The New Mini Cooper

Those teeny little smart cars that seat two people and look like they'd collapse like an accordian if you had a fender bender with a taxi? Despite plenty of criticism of Daimler's new Fortwo ("FOR-twoh")—"I felt I was in a car priced at about $10,000 and built in some Eastern European factory devoid of modern robotics," and "It feels a bit like a kit car, one my Dad and I might have built in the driveway," writes BusinessWeek—the model has been selling briskly. Between January and July of this year, Daimler has sold 13,958 of the eight-footers, which if you weighed them all, would still only equate to about four Hummers.

Obviously the big advantage with the Fortwo is that you can park just about anywhere, and with gas at $283 a gallon (more or less), you'll save some cash. (You'll also save on food, since you can't fit much more than a single grocery bag in the car.)

You won't, however, want to try going too fast. "The motor begins to sound like a Cuisinart chopping a crunchy clump of walnuts," writes Slate's Seth Stevenson. And don't expect it to be much of a chick magnet. When Stevenson tested the Fortwo, a teenage girl laughed and shouted, "It looks like a shopping cart!"

Are Smart Cars Daimler's Little Engines That Could? [Unbeige]