THE FIERCE criticism of the Smart car by Europe's auto enthusiast press is unreasonable. The Smart is a two-seat urban microcar with a wheelbase not much longer than a 3-wood. It is meant to dash through the congested cities of Europe. Measuring it against four-door sedans on country lanes is not fair.
But life is not fair. And the criticism won't go away. Daimler-Benz and Micro Compact Car engineers must solve the Smart's problems, not be drawn into a war of words.
The rough ride and difficult handling resulted, apparently, from last-minute changes intended to prevent the Smart from failing rollover tests. But now Daimler and MCC have a marketing problem.
Daimler-Benz's management of the A-class rollover crisis last year was generally good. Executives disagreed with A-class critics, but swung into action anyway.
They applied a lesson learned from the stubborn reaction of Audi to its own 'unintended acceleration' crisis of a decade earlier. The A-class regained its balance and its sales momentum. It can be the same for Smart. But once again the fixes must come from engineers and from some unplanned investment, not from a public debate.