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John Carson

Smart Fortwo Winter Expedition

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Is this put on officially by smart? The fonts on the vinyl on the cars and the fact that it's a "fleet" would suggest this :)-Iain

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Those are cars supplied by smart for sure.... awesome little trek. Hmm......... I think I have a cdi in mind for the trip.

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JoAnne Caza from head office is involved too.

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Well, hard as it may be to believe, they're here. Saw them pulling in to the Skky (yes its spelled that way) Hotel by the Whitehorse airport as I came back from Atlin tonight. So I stopped to say hi. Met Marcus Brietschwerdt. Nice man. Told him MB made a big mistake not providing a shop manual for guys like me that have to do our own maintenance. Seems there might be one available if one reads German.I have to admit I was surprised. I really thought this Inuvik tour was somebody's wishful thinking. Granted, they had quite the support team including an MB Hummer-equivalent, but I give them A+ for follow through.Its hard not to compare with the Bentley Owners tour last summer. Their chase car was a diesel Smart.Carl

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Met Marcus Brietschwerdt. Nice man.

Oh that's cool! Good on them for sending him along, I got to meet him and Uli Walker a few years ago in Toronto at one of the dealerships. Seemed really eager to know our thoughts, really open minded guy and kind, like you say.-Iain

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Burnaby NewsLeader

TEST DRIVE: Kelowna to Whitehorse in a smart car

WHITEHORSE, Yukon: This is the story about the little car that could.

Press launches of new vehicles are the lifeblood of auto journalism. Normally, the car companies pick scenic locations and roads that put their new offerings in the best light.

Because it takes time to get to these locations, it means actual driving time can be as brief as two hours, hardly a lot of time on which to base lasting impressions.

So when Mercedes-Benz called up to propose a drive in the dead of winter over 15 days from Kelowna to the Artic Circle and finishing in Vancouver, I was intrigued.

The event would be split into three legs: Kelowna to Whitehorse, Whitehorse to Inuvik (68∞ 22' North) and back to Whitehorse and finally Whitehorse to Vancouver. I was assigned to Leg One with a total distance of 2,480 km.

It would mean four days of driving about 500-700 km a day with no cellphone, sketchy internet and no radio.

And to get there Mercedes wasn't using its selection of robust SUVs or even its sedans with 4Matic all-wheel-drive.

No, they wanted to do this in smart cars.

I will say right here that a smart is probably the last car I would pick to drive to Sudbury in the winter let alone to the Arctic Circle.

I mean at 1,069 kg it weights the same as the Wood Bison we passed on the road in the Northern Rocky Mountains.

Like a lot of people, I think of the smart as a very "smart" choice for inter urban driving. It has a three-cylinder engine of just 999 cc displacement that gets remarkable fuel economy of 5.9/4.8/5.4L/100 km city/highway/combined.

But with 70 hp and 68 lb/ft of torque, it doesn't sound like much to climb up and over the Canadian Rockies.

Now Mercedes-Benz is nothing if not thorough so they were confident it could be done. In fact, Mercedes Canada has wanted to do this since the smart was launched here in 2005 but couldn't because they were selling more smarts then they could bring in.

Another thing they did was to bring in Danny Kok and his British Columbia-based Driving Unlimited team who specialize in this kind of event.

It was two drivers to a car and we were told to pack for winter conditions. All luggage was to be stored in the smart car trunk. There would be no trying to put bags in a support vehicle.

With a cargo volume of 220 litres (340 litres up to the roof), my co-driver and I stuffed in two bags each, big winter boots and, most of the time, our coats. It all fit with just enough space to see out the back with the rearview mirror.

Except for snow tires that Continental makes expressly for the smart, the cars were box stock "passion" coupes priced at $18,250 not including optional heated seats and an upgraded stereo.

So to Kelowna I went fascinated by the brashness of it all, and I admit, a bit of trepidation.

Why trepidation? When you think about, the smart has a track of 1,385 mm and wheelbase of 1,867 mm making for a tire spread about the size of the corners of a dining room table. The shorter the wheelbase, the quicker you can turn - or spin.

But smart has an answer for that in a brace of driver aids like electronic stability control with hill start assist, anti-lock brakes and Brake Assist which consumers can get with pretty well any car these days. But smart goes several steps better.

For starters, the engine is located over the rear wheels which plants the driving wheels firmly on the ground.

Next, acceleration Skid Control (ASC) uses sensors to gauge wheel slip and directs torque to another wheel for more traction. Then there is Cornering Brake Control (CBC). Going into a corner, the system detects varying load to the wheels and then distributes braking force where it can be most effective.

One of the journalists on my leg, who is also an experienced race driver, said he tried everything to make the smart spin, even hand brake turns, but he swore to me the smart snapped back into the straight and normal every time.

Readers in British Columbia will understand the distances involved but for Ontario readers the fourth day's journey from Muncho Lake to Whitehorse was 710 km or Toronto to 100 km shy of Quebec City. The difference here is there are no handy rest stops and just a handful of gas stations open outside the major towns along the way. Going for two hours straight with no place to stop was common.

You learn to visit the washroom before you leave and check the fuel gauge.

Salt is not used on the roads. Sand mixed with gravel and steady plowing is used, and as I found out, it is very effective.

On these drives we were in a convoy averaging about 80-100 km/h, and there were ice patches on the road. To my amazement, I did not have to tippy-toe along because the ESP, CBC and ASC more or less had the smart planted to the road. I saw the traction control light come on a few times but that was it.

Only once did I have a little drama and that was rounding a curve when the front tire went into a rut probably caused by a snowplow. Because the front tire is skinny, it dropped into the rut and started pulling into the snow bank.

Lessons I learned at winter driving schools paid off and I contra-steered while the CBC worked its magic. I brushed the snow bank but was out of danger in a flash.

If it had been my minivan at home, the van would probably still be back there in the snow bank. The lesson here is to make sure you and every one of your family takes a winter driving course.

I won't say it was like a vacation car trip, but the scenery was spectacular with mountains, countless lakes and herds of Wood Bison and even Caribou foraging along the sides of the Alaska Highway portion of our drive.

At the summit of one of the Northern Rockies, we all stopped at a pullout for a photo op. The temperature was -15 Celsius but with snow falling gently down, it looked like the set of a Hollywood movie. All I was wearing was a turtleneck sweater and I didn't feel the least bit cold.

When we did hit any town, it was like pulling into a Toronto suburb with Shopper's Drug Mart, Canadian Tire, Boston Pizza, even an East Side Mario's.

After handing off the cars to the second-leg journalists, I checked into the hotel and then walked back out to take one last look at the little steed that had carried me all those miles.

Caked with road grim and sporting at least four stone chips in the windshield, which you can't escape because of the road sanding, it still looked cute and chipper and raring to go.

And I guess I was like a lot of people in thinking the smart car is not much more an inner city runabout. In that, I was wrong.

It very much proved to be the little car that could - and did.

...........................

Source

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Nice except for the "artic" spelling error!

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CBC News

February 3, 2010

Smart cars survive Arctic test

Seven Smart cars survived an Arctic challenge this week, having driven on the Dempster Highway from Inuvik, N.W.T., through the Yukon.

Automotive journalists who were recruited to test drive the Smart fortwo coupes stopped in Whitehorse on Tuesday, and are now en route to Vancouver.

The tour through the notoriously rough Arctic highway was sponsored by Mercedes-Benz, the car company that sells Smart cars in Canada.

"The goal of the whole event, if you will, is to show that the Smart fortwo can tackle pretty much some of the harshest winter driving conditions imaginable in our country," Matt St-Pierre, a Montreal-based writer with Auto123.com, told CBC News on Wednesday.

St-Pierre and the other journalists who tested the Smart cars began their journey last week from Kelowna, B.C., driving up the Alaska Highway to Whitehorse, then north to Dawson City and along the Dempster to Inuvik before turning back for the return trip to Vancouver.

Road conditions rough

Surprisingly, the weather was relatively mild — St-Pierre said the coldest temperature he experienced on the road was –23 C.

"[Around] –40 C would have been a real, real winter test, but the road conditions were pretty awful in some points — the blowing snow, the snowdrifts," he said.

"The car still had to tackle many obstacles that it would probably never really have to go through in any type of urban setting."

St-Pierre said other than cramped quarters — he, his co-driver and their gear were packed in the vehicle — the Smart car performed well on the Dempster.

"I was, like, cheering on the Smart because we had conquered the Dempster," he said. "It was something else."

''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''

Source with comments.

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The 7 smarts and 3 support vehicles will be arriving in Vancouver tomorrow, Saturday Feb. 6th. The terminus of the trip to Inuvik, N.W.T. which started in Kelowna, B.C.

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I saw them this afternoon when they arrived in Prince George at about 4 pm. I wonder why it took them 8 hours to drive from Fort St. John - it's normally a 4.5 to 5 hour drive.

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I would so love to know which dealer they are arriving at... I presume they will leave PG in the am?

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Seems facebook and twitter get all the action these days.... and no mention on thesmart.caWell... I'm still really impressed. Those facebook photos of the tour are great.

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I would so love to know which dealer they are arriving at... I presume they will leave PG in the am?

Would have been great fun to escort them back with 50 or so club members

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For sure, wish I'd know of this a bit sooner. Still trying to see when tomorrow's arrival is.

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smartusa seems to be much more interested in being inclusive in is way, sponsoring and encouraging smart owners.I don't feel the same owner support in Canada. I mean, they left from Kelowna for dog sakes and the sizeable smart community here heard nothing. B :sun:

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For sure, wish I'd know of this a bit sooner. Still trying to see when tomorrow's arrival is.

From their facebook page:

Making the monumental drive into Vancouver tomorrow. Come welcome us like the torch relay at Mercedes-Benz North Vancouver between 4:30 and 5:30pm

Got this message a moment ago!

Hi Bil, we will be coming in on Highway 1, maybe some of you want to follow along with us for a few Km's as we make our way to the dealership. We will have lots of stories and photos

Edited by bilgladstone

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Mercedes-Benz North Vancouver - 1375 Marine Drive in North Vancouver. Tell everyone in the smart club! Everyone is welcome

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Regretably I will miss it, but you all have fun!

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