Smart Cars Albert Lea MN
Hinkley Chevrolet Pontiac
150 3rd Street Northeast
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Mills Motor Inc
14858 Dellwood Drive
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Mills Ford Lincoln Mercury
14858 Dellwood Drive
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1600 Cannon Lane
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601 East Main Street
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c&c auto sales & repair
130 hwy 65
Towlerton Motor Company
1815 1st Avenue North
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Mills Ford and Lincoln and Mercury and Jeep of Wilmar
4100 Highway 71 South
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Wallys Auto Service
4511 Highway 53
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The Smart forTwo
Smart? Smarter! By David Vespremi, DriverSide Contributor
2008 Smart fortwo
Two of the most successful North American automotive brand launches in recent memory, Mini and Scion, both owe their success to a broad palate of customization options available to personalize these already attention-grabbing cars.
The West Coast’s car culture of treating the automobile as a blank canvas for self-expression has fueled an ongoing national fascination with tweaking out cars, as promoted in everything from MTV’s Pimp My Ride to the Warner Brothers Fast and the Furious movie franchise.
Still, it wasn’t until BMW and Toyota embraced the customization of their respective small car brands, Mini and Scion respectively, and actively sought out relationships with leading tuning houses that what formerly existed as a wink-and-a-nod relationship between auto manufacturers and a thriving cottage industry operating at arm’s length from the parent manufacturers blossomed into a truly symbiotic relationship.
The wheel and tire packages, suspension and performance engine upgrades for both BMW’s Mini brand and Toyota’s Scion brand established these diminutive market entries to be a similar personality extension to a teenager’s rhinestone encrusted cell phone or a starlet’s Hermes Birkin Bag and Chihuahua combo.
This then brings us to stuffy old Mercedes and their decidedly unstuffy microcar brand, Smart. The Smart ForTwo joins us here in the U.S. following more than ten years of sales in Europe and has clearly benefited from the timeliness of its introduction. Amidst record-setting gas prices and a growing popular aversion to the conspicuous consumption of natural resources, the Smart brand was clearly a well-timed market entry. Its initial sales success bodes well for Smart establishing the long-term staying power that Mini and Scion have both achieved.
Still, at launch both the Mini and Scion offerings had their novelty, too. What seemed to allow their stars to shine while those of similarly priced and equally fashionable offerings like the New Beetle and Dodge Neon faded, is that unlike the New Beetle and Neon, Minis and Scions responded especially well to enthusiast upgrades and proved to be capable platforms, able to accelerate faster, corner with more confidence, and look even better than they did when left unmolested. Just as a Mini or Scion owner began to feel a bit bored with their purchase and might otherwise have strayed to look for whatever the next flavor of the month might be, the aftermarket proved ready to deliver even more smiles for more miles.
This then brings us back to the Smart ForTwo. Its Euro-cool looks and miserly gas mileage, while certainly appealing, by no means establish it as a driver’s car. For one thing, its featherweight 1,800 pound curb weight and performance-ready rear-wheel drive configuration notwithstanding, the Smart is pokey on accelerat...
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