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Nicole Brodeur has been a Metro columnist at The Seattle Times since 1999. A New Jersey native, Brodeur has written for newspapers in California and North Carolina, and spent the best years of her life waitressing. She lives in Seattle with her 14-year-old son, needs to walk more, take the bus, stop microwaving tea water and consider turning her second car into a composting container.

May 10, 2007

Get Smart

Posted by Nicole Brodeur at 10:55 PM

"So," my friend asked. "You still driving that carbon-spewing machine?"

You mean the station wagon that drives like a sports car? Yes, sir, I am. But I'm not exactly loving it, now that I'm challenging my carbon output.

There's a way out of all this self-loathing, though, for me and anyone with $99.

At www.smartusa, you can reserve your very own, very dandy new 2008 Smart fortwo for $99 _ refundable at any time.

The cars start at under $12,000 for the smart fortwo pure, and for under $17,000 for the smart fortwo passion cabrio, a topless number with side roof bars that can be removed and stowed in a special compartment in the tailgate. Cool.

The pack quite a punch: Standard safety features "usually reserved for luxury vehicles," according to the site, along with something called the "protective 'tridion safety cell'." There's also an anti-lock braking system and four airbags.

I rode shotgun in one of these cars while in Paris last fall. The streets are full of them, buzzing along like little bees, and parked on the streets like dominoes.

You get inside and look around and wonder why you're driving your big honking car after all ... that American cars are like the pretty living rooms we never sit in.

And they're so small that I didn't realize that the 80-year-old man beside me had his hand on my knee for reasons other than fuel economy.

That put a whole different spin on "going green."

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May 2007

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