Smart Car Ad Wows and Underwhelms with Crushing Weight on Top

Courtesy Mercedes-Benz USA(NEW YORK) -- What do you get when you put a 7,000 pound SUV on top of the frame of a sub-2,000 pound two-person Smart car?

Apparently nothing, according to a new ad by the Smart brand of cars.  The ad highlights Smart's "Tridion" safety cell and shows the tiny two-passenger car's frame subjected to the much greater weight of an SUV.

"Small on size, big on safety," states the ad for the car that has been inundating cable channels like CNBC.  The ads seem to suggest that the pint-sized car, less than half the size of America's full-sized sedans, has extraordinary safety features despite its size.

The company said there was no photoshop magic for the ad.

A behind-the-scenes YouTube clip shows a forklift hoisting the Ford Expedition, which weighs 7,000 pounds, on top of the Smart car's frame.  In the ad, the Smart car is unbowed by the weight.

Gabriel Shenhar, senior engineer and program manager with Consumer Reports said the ad provided a "good visual," but there's "nothing unusual" about the Smart car's roof strength.

"There's no significance to that whatsoever," he said.

Smart said its Tridion safety cell "works like the roll-cage in a race car."

"Made largely of high-strength steel, the rigid tridion safety cell is designed to distribute impact energy over the entire width of the car body," the car company states.  The car has eight air bags including two-stage front air bags.

However, Shenhar said "just about every modern car uses high-strength steel in strategic areas to dissipate energy of the crash around the passengers."

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IHHS) gave the Smart car its highest ratings (which is "good") for side impact and roof strength.  It gave the Smart car its second-highest rating, "acceptable," for its rear impact protection.  Its other crash ratings are marginal and poor.

Its strength-to-weight ratio for its roof was 5.4 while the IIHS has a minimum ratio of 4 to garner the highest rating.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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