Pack up your parking troubles in a zippy Smart. The eye-catching two-seaters, which have been seen everywhere for the past nine months, are finally on sale in South Africa.Pack up your parking troubles in a zippy Smart. The eye-catching two-seaters, which have been seen everywhere for the past nine months, are finally on sale in South Africa.

Mercedes-Benz has brought in the Smart city-coupé & Pure, Smart city-coupé & Pulse, and Smart cabrio & Passion. They will be on sale at five Smart centres at: McCarthy Fountains, Pretoria; Cargo Edenvale; Sandown Village Close, Sandton; NMI-DSM Old Fort Road, Durban; Orbit Milnerton, Cape Town.

The Pure is the basic coupé version, while the Pulse comes with a glass roof with sun screen, "sportline" alloy wheels, front fog lights, leather steering wheel and gear knob.

The Passion is the cabriolet version. The electrically-operated folding top can be opened at the press of a button. The roof bars can also be removed and stowed in a compartment on the inside of the boot lid. The Passion has a fabric headlining, a lockable drawer under the driver’s seat and a remote roof opener as standard.

The Smarts are powered by a 698 cc, three-cylinder four-stroke turbocharged engine, weighing just 59 kg. The power output is 45 kW and it has torque of 95 N.m at 2 000 to 4 000 r/min. The engine is in the rear below a claimed luggage area of 260 litres capacity or up to 50 kg.

Mercedes says the top speed has been electronically limited to 135 km/h. Fuel consumption is claimed to be 4,7 litres per 100 km.

The vehicles have a sequential six-speed gearbox, with automatic gearing selection on the Pulse and Passion models. This function allows for automatic gear shifting and the driver can switch from manual shift mode to a fully automatic driving programme by pressing a button on the side of the gearlever.

The Pure has a softip gear change facility. The sequential six-speed transmission changes up and down automatically in response to a tap on the lever. When stationary, the Smart changes automatically into first gear.

An electronic stability programme (ESP) is standard. ESP includes hill ascend assist, brake assist and acceleration skid control.

The anti-lock braking system (ABS) including electronic brake-force distribution is integrated in the ESP. There are also dual front airbags, seatbelts and knee protection pads for the driver.

The safety features include the Tridion safety cell, which forms the basic structure of the vehicle. There are crumple zones around the Tridion safety cell and a crash box at the front of the vehicle.

In collisions at speeds up to 15 km/h, the components are designed to deform to protect the side members and floor-pan structure. The outer skin consists of flexible body panels made of coloured thermoplastic, which is recyclable. If damaged, these panels can be removed and replaced separately to avoid costly repairs. The crash box can be removed and replaced at low cost.

The panels are available in nine colours and can also be changed to customise the car. Mercedes says it takes less than 90 minutes to change one set of body panels. This costs R7 000, Mercedes points out that if a friend also has a Smart, the drivers can swop body panels for a different look and will only be charged for labour.

The vehicle is 2,5 m long, which means two Smarts can park next to each other in a single parking bay.

The lights and the radiator grille in the smart are located at different levels.

The main beam headlamp, with its round centrally mounted turn signals, has been moved up to locate it outside a potential impact zone. Integrated in the lower windscreen frame are two servicing grilles.

On the city-coupé, the swooping roof contour merges with a rear spoiler, which integrates a third stop lamp and a rear screen wiper. Located below the roof contour is a split tailgate whose window combines with the rear side windows. The tailgate can be opened automatically with a double-click of the car key. The rear screen folds upwards, while the tailgate door below it opens downwards.

Inside, the dashboard is fabric-covered. There is a semicircular multipurpose instrument cluster, which includes a petrol gauge on the left-hand side and a display for the coolant temperature on the right; it also tells the driver which gear is selected and when to change gear.

The Smart city-coupé & Pure come with a RDS radio, air-conditioning and an exterior temperature indicator, frost warning and electric windows as standard equipment. Smart enables the customer to individualise the vehicle by offering a vast range of interior accessories such as a rev counter, clock and ample colour-changeable elements.

A RDS radio is standard on the Pure, with a Bose sound system on the Pulse and Passion, while a six-disc CD player will be offered as an aftermarket option. Other aftermarket accessories include a cluster with fold-out trays for CDs, a smoker’s module comprising an ashtray and cigarette lighter, and a multifunctional drinks holder for bottles or cans.

The vehicles come with a two-year/unlimited distance warranty and six-year anti-corrosion warranty. Service intervals are 15 000 km or once a year.