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By Al Haas, For The Inquirer
Posted: September 29, 2014

PARIS - On Avenue Montaigne, the heart of this city's fashion district, sits the Hotel Athénée, where rooms start at $1,820 a night.

On this particular sun-laved September afternoon, there was a Bugatti Veyron parked in front of the hotel entrance. The Bugatti is the fastest, most powerful production car on Earth. When equipped with the 1,200-horsepower, 16-cylinder engine, it will top 250 m.p.h. - and $2 million.

Parked nearby were five chauffeurs in white shirts and black German sedans, awaiting the return of their employers.

Sounds like rather upmarket turf, don't you think? But wait. Across the street from the Athénée, in front of Dior's flagship store, was a row of three parked smart fortwos, tiny two-seaters that start at $13,270 in our country. And there were two more just down the street, in front of the Giorgio Armani showroom. And just off Montaigne, on Rue Jean Goujon, I found six parked smart cars in a single block.

And I spotted a couple in front of the LVMH building, the headquarters of Bernard Arnaud's fashion empire, which includes Louis Vuitton, Dior, and Céline.

As it turns out, this tiny Mercedes-Benz vehicle is very popular in Paris. In fact, it's absolutely ubiquitous. And there's good reason for that. With its congested, often narrow, streets and its paucity of parking, Paris is the kind of town this city car was designed for. Only 106 inches long (a Toyota Camry is 189) and with a curb-to-curb turning radius of 28.7 feet (the Camry's is 36.7) the smart car is a very maneuverable urbanite. Its short length also means it can get into parking spaces too small for virtually anything else.

As beloved as it seems to be in Paris, the smart car has received a rather tepid welcome in this country. Mercedes sold 9,264 smart coupés and convertibles in the United States last year, which isn't exactly an eyebrow-arching number. Part of the reason is our national aversion to minicars. Only recently, and rather grudgingly, have we started buying relatively roomy compact cars in substantial numbers. But minicars? How many smart fortwos, Toyota IQs, and Chevy Sparks have you seen on the road?
:)

Smart car in a small package - Philly.com
 

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Michel Druker, probably one of the best known French TV personalities, has a Sunday show with eminent guests that his company ferries around either in limos or... smarts with chauffeur!
 

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We Americans need to get away from the "big is better" mode of thinking. Not only for our cars but our homes and cities as well. Spend more time together as families instead of each person having and being in there own space. Who knows maybe we'd have fewer kids with self esteem problems if they knew their parents and siblings wanted to spend time with them. End of soap box!

Small can not only be better but so much more fun.
 

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I see lots Chevy Spark's, and 500's all over here. The 500 is the most popular. Just a few older smart cars, and IQ's. Lots of Mini's too. Mini's and the 500's being the most fun to drive.

In North America the streets are large, gas is still cheap, there are plenty parking spaces. folks have large families, large homes with 3 car garages. Civic's, Fits Corolla's, Fiesta's small Kia's, and Hyundai, are the choice small cars here. Unless you live a crowded downtown city. Being single or a couple. There is really no need for a city car here. The crowded streets and gas prices of Europe they make sense.

I always get a kick out of smart owners, who have to pull a trailer, cause there's not enough room in there small car for cargo. The space they use, is a lot longer then a compact car. Whats up with that?

Actual, I been seeing a lot of Tesla's here. If you want to save on gas, and have the cash to own one.
 

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We Americans need to get away from the "big is better" mode of thinking. Not only for our cars but our homes and cities as well.

Small can not only be better but so much more fun.
+1
As the prime example, the E30 BMW 3 Series was (and still is) lauded for its superlative handling, steering and rwd. Subsequent chassis got bigger and bigger and bigger still until all the magic was deleted out entirely.

Here's to hoping the next fortwo after the 453 (455?) also stays the same length... And no more width:)
 
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