moves at a speed of 20 mph?

    An empty coke can hold up almost 20 lbs of book evenly distributely with no problem. But as soon as you crumble just a tight bit of its side, it will crumple under the 20 lbs of weight...

    Samething here.

    Crashing into a fix wall at 70mph only have to absorb your own energy. But a head on collision against a 3 ton SUV will mean that Smart would have absorbe SUV's energy...

  • fb_1001015277 avatar John Posted: 9/13/2012 2:28pm PDT

    Small critic there. The head-on collision doesn't mean you have to absorb the SUV's energy. The SUV will push you backwards.

    I think the more risky situation is to be crushed between an SUV and a concrete abutment.

    However, the SUV collision is only one possible crash situation. If the crash situation is a single car accident, the SMART is probably nearly as safe as the SUV.

  • fb_61206378 avatar Antony Posted: 9/14/2012 12:20am PDT

    I seem to recall Mythbusters doing a car vs. car and car vs. wall crash test and finding that even at double the closing speed (i.e. 70mph against a wall, but 140mph closing speed with cars heading toward each other) the damage to the car was no greater. Each car absorbs some of the other's energy, while the wall in the test had very little give.

    The smart is a short vehicle and would likely be bounced to some extent by the larger, heavier vehicle, so I can't see an accident with an SUV being appreciably worse than one against a concrete wall.

    Of course, my preferred option is to avoid crashing entirely. I can't imagine what life is like being terrified of driving small cars due to something that might not happen.

  • CPPCrispy avatar CPPCrispy Posted: 9/13/2012 1:28pm PDT

    When I look at Smart, the first concern that comes to mind is what would happen in a hard break situation. The wheel base looks to short for it to be stable in a quick deceleration situation. I feel that it could roll over like a bicycle does when you break to quickly.

  • getagrip42 avatar getagrip42 Posted: 9/15/2012 11:41am PDT

    I am a 2008 fortwo owner and I had to test its braking behavior the day after I picked it up. A deer jumped the guardrail right in front of me on a narrow WV mountain road at night while I was doing about 35-40 mph. I hit the brakes as I hard as I could and the smart scrubbed off speed amazingly fast in a panic braking situation and stayed perfectly straight. Because the deer was so close, I still hit it, but the damage was minimal to the car. The plastic panels absorbed the impact well and they were just shoved back on their mounting points. I loosened the fasteners and they went back into position. The driver's side headlight was not salvageable, but I just replaced that myself. Bottom line: braking is a non issue in my experience.

  • getagrip42 avatar getagrip42 Posted: 9/15/2012 11:46am PDT

    Oh, and the emergency flashers came on automatically after everything was over. A nice touch in case there was someone coming up behind. The deer took a major whollop, but managed to get up and keep going. I'm not sure if it survived any internal injuries, but it wasn't killed on the spot.

    I've since tested the brakes in other situations over the last 60K miles and can attest to their abilities.

  • fb_61206378 avatar Antony Posted: 9/14/2012 12:28am PDT

    A few things prevent that from happening. The first is that the heaviest object in the car - the engine - is positioned fairly low down and right at the back of the chassis. You'd need an extraordinary amount of leverage generated by braking to shift that mass up and over.

    The second is that the front tires are quite narrow, limiting the amount of braking force that can be applied to the road to stop a relatively heavy object that wants to continue going forward.

    The third is that modern safety features such as ABS, brake force distribution and stability control work together to prevent braking instability. You're right in thinking that such a shape would be unstable next to longer, wider vehicles, but rolling forward isn't possible.

  • fb_2516851 avatar Kurt Posted: 9/13/2012 11:28am PDT

    In that Fifth Gear episode, I they also crashed an early 1990's Ford Fiesta which hardly came out worse than the Smart.

  • fb_1001015277 avatar John Posted: 9/13/2012 9:47am PDT

    Saw a similar image the other day with a Toyota Highlander on top of some compact car. The compact car was hardly damaged at all.

  • fb_1001015277 avatar John Posted: 9/13/2012 5:07am PDT

    Love that it says "Not a dramatization".

    Wonder what the red paint indicates.

  • fb_61206378 avatar Antony Posted: 9/13/2012 11:43am PDT

    I *think* - but don't quote me on this - that the red paint highlights the areas which are dedicated crumple structures.

  • fb_1001015277 avatar John Posted: 9/13/2012 2:24pm PDT

    Hmmm, there is red paint on part of the A-pillar. I wouldn't think that would be a crumple zone.

  • fb_61206378 avatar Antony Posted: 9/14/2012 12:13am PDT

    Ah, well spotted. In that case I'm not sure, but I'll try and find out.