The Hot Hatch Is Back! – SEMA 2008


When it comes to the automotive aftermarket, SEMA has a finger on the pulse of the industry; in fact, SEMA is the pulse of the industry. And, it only takes a few minutes of aisle perusing to see what’s hot and what’s not.

In 2005, full-size pickup trucks—the bigger the better—were the declared kings of SEMA. In ’06, it was Toyota’s FJ Cruiser garnering the top spot. And last year, the 4-door Jeep Wrangler was the industry’s wunderkind. But now, with $100/barrel crude and a struggling global economy, things have changed and the industry is getting smarter.

This year, SEMA’s little darling is the Daimler AG Smart Car. And it makes sense. This thing weighs 700 pounds less than a Mini Cooper, is shorter than most surfboards, gets triple the MPGs of a Silverado and you can park 3 of them in the same spot as one H2.

And, judging by the number of Smart Cars gracing the booths this year, this diminutive little ride is making a big impact. It seems that no matter what folks are driving or why, one things remains the same—the need to customize.

Nearly everyone had something for the Smart Car. The tubular pros at Aries have a complete lineup of stuff, from bumpers and sports bars to rear storage baskets and roll bars. They even make a set of nerf bars with a super-cool muzzle cap that were the best looking accessory at the show

There were several vendors crafting tons of bling, too. Stuff like chrome fuel doors, billet side vents and jazzed-up logos were everywhere. There were even big wheel and tire kits so you could add a little donk action to your Smart Car

And, it’s not just dress-up accessories. The airflow gurus at Volant reported getting several requests per month for a cold air intake kit for the little 3-banger. Even a couple of performance exhaust manufacturers said their R&D guys were busy developing some high-flow tubes for the Smart. Keep your eyes peeled, there’ll soon be a slew of tuner mods to come.

So, a big thanks goes out to Daimler for resurrecting and redefining the hatchback. All you old Scirocco and GTI fans rejoice, and import tuners take heart, the German hot hatch is back and hotter smarter than ever!

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