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BBC Bristol Online > Features

Wednesday 3rd October 2001, 0900 BST
Trying to outsmart city parking
by Andy Macrow
smart car parked up

Driving around the city can be a frustrating process, but just wait till you try parking on its streets.

All too often it repeats its own annoying pattern.

You drive along, anxiously scanning for a slot in a solid line of parked cars, trying to find a space, all the time aware you are moving further away from your destination.

Then you find one, swinging towards the vacant space, the car strikes a stance
like a predatory beast guarding its kill.

Two feet into the space and the awful reality hits you, the car is too big for the prized vacant slot.

If I had a chainsaw, I could hack the boot off, trim away the front bumper to allow the car to fit, otherwise it's back into the traffic for more space-hunting.

Passing along a line of parked cars, I see two have managed to sneak into otherwise wasted spaces - bumpers facing towards the kerb, their tiny size means they fit within the unbroken line of parked cars.

a smart car shows its easy parking ability.    
Smart parking allows you to rewrite the rule-book on the streets.    

This is the smart car concept in practice, bringing a new approach to inner city traffic problems.

Smart car design is a paring down of car basics. Throw in some new technology to sweeten the mixture and there you have it - a car that's built to enjoy city life.

The smart people opted for a two-seat design because most commuter cars contain one person, so building a two-seater means you can appeal to this market and shave the car dimensions down quite radically.

Small size means small engines creating less weight, so you use less fuel and benefit from lower tax and cheaper insurance.

Giving the designers a free hand allowed the chance to have fun, with bright colours, detachable body panels, and
a radical but functional new interior.

OK, it looks different and appears to offer a new way of dealing with urban traffic, but who is behind the MCC group which make the smart?

side veiw of smart car    
Less is more at least in this case, smaller than most other cars on the road, the smart car packs in safety and design features that leave others behind.    

Mercedes-Benz provided the engineering expertise. They in turn are owned by the American company Chrysler, who are one of the giants of the motor world.

So it looks smart and trendy and has a good pedigree
but what is it like to drive one?

Next smartcar feature
>> Driving smartly about town -
How easy is the Smartcar to drive?

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Find out more about the Smartcar - more BBC Bristol Online features:

Trying to outsmart city parking

Driving smartly about town

Being a smart owner
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The smart co uk
The smart club
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