James Delingpole on Smug Cars

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James Delingpole hate Smart Cars (Smug Cars) and the Toyota Prius (Pious).

His column in the Daily Mail explains.

All right. I admit it, I’m prejudiced. I hate Smart cars.

I’ve loathed them ever since I glimpsed the first ones, crawling along the streets of London — from 0 to 60 in about half an hour — some time in the mid Noughties.

The Smart car was the brainchild of Nicolas Hayek, the man who invented Swatch watches. His idea was for a small, fuel-efficient, environmentally friendly car that would be easy to park in small, city spaces.

The Swatch company started working with car giants Daimler-Benz in 1995 and the first of the new cars was shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1997.

The car’s makers boast that their vehicles — from exterior to seats, even the car battery — are 98 per cent recyclable, and each car is classified as an Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV).

They run on regular diesel or petrol, but are considered eco-friendly because they do around 70 miles to the gallon and their carbon emissions are low.

The truth, though, is that the Smart car — or Smug car, as it should really be known — masquerades as something modest, simple, practical and back-to-basics when, in fact, it’s just a poseur’s gimmick.

Driving a Smart car is the modern version of those horrid old back window stickers that used to say: ‘My other car is a Porsche.’

Except the difference is that if you have a Smart car, your other car probably is a Porsche.

Have a look at the price list and you’ll see what I mean.

These things aren’t manufactured for peanuts by some charming little yogurt-weaving collective in Wales.

They’re made in Germany by Daimler, with pricing to match.

Even the most basic, two-door model doesn’t leave you with much change out of £11,000.

They are a whole lot more here…and only shameless politicians would really be seen in them.

But we’re not really talking about real cars here, are we?

We’re talking something more akin to a jumped-up fairground bumper car. Or maybe a two-man motorised skateboard with a roof on it.

One that can’t travel very far without a refill — hence the need for that Porsche (or whatever) for those awkward, longer journeys which aren’t simply about popping from your mews house in Chelsea to Fortnum & Mason to stock up on caviar.

But this isn’t about inverted snobbery or class war, I promise. I’m all for rich people spending lots of money on luxury goods to boost the economy.

What I resent about Smart cars is that they’re neither a deliciously self-indulgent luxury nor an honest, horny-handed necessity.

Rather, they’re the embodiment of one of the grisliest new trends in this hideously shallow modern age of ours: the ecological boast.

Ecological boast goods are things you buy not because you really want them or you need them, but rather because they show the world how caring you are.

There are quite a few cars that fit into this category: the Prius (nicknamed the Pious), for example, which no sane person would go near if it weren’t for purposes of moral grandstanding because it’s so horribly tinny and uncomfortable.

Also in this category, of course, is any car that is electric.

These are another rich person’s toy: not least because it’s handy to have a town house with sufficient parking space in front for you to be able to recharge it through your window at night.

It’s no coincidence that Smart cars are now introducing an electric range.

All in all, it is as if we were being lectured: ‘Forget all that reactionary nonsense about striving to make your life ever more enjoyable and comfortable.

‘And, instead, strive to make yourself a better person by paying through the nose to ride in a vehicle about as spacious as the Black Hole of Calcutta and so flimsy that if you collide with anything bigger than a bicycle you will likely be squashed flat. After all, it’s not about you: it’s about saving the planet!’

Which, of course, precisely explains the insufferable arrogance of Smart car owners. The reason they think they can park wherever they can, regardless of the inconvenience caused to their fellow road-users, is because they genuinely believe they hold the moral high ground.


– Daily Mail


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  • Chris Chitens

    Video unavailable? You must use a VPN?

    • Wallace Westland

      It’s south park. The I.Q. police probably blocked it to save a few brain cells.

  • MrBarrington

    They are horrid little cars…. there is even a ‘sports’ version if you can believe it…

  • HSV325

    I wonder if Rodney Hide still has his one?

  • JC

    Hear hear. I’m now mostly retired and since the fuel crisis in the 1970s I’ve owned 2 Chrysler Valiants, a Holder family car, 5 Falcons/Fairmonts, and a thirsty Subaru for the back country grunt work.

    Now I have a Fairmont on one side of the house for me and the wife has a shopping basket on the other.. a stately 1996 Fairmont.


  • I.M Bach

    And look what happens when you fart in a Smart car.

  • RockinBob625

    Not a great one to have a ding in either. Try a Google image search, or reference this article.


  • xennex

    70 mpg? UK gallons I’d presume, at a constant speed. In the US the smart car gets a maximum of 38 mpg. It’s a joke – I have a full sized station wagon, with about 8 times the utility and volume, that gets 6 mpg more than the smart car (44 mpg). Even the humble Honda Civic does better.
    The ‘Ultra Low Emission Vehicle’ rating doesn’t mean anything – every car meets this standard. For example. 15 years ago the S2000 sports car was ULEV.

  • friardo

    Putting aside the strange hatred of electric vehicles for a moment, why is it that there are so many hybrid taxis? In the last few years most, maybe all of the taxis I have used have been hybrid Prius or Camry’s. They were quiet, comfortable and certainly didn’t hold up the traffic with slow acceleration. I recall one had done over 250,000 km too.

    They must stack up economically and with a bit of checking one finds that both have 5 star ANCAP safety ratings, do about 4 or 5 km/100k. Now those taxis are not bought so the drivers can feel smug, nor I suspect do most of the others sold. Some people just like quiet and smooth and reliable cars.

    There is certainly as much smugness displayed by a few owners of large tanks or grunt machines relating to how much fuel can smugly afford. But overall most people don’t buy a car to save the planet or the opposite.

    Hybrids are now good vehicles, Tesla will show the way to make good electric cars, at a guess, then everyone will drive them.