In The Da Vinci Code, Sophie and Langdon escape from the Louvre in Sophie’s red two-seater SmartCar.
The smart fortwo is not a car you see much of in Australia, but is very popular with single city dwellers in Japan, Europe and the UK. Mercede-Benz say it will be commercially available in the USA in summer 2006, although Zap have an Americanised version on sale. The American safety tests are making the sale of the vehicle difficult in the USA. Canada has had a diesel-powered version since 2004.
Its 3-cylinder motor is in the back of the vehicle, and it is only two and a half metres long. I wondered if it would be capable of the manoeuvres Sophie puts it through to escape the police. The manufacturers say it has been electronically limited to yield a top speed of 85mph, so maybe it is. However, Sophie is a bit sloppy with her converting miles/gallon into km/litre. She says it does 100km to the litre, but the best it will do is about 100km on 4 litres. The experts claim it will do up to 60mpg.
The smartcar was designed by the people who produced Swatch watches, but manufactured since 1998 in Smartville, a purpose-built factory complex in Hambach, France, by Daimler-Benz. It’s now being produced by smart GmbH, a subsidiary of DaimlerChrysler. It is marketed as a petrol-powered car which is ecology-friendly. In 2004, The Guardian rated it as number 7 on its list of green cars.