Smart Tour USA Report

lostchildlostchild Member Posts: 17
edited March 2014 in smart
Today I went to the Mercedes dealership in Covina, Los Angeles, for the private invitation only Smart USA preview. I was told that they were showing the same cars used in the public event last weekend at Irvine. There were a total of 8 smart fortwo's there: blue/yellow/black cabrio and 2black/red/white/silver passion/pure. It was hard to tell which one was passion and which one was pure. They all got alloy wheels, so they all looked like the passion model.

The one that I test drove was the blue cabrio with black tridion cell. For me, it is the most attractive looking of the bunch. The yellow cabrio with silver tridion cell came a close second. I am partial to the black color tridion cell, so maybe if the yellow one got black tridion, it would have a chance against the blue one. I was hoping there would be a red cabrio with black tridion but they only had a red passion with silver tridion. I didn't really like the shade of the red. I was hoping it would be darker like the one they show on the website.

The interior of the car is very simple, nothing fancy. There are plenty of room for seating but not much storage space. The trunk area is small for passion and smaller for the cabrio. It is big enough for a trip to the supermarket, but a trip to Costco may not be a good idea. One interesting thing about the trunk gate release is that you need to pull both levers on the 2 sides to release it. It would be hard to do if you holding something in one hand. The rear view mirror has a funny V shape. At first glance, I thought it was just for the look, but after seating at the driver seat, I found out the reason. The rear view was blocked by the backs of the 2 seats on the sides, so the only visible back view is already covered by the V shape mirror.

Anyway, the test drive was short, but it was expected as there was a very long line. It took a little getting used to the automated manual transmission. The test drive was done in automatic mode, and the gear shifting was a little rough. I was told that it would get a lot better in manual mode. Other than the transmission, it was fun to drive and the car handled well.

At first I thought the private invitations were only sent to the people who put down the $99 reservation fee. Later I found out that most of the people there were invited because they were customers of the dealership. I talked to person behind me in the line for the test drive, and he just happened to be a writer for edmunds inside line. I guess we will be reading a new article on this smart tour event soon.

I took some pictures. Just remove nospam from the URL below to see them.


  • kwg22kwg22 Member Posts: 1
    Hi lostchild,
    Thanks for the report and the great pictures!
    Much appreciated!
    I look forward to seeing it and driving it as well.
    They won't be here in Atlanta until October, but I'm from Houston, and they're going to be there and in San Antonio in July; I'm going to try to go over then.

    Kevin G
  • 74apollo74apollo Member Posts: 22
    Has anyone in the Midwest heard anything about the tour? I put down my $99 and was told the closest event to me was Denver or Salt Lake (I live in Iowa).
  • poeti18poeti18 Member Posts: 10
    The tour will hit Minneapolis June 16-20, Chicago June 23-27 and Kansas City in October. Check out for the details.

  • hodad66hodad66 Member Posts: 5
    Thanks for the report.... it will be October before
    they will be in my neck of the woods... :(
  • autooracleautooracle Member Posts: 3
    Living in San Francisco, and having a 100 mile per day commute.....I ordered this car back in February. For $14K you can't go wrong with a statement car that obtains over 50MPG. It gets two guys equaling over 500lbs in weight to a speed of over 80 mph on the freeway. It's relatively quiet, handles well....What more do you want?

    I don't see them doing as well in the burbs....but definitely an urban blockbuster. Someone environmentally conscious who can't quite justify plunking down that extra $8K for a Prius.

    They are a bit soft in the UK and considered pricy for what they are....But what do we have here like this in the land of the fuel sucking Dinosaurs. The Yaris...Cute, but doesn't quite have the personality of the Smart car. Not to mention a similarly equipped Yaris is actually more in price. The FIT...More in price and has those hideous two extra doors....Korean Cars: Let's not even go there....Safety is it is in all of the rest...

    A well engineered and well equipped urban dream that will get you up to the Sierra's for a quick weekend get away.
  • fortwofortwo Member Posts: 1
    It will be 48-49 MPG combined.

    I have the info on my blog.

    I looked at the reviews from Europe and did the Imperial to Metric conversions.
  • sumac3sumac3 Member Posts: 1
    Missed the Chicago debut, so I took a day off and drove down to Indianapolis to see the smarts. VERY cute. Looked even smaller in person. Not that it makes the slightest bit of difference, but during the half-hour wait in the air-conditioned trailer I felt very much like a little kid at the pony rides, having picked out the one I wanted to drive- the blue or black.

    I got my last choice- the yellow- oh well. I gotta say, the inside looked... DORKY. Sticking up, on the passenger side dash, is a "v" with with two 2" round tachometer and... an analog clock! (Was there really a demand for this?) It looks tacky, it blocks part of the windshield and if it were mine, the first thing I would do is take a hacksaw to it.

    That was irritating, but fixable. However, this cute little car that's supposed to fit EVERYBODY doesn't have a height adjustment on the seat! I couldn't believe it! The last three cars I've owned had this feature, I won't buy a car without it. Many of you may be thinking, so what, use a seat cushion, no big deal. But if you are a short person and/or have back problems, trying to "retrofit" the seat are unsuitable and impossible to keep in place.

    I spent hundreds of dollars and countless hours trying to construct something that worked reliability and they would never last. THEN- on my next car, a Honda Civic, I went for a test drive, got in, adjusted the seat and it was PERFECT. Never had a moment's problem after that.

    I can't believe that a car company smart enough to design such as... well, smart car, could be so STUPID as to not have what I- and most Americans- consider to be a standard feature- an adjustable seat! :confuse:

    It was a deal-breaker for me.
  • stanwictstanwict Member Posts: 60
    Dropped by the Hartford Connecticut stop today and took one for a drive. My daily commute is just shy of 100 miles round trip and I could easily see myself having one of these as a third car and my daily commuter car. It felt like a full size car to me! The two issues I have with the car are the price and rear wheel drive.

  • hodad66hodad66 Member Posts: 5
    Great shots.... thanks!! :)
  • lostchildlostchild Member Posts: 17
    I will be removing the pictures linked in my original post soon. I have decided to buy a Mini Cooper instead. If anyone wants to copy them and host them somewhere else, feel free! :)
  • hodad66hodad66 Member Posts: 5
    Good luck with your Mini. Sure would like to see the Mini D over here!!
  • 74apollo74apollo Member Posts: 22
    You'll enjoy the Mini. I have a Mini but my husband wants a Smart car for himself.
  • myst4myst4 Member Posts: 4
    Well, after being a long-time fan of the smart ForTwo (after first seeing it in Europe in 2001), and having put my $99 deposit down about a month ago for the reservation, I have crossed the smart off my list. They ARE cute, and the inside space for the driver and passenger is roomy enough. BUT, all I had to do was drive it a few hundred feet, and I was already disappointed! The test drive was done in the automatic mode, and as far as power goes, the only thing I could compare it to is one of the kiddy cars at the amusement park, where they limit the ability of the car to only go so fast, so you don't get hurt, even when floored. :sick: The route for the test drive went all the way around Invesco Field football stadium (probably a couple of miles), but about 1/4 of the way through, I was ready to go back. I'm a car-lover, and that's NOT normal for me. The brakes seemed to barely work as well, at least the pedal went down quite a ways before you felt anything take hold. I wasn't too fond of the steering either - seemed like only partially powered, or maybe just too loose. Anyway, I test drove a MINI a couple of months ago, and it was MUCH better - no comparison. Of course it's more expensive and not as good gas mileage, but at least it moves. Sorry - I was hoping to have good news. :cry:
  • keiko380keiko380 Member Posts: 2
    I'm struggling over this too...I'm driving a G35 coupe. It's very powerful and fun to drive with. But the gas it takes really eat me up (especially when it's taking premium fuel only...). So I'm thinking to switch to some nice looking gas saver car!
    I was looking into the spec of Smart fortwo at Edmund's review page, and it does mention "premium fuel"...I'm wondering, is it premium fuel "only" or "recommended"??
    I've never test driven a Prius or Hybrid, so I don't know how it's feel like to drive something with 71 horse power...Can you guys tell me more about this 71HP Smart ForTwo car? How does it feel like when you step on the gas pedal??
  • myst4myst4 Member Posts: 4
    I guess you didn't see my post - just before yours. The ForTwo was WAY underpowered. Like I mentioned, it felt like a kiddy car at the amusement park. I felt like it never went above 25mph during the whole test drive. Even when I floored it - it was unresponsive. Maybe I didn't wait long enough for it to "kick in", as mentioned by some other people (one or two second delay). However, my husband has a Toyota Prius, and he loves it. I have a Nissan Altima 3.5L, which has a LOT of power (and runs on premium only). When I drive his Prius, it still is fine and doesn't bother me as far as power. Of course it's no muscle car, but we took it on a trip to New Mexico last fall, and it was great on the road. Plenty of power to merge, pass, whatever. It was fine in the mountains too. The Prius is a GREAT car and I would highly recommend it. It runs ONLY on Regular Unleaded. Anything with higher octane can ruin the hybrid engine. We get about 45 mpg. Hope this helps!
  • keiko380keiko380 Member Posts: 2
    yea, I read your got the point about it...and with the problem on the brakes, I wouldn't want to have that either.
    Now I'm considering Toyota Yaris. What do you think about that car then? I haven't test drive anything yet...but Yaris looks cute too! lol
  • myst4myst4 Member Posts: 4
    I've never driven a Yaris, or know anyone that has one. But good luck on finding a car that you will like! :)
  • hodad66hodad66 Member Posts: 5
    I have the Scion xA (Toyota) and think that it's a great car. I haven't driven the Yaris as it came out after I purchased my xA but both are built on the same platform.

    If you want an economical, reliable vehicle you can't hardly beat Toyota. My complaint about the Scion line is that they "Americanized" the most recent offerings. They are larger and burn more fuel. I feel that this was a step backward but then Toyota is offering their Yaris.
  • lostchildlostchild Member Posts: 17
    The main reason I withdrew my $99 deposit for the smart car was the test drive. I love the way it looks on the exterior, but the interior looks quite cheap. The worst part was the driving. I feel like I am waiting for the car to response to the pedal. I push down, nothing happens. And when it does, the transition between gears (automatic) was really rough. It reminds me of a person who is learning to drive a stick.

    I test drove the Yaris, which drove a lot better. But after I test drove the Mini, there is nothing can stop me from getting one. The Mini just drives so much better compare to all the cars I have driven include my wife's BMW. I think the smart car is a good car, but Mini is THE car for me. :)
  • meenakshimeenakshi Member Posts: 2
    difference between VIN and VAT?
  • meenakshimeenakshi Member Posts: 2
    Vehicle Identification Number
  • myst4myst4 Member Posts: 4
  • 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 Member 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.
  • 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 Member 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.
  • That's 40 mpg combined. It will do 60 or better on the highway.
  • jim1462jim1462 Member 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 Member Posts: 4,425
    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.





  • velociraptorvelociraptor Member Posts: 4
    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.
  • 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.
  • velociraptorvelociraptor Member Posts: 4
    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.
  • velociraptorvelociraptor Member Posts: 4
    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.
  • michivmichiv Member Posts: 1
    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?
  • 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.
  • lostchildlostchild Member Posts: 17
    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.

  • velociraptorvelociraptor Member Posts: 4
    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. :)
  • joefotojoefoto Member Posts: 1
    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.
  • geekaustingeekaustin Member Posts: 1
  • bumpybumpy Member Posts: 4,425
    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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