DaimlerChrysler's diminutive Smart was in the spotlight in Detroit, where DC bosses introduced it to US journalists and heralded its introduction to the US market, which is due to happen in 2008. It emerged that it is thanks to this stateside debut, and the demands of US crash regulations, that the second-generation Fortwo is a much safer car than the original.
The new Smart Fortwo has been engineered with US crash tests in mind from the start, and since it will only be sold in one form, UK buyers will also benefit from the work done.
A knee-pad has been built into the dashboard under the steering column, a US requirement to protect un-belted drivers. The new Smart is also bigger partly because of US crash regulations. The larger rear overhang has to resist a Federal rear-end shunt test.
To prevent UK drivers getting hurt by the more powerful airbag explosion needed to restrain unbelted occupants in the US, different tuning will tailor UK airbags to drivers and passenger wearing seltbelts. It'll be on sale on our side of the pond before US customers get their hands on it, too - in April this year