People love dogs. There is a reason why they are called man’s best friends. Nowadays we take them everywhere – we take them to short trips to park as well as invite them to homes of our friends or family. We rarely leave them behind going on vacation too. However, not all cars are suitable for long journeys with our four-legged friend. Not all of like big estate cars and not all dogs are strong enough to jump into those either. Now there is an answer to all of those problems.
German manufacturer of small cars Smart introduced readyspace seats for dogs in the new Smart Forfour. Using dog-friendly configuration entrance height can be lowered by twelve centimetres in a very short duration of time. It makes entrance much easier for older dogs or simply for those who have short legs. This feature was originally designed for the transportation of bulky items at the rear of the smart Forfour. But owners of this car quickly realised how handy this seating system for carrying their dogs.
Lowering seat base by 12 centimetres is also ideal for a dog basket or a rug to keep dog comfortable during the journey, which is further aided by standard vent windows that ensure fresh air for our companion. The cushions on these rear seats can be swiveled by 180 degrees, which means they remain clean and well-maintained despite transportation of a dog which might have had some fun in the mud.
Smart is really proud of these features, because they are pretty unique in automotive market, despite the fact that most of the dog owners would like to take their pet on a safe and easy journey. However, Smart was trying to make access to the car as easy as possible for everybody. For example, the rear doors of the Forfour can be opened by almost 90 degrees. Brand consulted vets to understand needs of dogs better. Vet Heike Lieberknecht said: “for small or older dogs in particular climbing into a car can often be very arduous. Lots of dogs particularly like sitting right behind their owner. The lower position means that all passengers are well protected, also in the event of hard braking or even an accident.”
However, it is important to stress that seatbelt is still critically important for the dog – simple rule is that the shorter the special dog seat belt, the safer. Dog’s seatbelt usually comes with a latch that can be put straight into the smart’s belt buckle. Dog crate will also fit perfectly in the space provided by the lowering seat base. All these features make smart forfour perfect for dog owners, who do not own several big dogs, because car unsurprisingly is pretty small. However, its size is actually its main advantage.
New smart forfour is extremely manoeuvrable. Brand says that is almost as agile as previous smart fortwo. Its ability to turn around virtually in any space can be translated into numbers – its statistics are 8.65 m (kerb to kerb) and 8.95 m (wall to wall). This allowed by innovative steering system as well as small dimensions that required to design car with great space efficiency. In fact, engineers had to develop the body space index (BSI) in order to precisely measure how efficiently space is used. It describes the ratio of interior to exterior length. Interior length in this formula is measured from the accelerator pedal in unused position along a horizontal line to the rear end.
The BSI now serves as a simple mean of comparison between different vehicles and surely enough smart Forfour attains a top rating for this criterion with BSI of 77%. Consequently, although this is a very small car, it has class-leading loading capacity. With the rear seat backrests folded down, cargo can have a footprint as big as 1285 x 996 mm and have a volume of up to 975 litres. With front passenger seat folded down, smart forfour can accommodate an item of even 2.22 metres, which is unheard of in such a small car.
In short, smart forfour really lives up to its name. It is good for passengers, it is good to carry relatively big items and it is friendly for our four-legged friends. We will have to wait and see if there will be more convenience in cars designed with pets in mind.