The real question I get asked daily, is the Smart Care safe? In a nation filled with gas guzzling SUV’s, trucks and other massive machines how well can they hold up. Here is some information from Mercedes Benz about the Smart Car Safety information.
When I started researching the Mercedes Smart Car I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the Smart is actually a very safe car. In fact, the 2008 Smart ForTwo achieved the highest ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) for front and side crashworthiness.
What makes the Mercedes Smart Car safe?
The thing that makes the Mercedes Smart Car safe is the design element called the “tridion safety cell”. This is an egg-shaped aluminum safety cage with steel reinforcements, similar to what is used with racecars. The egg-shaped cage, along with the wheels at the corner, are designed to act like the hard shell around a nut to keep the passenger compartment safe. According to the Smart Car specs:
…the smart fortwo’s occupants are protected by a steel housing that combines longitudinal and transverse members that displace impact forces over a large area of the car. So it’s not about the amount of steel, but how that material will resist an impact. That’s what the tridion safety cell is all about.
What’s a crash box?
The Smart ForTwo is designed with steel bumpers at the front and rear that are bolted to the safety cell´s longitudinal beams via slip tubes. They can be replaced after minor collisions at low costs.
For parking lot bumps, an impact of less than 2 miles an hour won’t affect the crash box at all. Up to about 10 miles per hour, the slip tubes move to keep impact away from the tridion safety cell. Over 10 miles an hour, the tridion safety cell transmits impact over its entire surface to dissipate energy and protect its occupants (assuming a perpendicular impact involving the entire front width).
At the rear of the car, the crash box is also built of steel, which crumples much like the front slip tubes do. At an impact exceeding the severity threshold, the fuel supply to the engine is stopped and the central locking system is automatically unlocked.
Side impact strength
It’s easy to see that the Mercedes Smart Car is not a very long car. In fact, it’s about half as long as the standard midsize sedan. Contrary to what you might think, the fact that the Smart Car has such a short wheelbase actually adds to its safety.
The way it works is this: if you’re hit broadside in your Smart Car, chances are that the car hitting you will hit the wheels and tires of your car. Those wheels and tires are connected to either longitudinal structural members or axles that help to displace the crash energy. Each door also has a side brace installed.
The Mercedes Smart Car also has the most up-to-date airbags, hard-backed safety seats, skid control and electronic stability control features built in. If you’d like to see how these features work in a crash test with an S-Class Mercedes, check this German video clip.
Bottom line: Is the Mercedes Smart Car really safe?
When the Mercedes Smart Car was tested by NCAP (the European New Car Assessment Programme), it got a three star out of five safety rating. The Mercedes Smart Car Fortwo model was also crash tested against Canadian and US Department of Transport standards and it passed.