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Smart Tour USA Report

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  • gregg_vwgregg_vw Posts: 2,419
    I test drove the smart and loved it. It is very roomy for two, and I like the interior a lot. Different, sort of quirky like the rest of the car, and comfortable.

    If you drive it in automatic mode, it is slow to shift, since you can feel the car let the clutch in and out at a measured pace. If you want more acceleration, then use the stick manually and the auto clutch shifts faster. I drove a Geo Metro 3 cylinder for commuting and the smart certainly would more than keep up with that.

    But the smart is so much safer than the tin can Geo. I like that it has rear wheel drive for proper handling, but also traction control, stability control, brake assist, brake force distribution, etc. for the occasional bad weather.

    Climate control is a nice feature too. It is really inexpensive when you consider the equipment. You cannot get things like stability control and climate control on other mini cars (except for the Mini, but that is in a whole other price class).

    I also like the idea of not driving around in an empty bus. Most people drive alone, and haul around a vehicle big enough for a small crowd.
  • can8899can8899 Posts: 1
    Hi all,

    I've just read through all the posts and I think a lot of people are missing the point of the Smart Car. The car is designed to be an inexpensive, fuel efficient, space saver. It is not designed to be a high performance, luxury vehicle.

    Comparing this car to most others will almost always result in criticisms of the Smart Car. Adding options to the "boring" interior will add extra costs to the end price. The interior has everything it needs and nothing that it doesn't. Adding power seats or a tilt wheel or even cruise control (even though this seems like small additions) will result in a price increase which would turn off potential buyers.

    As for the 71hp, the car is designed to conserve gas and not to race. With such a low GVW how much hp do you need? There is plenty of power to get the car up to speed and to maintain suitable speeds on highways.

    Just like most manufacturers, Smart recommends the use of premium fuel. The car can and will run using lower octanes.

    As for the transmission, people again are expecting something that it is not. It does not have a "regular" automatic transmission but rather an automated manual. You can't expect the car to drive just like an automatic because it's not.

    The Smart is a great car when used as designed. Imagine a highway full of Smart cars on those long commutes home and home much more space there wold be on the nations highways if we all drove small cars. You can expect a lot less congestion at 5pm.
  • gregg_vwgregg_vw Posts: 2,419
    Except in base form (which will only be a small percentage of sales) the car has cruise control and lots of power equipment. The lack of a power seat is more likely due to the desire to save weight than cheaping out.

    The interior is not boring, and has many styling points that were not necessary (like the quirky gauges on top of the dash), but put there to give it personality. It has a long list of features you cannot get on any other small car save the Mini, but you will pay $10,000 more for that.

    The smart is more than just an anonymous appliance. It has style, presence, a certain fun factor, and is by far the smallest commuter car you can buy short of something with less than four wheels. If cheap and inexpensive are your main criteria (and you'd like a small back seat), then consider a Hyundai Accent or Kia Rio and fade to the background.
  • 74apollo74apollo Posts: 22
    It's going to take more than 40 mpg for people to give up their other "options" and buy this car. 40 mpg isn't enuf.
  • gregg_vwgregg_vw Posts: 2,419
    That's 40 mpg combined. It will do 60 or better on the highway.
  • jim1462jim1462 Posts: 40
    I agree with "Appolo 74", the smart better get at least 40 mpg in city, or all bets are off as far as I am concerned. I use to have a 93 Metro Conv. that I consitantly averaged in the mid- 40's driving in stop and go traffic(5 sp manual W/AC)
  • bumpybumpy Posts: 4,435
    I did the Road Tour today. The only thing I didn't like was the upshift delay in the tranny, and the reps swore up and down that it would be recalibrated in the US-spec cars.

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  • My wife and I did a test drive on 8/31/2007. I am 6'2" and she is 4'8" tall so we represent a radical size contrast. We both felt that the transmission was really terrible with too much shift lag. She used auto and I used manual paddle shifting and neither was very good. My wife had to slide the seat all the way forward and still could barely reach the pedals. Also the seat position adjuster lever was rubbing her leg. Too bad really as we both really liked the car and prior to the test drive my wife was already thinking about what color to get! All the other aspects of driving the car were fine. Pickup was fine for us as were the steering and brakes. I noticed that the car had front disks and rear drum brakes and I did not have any problems with the brake function. I was all ready to withdraw my deposit but decided first to send an e-mail to the company about the problems we had with the car just to see how or if they respond. Our current car is a Buick Rendezvous which we bought back in 2001. The Buick is a gas hog and too big for my taste but is a nice multipurpose vehicle. It manages to fit both my wife and I very comfortably. I am less concerned about gas prices and more concerned about auto pollution so we were looking at the Smart car as a low tech interim vehicle until a plug-in hybrid or something better is developed. As is I would not buy a Smart Car. I only hope that improvements are made to the final version would resolve the problems we had.
  • gregg_vwgregg_vw Posts: 2,419
    Again, it is not an automatic transmission. A robot shifts the clutch in and out for you. That is the lag, and I bet after a few miles behind the wheel, you wouldn't even attend to it, any more than you notice your own lazy shifts when driving a manual normally (not spiritedly). I do see that this will be a problem for smart. Most Americans would rather have an anemic 4 with a slush box than shift for themselves, so they are unlikely to take to a robot doing the clutching either.
  • What I would really like is to ditch the robot and just let me do the shifting with a clutch. I have owned many cars with automatic transmissions and manual transmissions. Also I have ridden motorcycles for years including riding sport bikes very fast on race tracks where smooth shifting technique is critical. So the shifting on the Smart really surprised me. Maybe I had too high expectations, but I was really excited with the paddle shifters until the first shift. I was expecting a smooth implementation. Honestly my first thought was how that transmission made it out of the design phase of the car! It is easily the worst shifting vehicle I have ever experienced. Maybe there is some technical reason due to engine placement and the car size that requires that particular transmission. I sent an e-mail to Smart asking if they were going to do something about it but have not received a reply yet. This day and age most vehicles work pretty well as the design and engineering have improved over the years and the Smart is no exception except for the transmission. I hope that Smart is reading these forums and doing something about it.
  • I called in this morning and cancelled my reservation. My next car will probably be a Mini Cooper or some as yet unavailable plug-in hybrid. I really liked the Smart Car as a concept but the test drive was an unpleasant surprise for both me and my wife. For those of you who buy the car...all I can say is enjoy it! The Smart Car is a really nice idea and maybe after they fix the problems we had with it we will get one too.
  • Hey velociraptor- what problems did you expreience during the test drive, I haven't heard of many negative experiences surrounding the test drives- it usually convinces people that they love smart even more.. I am curious to know why you didn't like it?
  • gregg_vwgregg_vw Posts: 2,419
    It's always the shifting. Some people don't like the manual transmission that shifts itself (does its own clutching). It doesn't feel like a smooth shifting automatic...shifts are slower and much more noticable. Doesn't bother me though, it is what it is...which is not an automatic. For that trade-off though, you don't have to do the clutching and you get better mileage than if it were a real automatic.
  • The transmission was my biggest problem. That was probably the main factor I cancelled my $99 reservation and got a Mini Cooper. On a side note, looks like Toyota is coming out with a Smart copy calls the iQ.

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  • Two things. First was the shifting. Second was that my very short wife did not fit properly in the car. There is nothing wrong with the shifting. It is just very slow and not so smooth. Some people have no problem with that and others like me do not like it. I did not like the shifting after about two gear changes. It is purely a personal preference and nothing more. If the shifting does not bother you and you fit in the car fine then you are going to love the car. :)
  • All the test models were regular (non-powered) steering. I tried to do a simulated emergency lane change, and gave up after an almost full turn of the wheel. Maybe PS will be quicker steering. And just like my Focus SVT, turning off the A/C made a big difference in initial acceleration; needs a load sensing clutch on A/C compressor. I'm still considering.
  • bumpybumpy Posts: 4,435
    I went to the final Road Tour today, and this one had USDM models. Pretty much the same as the earlier Euro-spec cars apart from the obvious differences (speedo, the PRND + - markings on the shifter console).

    The transmission was a LOT nicer than the earlier one. There is still a mild delay and hitch in automatic mode, but it's far more subdued than before. (Maybe a bit like driving a regular automatic with a shift kit to tighten up the gear changes?) If you put it in manual mode using the paddles or bumping the shift lever and lift off the gas for a moment (anti-blip the throttle, as it were), the shifts are as smooth as a baby's bum. :shades:
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