A Car Called Smart. Maybe Too Smart For The U.S.A.

Posted by: David Kiley on March 30, 2006

smart.fortwo.160

It’s hard to imagine that a brand called “Smart” would do well in the U.S. After all, we are the dumbest country on the planet when it comes to taking care of our natural resources, though China is catching up. And the U.S. is full of people, many in our own government, who deny global warming. Then there are people who buy preposterous vehicles like the Hummer H2 and Ford Excursion. And while vehicles like the Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon are necessary for people who pull boats and horse trailers, just as many buy them because they have irrational and selfish insecurities about riding around in anything smaller than a tank.

This brings me to the Smart. A few years ago I had the pleasure of driving around a diesel-powered Smart Fortwo for a week around Metro Detroit. I have to say…even as I drove the length of Rt. 94 and 96 between Ann Arbor and Detroit, changing lanes around trucks and Hummers, I loved it. I didn’t feel insecure at all. It was a pleasure. And one of the most pleasurable things about it was the knowledge that I wasn’t driving more car than I need 98% of the time.

U.S. cities are the obvious best markets for these cars, just as in Europe. New York, Chicago, Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston and Washington DC were made for these beauties, which can be parked nose to curb and without sticking out any more than a Tahoe.

Most car trips are under 3 miles. Far more car trips are with single drivers than not. And for this we need Hummers, Excursions and Tahoes? Does it not seem irrational that most of us buy these gigantic vehicles for maybe 2-3% of our driving needs?

Call me a tree-hugger, but I can’t help thinking these things when I see evidence staring me in the face that, for example, Glacier National Park in Montana will probably be glacier free in about thirty years. And the melting polar ice caps will probably turn the Bush family compound in Maine into a coral reef by mid century.

Reader Comments

Robo

April 1, 2006 10:33 PM

Speaking of smart, you need to go back to school yourself. First, the U.S is actually one of the world's most efficient nations when it comes to unit of energy used per unit of output. China lags badly. Second, very few people are denying that the earth is warming slightly. However, they justifiably disagree on how much effect man's activities have on that warming. Face it..Kyoto is nothing more than a bad political joke, with very few signatories coming close to meeting their "goals". The scientific truth is that even if everyone in the U.S. ran out and bought a Prius, it would have an unnoticeable effect on environmental warming.

mmmm

April 3, 2006 11:36 PM

David:

You almost got it right about the "Smart" car...it would sell like hotcakes here in the US with gas heading to $3 a gallon....but it will never happen because corporate wants to stick people with bloated SUV's and other gas guzzlers...its much more profitable...

So sad...

larry

April 5, 2006 1:20 AM

I checked out the smart car web site and found no information on head room, hip room, or leg room. Do you have access to that information?

I use my Harley every chance I can. Great mileage even in town, And I don't mind getting caught in the rain. However, with a smart car in the garage I'd have great mileage even on days it rains. Snow? I'd have to try that one myself.

carman

April 5, 2006 9:53 AM

it looks lovely,i like it .

Melgund

April 6, 2006 11:36 AM

Smart cars have been on sale in Canada for over a year. Mercedes is selling as maney (at about US$18,000)a pop) as they can import.

Mike Toomey

April 12, 2006 1:43 PM

I was looking for an article written by Mr. Kiley that my sister told me about and stumbled onto this article. I wondered why Mr. Kiley was interested in the Smart car. Looked up his bio and found out he was writing about Detroit for years.

FYI check out smartplugs.com. I has been around for years. Any car engine can be retrofitted with the SmartPlug ignition system to run on wet Ethanol. Thats fuel from crops grown in America. Would stop Petrol $$$ from going to our enemies. Help farmers out, drop oil prices world wide. Take a moment and check out the web site and then check with the University of Idaho, they have had a van running on Acquanol for years. Why Detroit never jumped on this is a big mistery - its here - its now.

kiley

April 18, 2006 1:07 PM

Mr. Kiley is a fan of Smart cars because they are efficient, cool, fun to drive and get great gas mileage. Would I want to be plowed into one by a Suburban? No. But I can't go through life choosing Suburbans and the like because I'm afraid to get hurt.

Ethanol is but one of the many options we need to have to supplant oil for our cars. My concern about going overboard on Ethanol is that it is not an efficient source of energy. I also worry about incenting farmers to grow more crops to run our cars because we can certainly wear out the soil and suffer the consequences of farmers pouring more chemicals into the earth to maximize yield.

kiley

April 18, 2006 1:14 PM

I weigh about 285 pounds, and stand almost 6 feet tall, so i would have noticed if the leg room and hip room was tight. I thought it was perfectly comfortable.

usdoc1

April 18, 2006 5:39 PM

I have enjoyed driving one of these cars during my last visit to Europe. They will do fine in a short trip city driving. Wait till the gas prices jump to $4 per gallon. Even fat people driving those large SUVs will be begging to get into one of these.

luiz lima

April 23, 2006 1:56 AM

great, informative article. Please, let me know where I can go to purchase a SmartCar. I live in Raleigh, North Carolina. In my last vacation in France I saw many of these SmartCars running around Paris and I fell in love with this beautiful car. Thank you for the information.

Jake

May 2, 2006 12:39 PM

I live in Europe where the tractor trailors are bigger, people drive faster and much more dangerously. I have driven the SMART diesel version and would recomend it any day to anything hybrid. My wife and I went so far as to take a weekend trip in it and were completely comfortable. I am 6'2" 210lbs and my wife is 5'9" tall around 140. What is the deal with not importing the deisel? There are a ton of fuel inefficent personal pickups on the road. I just dont understand. I hope this changes soon. If so I would purchase one the next day and never look back. Mabey the US manfactures should take some notes.

Adriana

May 7, 2006 2:05 AM

This is some information that you might find useful.
Here is a site that has specs and features on it:
http://www.thesmart.ca/index.cfm?id=4723

Here is the info site of the local Smart dealership in the city where I live:
http://www.threepointmotors.com/smart/index.asp.

They're becomeing very popular up here as an economical 2nd car option for families that just need something to run around with.

dkny

May 11, 2006 2:30 PM

This article would have been a lot more useful if it had pointers to some websites, as well as some numbers - i.e. price. It's hard enough to find information on the net, and once I found a list of dealers, the price I saw one website was ridiculous - $24k for the base model!!

Other dealers provided no numbers, so it's pretty difficult to consider this car as an option, especially when the closest dealer is two states away.

So, seriously, next time give us more info besides the "I had fun driving this car" angle, and how friendly it is to the environment. For $24k one could get a Prius or a an Insight with a comparable MPG. A car like this should be $10k tops.

Larry

May 27, 2006 12:25 AM

My understanding is that in Europe the Smart Fortwo sells for the equivalent of $13,000. They will be more expensive in the United States in part because of modifications that will have to be made in order to meet environmental (and possibly safety) regulations. A company name Zap is very close to having cars converted for sale in the U.S. A side story regarding government regulations - Several manufacturers are currently advertising new headlight systems in which one set of lights turns in the direction that the car is being steered. The Citroen SM offered that feature in the cars they produced in Europe 30 years ago, but the cars imported into the U.S. had to have that feature disabled because the government had not approved it.

Jaime

June 21, 2006 9:19 PM

What can we do to get these cars to be more affordable in the US? The version that ZAP converts only gets 40 mpg, not exactly great. There should be no reason why these cannot come here direct. You can register a dune buggy with very little worries on emissions.

donan iacovone

August 13, 2006 8:31 PM

Diesel Smart. Forget about those hybrids. Try on 69 plus mpg for under $16,000. Nice.

Bill

August 16, 2006 2:00 PM

I own the first new Smart Cabrio Passion sold in the US, and I love it. I drive 40 miles one-way to work everyday, and the gas savings alone is a reason to have one, but the extras and roominess make you foget you're in a small car. It has more personal space than my Grand Vitara.

It has a 3-star safety rating in Europe. As for the gentleman who said "Would I want to be plowed into one by a Suburban? No." What would you like to be plowed into by a Suburban in?? The most dangerous thing about the Smart is being run over by gawkers.

An unfriendly person can not own this car. Everyone dreams about owning a car that's the envy of the road, and this is it. I actually had a guy in a mini-cooper flip me off! I guess he felt he wasn't the coolest thing on the road anymore.

Most surprising feature: riding comfort. It doesn't ride like a short wheelbase car. It's smooth and responsive. Took me 3 years to get mine after seeeing them in Europe years ago. Glad Zap made it happen. Now let's see what knid of stripped-down version Penske introduces in 2008.

mic

August 26, 2006 12:08 PM

WHAT ARE THE INTERIOR DIMENSIONS???

Headroom?
Legroom?

Need specific numbers, will convert metric if necessary.

Cannot find on any Smart website for Canada, US or UK nor in .pdf brochures.

This is kind of scary. Is it that bad?

Simon Fraser

November 14, 2006 4:50 PM

hi there...been driving around London and the Midlands in my Smart for years. At last you too will have the opportunity to drive such a great little car. I cant wait to visit the US and hire one. The money you will save is enormous and dont forget to wave at other owners, it will always bring a smile to people's faces!!!

Brian Maloney

November 21, 2006 11:34 PM

wow. i want to buy a smart car today! is there any way to buy one in the united states before their release in early 2008? if anyone has any information on this, please feel free to email me at redviewguy99@gmail.com

Morgan

December 8, 2006 7:22 PM

The real reason you can't get one here? People like David Kiley-- smug, arrogant, people that think you're too stupid to make the right decisions for yourself. The same attitude leads to the very environmental and safety over-regulation that is keeping this car off our roads. Thank goodness we have environmental standards that take half a decade to negotiate through, who knows how hot it'd be if we were driving these?

On the safety front, we allowed the chance of driving the Tango all-electric unless it's a kit. It's got a full roll cage and is safe enough for the NHRA, but not for us rubes to decide to drive. So only George Clooney can afford their small-run production costs.

Thanks environmentalists and nanny-staters, we're all better off with you forcing your advice into our lives.

Tom

December 16, 2006 9:17 PM

Spot on, Morgan.

Mr. Kiley is long on US-bashing and short on useful information--like specs on the car, where to find it, why Mercedes won't sell it in the USA in spite of the fact that several importers have been BEGGING the company. But apparently, Mr. Kiley's loathing of his own countrymen and women trumps even a basic desire to give info about... the object of his article.

Bush has nothing to do about why Smart is not sold in the US. Mercedes and the environmental bureaucracy that your own "tree hugging" pals have set up have everything to do with it. Wise up sir.

Next time you get an itch to write about something like this, inform yourself about how much desire there actually is to own it on the part of your countrymen (which is quite a lot, actually!), and why it is what it is not imported. I mean the real reasons, not your bias and hysteria. Sheesh.

R. Brandt

December 18, 2006 12:30 AM

I live in Colorado. I'm elderly, and don't
drive much except for short trips.
Where can I buy a Smart Car?
I got on a UK website, and really like the looks
of the Smart Four, or whatever it's called.

Sure would like to see some more pictures.
There was only one exterior picture, and were no interior shots.

Tom Hurley

January 8, 2007 11:36 AM

I'm a 6'5", 200lb Brit and I drive a Smart Cabrio as my every day car. Mine is fitted with cruise control, heated electric seats, electric hood, etc. It is a perfect car for every day use and I use mine in preference to our station wagon if I have to drive to London (a 400 mile round trip which I can do in a day).

I find it extraordinary that the US hasn't got these yet and I'm pleased to see that they will be properly importing them from 2008 onwards (the new one is a whole 8" longer - how will I cope with such a large car!) I've spent lots of time driving in the States and I can see no reason why they wouldn't be perfect for so many drivers. So wake up America - a big car doesn't make you a big man!

max

January 29, 2007 3:20 PM

larry and others, I can vouch for above.

I drove a Smart in Italy and it zoomed on the freeway past everyone else and got 600km on one tank. It's not invisible, people don't pretend it doesn't exist and people don't smash into it. It is very efficient. It also rides "high" like you can see down on other cars and with plenty of room. It's actually weird getting in one because I had to squeeze uncomfortably in my clunky Ford Escort, but the door on the Smart is essentially the whole side of the vehicle so getting in and out is a cinch ... and provides more leg room, head room and all that than any other vehicle I've driven in except like a Jeep or something.

Also while I don't agree with David's eco-evidence, his eco-concerns are justified, and the Smart does address them. Don't blame David. That's as ridiculous as blaming the reader. The true issue, as always, is cynical popular opinion versus the experience of innovation ... always butting heads.

I called Chrysler and they said that in fact the EPA standards are indeed preventing the Smart from coming over sooner than 2008.

I will welcome it when it comes for it means two things:

1) the strict EPA standards have been met

and

2) I can buy one!

fantasyfreddy

February 13, 2007 2:52 AM

sad diesel restrictions have recently increased, because if they hadn't, we could buy the diesel and convert it to run on veggie oil, which greatly reduces emissions anyway...
also, i think the 4 seater cabrio would be a hit, as people could then carpool!!
f

dean

February 19, 2007 1:18 PM

I am planning a road trip this june 2007, to drive to all 48 states,
I would love to do it in a smart car!
anyone want to sponser me, Smart car are you out there, want me to promote your little car all over the states
http://www.49statesIn49days.com

blackdog

February 22, 2007 8:54 AM

I live in the UK and have owned a Smart for three years now. It's a great little car with a suprising amount of room, I'm 5'9" and about 200lbs and fit in with plenty of room to spare. It's pretty zippy away from a standing start too, more than once the guy in the fancy sports car next to me has had to look twice when I take off ahead of him. I see anywhere between 45-60 miles to a UK gallon, depending on how heavy my foot is!
I did a 2000 mile round trip to Germany in it with no problems.
If you are concerned about safety, don't worry. Here in the UK, one of our motoring shows on TV drove a remote controlled Smart into a concrete wall at 75 miles an hour. They could still open one of the doors! An excellent little car.

Brad

March 1, 2007 4:54 AM

I'm looking forward to the Smart ForTwo's arrival in the US. I've admired them every time I've been to Europe the last several years. Why does our enthusiam for a Smart car have to revolve around eco-dogma? I want one because it is efficient for commuting (my commute is 120 miles, round trip), lightweight (which is good for handling and longevity of tires and brakes), and looks good. As mentioned earlier, it can draw a reaction even from a Mini driver, and probably Minnie Driver too!

However, a Ford Excursion happens to be one of my dream trucks. I certainly wouldn't use a Smart car for a weekend camping and off-roading trip with the family or to plow snow, and I probably wouldn't commute with an Excursion nor find it particularly satisfying tossing around on curvy backroads, but the point is that I can desire them equally for reasons completely unrelated to the environment. I also enjoy motorcycles for their open-air sense of adventure and tractors for their slow, deliberate sense of power and utility, so don't try to pigeonhole the driving tastes of American drivers as being inherently eco-friendly or eco-unfriendly, Mr. Kiley.

Dan

March 1, 2007 1:14 PM

My sister has been living outside London for about 15 years with her family. They've had a Smart car for a number of years and have had a lot of problems with it. They replaced the transmission and had a lot of other probelms that kept it from running. I remember riding down a country lane at night and the headlights went out and refused to come back on. We drove the last half hour with no lights, pretty much invisible to the other traffic. That's just one car, but their experieince fits with the reliability rankings of the parent company, Mercedes. Mercedes was ranked last in reliability as of the latest Consumer Reports rankings. Plus I haven't read of anyone commenting on the long term reliability. I think that's important because any car can be a fun runabout when it's new. I like my Chevrolet because its got 183,000 miles on it and hasn't needed a major repair.

Anybody know how the Smart car would drive in snow and ice?

beef

March 10, 2007 10:45 AM

To all the Euros who want to know why we don't drive Smart cars in the US, there is 1 reason: You haven't sent any yet. I suppose President Bush could send the Marines in to occupy Smartville if they weren't all tied up in Iraq. But on second thought, because it's in France, the Girl Scouts would probably do the job just fine. So there is no excuse. It's Bush's fault.

John in San Diego, CA.

March 22, 2007 8:59 PM

My checkbook is open and my pen is poised to write the down payment figure! I was sold on this vehicle when I first saw one in the U.K. a few years ago. As fuel prices in this region ($3.35/ Gal. - the highest in the nation) reach those of Europe, many many more of my fellow countrymen will come to their senses and realize that their hard-earned money is better spent on things other than fuel! (I prefer Mosel River Rieslings myself).

P. Leonard

March 28, 2007 7:57 AM

Here in North America, we really, really need to shift our perceptions of personal transportation requirements ... Our preference for larger fuel-inefficient vehicles is not only contributing to the rapid depletion of the world's finite supply of natural resources, but is also funding many of the hostile regimes in the Middle East.
The smartcar is a step in the right direction (albiet, it is a bit too expensive). What the automotive world needs right now is a "revolution" on the scale of the original Model-T, which H. Ford made so everyman could afford one ... which unfortunately rules out the gas/elect. hybrids like the Prius and Escape; these are also not environmentally friendly with their expensive and complicated battery banks. No, the smart is nod to where we should be going, with small, inexpensive, diesel powered commuters ... which can simply be configured to run on bio-diesel as well as petrol-diesel.
I was looking at a 4-seat, diesel powered Kawasaki Mule ATV the other day and it didn't take a stretch of immagination to picture a personal vehile based on a similar platform for everyday use on our roads ... enclosed cabin, efficient diesel engine, 4WD for snowy climes, road wheels/tires and a small pick-up bed to tote stuff ... The days of the large SUV are rapidly coming to a close and America needs to lead the way once again in the automotive field with a "revolution" just as it did in the early 1900's!

Tym

March 30, 2007 11:41 AM

Hybrid cars are simply not cost effective versus cheaper non hybrids. A 22k, 70 mpg hybrid Toyota Prius would have to be driven nearly 350,000 miles before it became cheaper to drive than an 11k, 40 mpg non-hybrid Toyota Yarus assuming the price of gas was $3.00 a gallon. Something like the Smart Car is going to be more cost effective than a Prius for most drivers.

ricky07

April 19, 2007 1:36 PM

Well guys, what can I tell yah that you haven't heard! but to honestly say,.. I lived in Germany for a year, had a smart car myself "lime green",..and I payed far less then for gas "relative",..to what i pay now for my Scion XA. reguardless,..we don't have to be the 5th AVE "corporate influenced" driven consumer nation of monkey see's monkey do's that the world portray's us as!,..If a smart is a fashion statement,..I want one again,..and if it means i'll be labeled as a tree hugger,,..then so be it. but at least I know I don't have to pick pocket my 401k or my savings to pay for my $60 dollars for three days worth of gas for an SUV.

Gerry H

May 6, 2007 12:58 AM

We have quite a few Smart cars here in Vancouver, BC, of the 4,000 total sold in Canada last year. Based on my observations most are used by businesses. Great for carrying advertising.
Not having any significant trunk space they aren't useful as the only car. Two people can't even go grocery shopping.
It's a good work commute car for the rich, who can afford another car to go shopping, golf, etc.
At 50% of the price they would make much more sense, but the best choice for the commute would be public transportation. Parking fees, depreciation and insurance kind of kill the fuel savings.
Here the base car for many that sells like hot cakes is the Toyota Yaris.

Traci

May 8, 2007 11:32 AM

If you go to there offical sight it has several video's. One of a really tall man that doesn't fit in any of the places he tries to use on a buissness trip and then he goes to get his rental car and it is a fortwo and he is totally pissed, then he gets in and moves the seat all the way back and can't even reach the pettles. It is SO funny and there are two others. www.smartusa.com and then click on smartTV up on the top. And there is alot of information on there as well. There is also talk to a Smart ForFour a four door version.

Blair Tisshaw

May 8, 2007 10:57 PM

Hey guys,

Interesting to see so much reaction (+ and -) to a car. I drive a Phat red 2006 smart Passion. I ride in luxury, : heated seats, air, power mirrors, windows, full sunroof. I have abs and traction control, 6 speed soft-tip clutchless transmission, 4 air bags and best of all, one of the most unique rides on the road.

I have not had this much fun with my clothes on in a long time.

Oh yes, about $16 Canadian fills the tank for another week of turning more heads and sparking more conversations than just about any car out there.

Great in the snow, and real easy to drive quickly.

One man's opinion, but I bet dollars to doughnuts smart will sell a ton of these in the states.


Hugo

May 9, 2007 7:11 AM

I live in Spain and i have been driving a second hand Smart since last year a so far so good. It has 71500 miles and still runs smooth as the first day, for the record is one of the first models that came out in Europe. They were released in 1998 and mine is from 1999. It has plenty of room for the big guys and girls and so funny to drive and reliable. Last Summer i have made a trip from Spain to Switzerland and back 3000 miles my friends and it is still running. When i get the chance i'll buy the new one...rgrds from Spain

Paul Rice

May 21, 2007 4:07 PM

Speaking of U.S. automakers...can anybody tell me why GM scraped it's 40-50 MPG Metro for the even uglier 25-35 MPG Aveo? WTF?

Mac

May 26, 2007 12:02 AM

It's official. The smart fortwo is coming to the U.S. and A. in the first quarter of 2008. There are more details on smart's website: www.smart.com (click on USA to get to their american website.) The base model will be sold for under $12,000 USD and there is a refundable $99 early reservation for those who want the first ones avaliable.

As for me, personally, I want to get one and swap in a Suzuki GSX-R 1000 engine, turning it into a "smartuki". With a 0-60mph time in under 5 seconds, this car will have basically the same weight and power as the Lotus Elise and be less than half the price! Awesome!

omar

May 31, 2007 1:23 PM

can you drive a smart car in the snow?
and how much does it cost?

Jesus

June 3, 2007 9:48 PM

The Smart web site's FAQ page is saying 40+ mpg. A recent article in PopSci backs up this claim... in their article is was averaging mid 30s. That's no better than what is already on the market. Sure the car is cool and everything, but we need more than 40 mpg.

autoshows

June 4, 2007 5:05 AM

Excellent, too smart.

I like the cars, and collected some car reviews' articles, and I hope you will like it too.

http://autocar-show.blogspot.com

Elizabeth Studebaker

June 10, 2007 8:35 PM

Snow?
The Smart is a small lightweight mid-engine vehicle. It is bound to be excellent in snow with proper tires. The best snow vehicle I ever drove was an old VW Beetle. Buy it!

fortwochat

June 19, 2007 1:10 PM

These cars will be a hit. If you need more info, my blog chronicles the US introduction

http://smartcarfan.blogspot.com

We have pictures and videos of the test drives as well as links to reviews and articles on the new car.

Value4Money

July 13, 2007 11:14 AM

I think the "smart" is too expensive. How do the manufacturers justify a US$18000 car which seats only two when you can get a Hyundai Elantra for about the same money that seats 5 and gives about the same gas mileage?

The selling points are:
1. Small compact size - easy to park in cities. Agreed.
2. Possibly a 40+ mpg epa rating (website sounds unsure about this) - not so great when there are other cars in that range and when the seating is compromised.

Not a very practical car for most. For a family person like me this will be at best a second car. The early adopters will be mostly people who have extra money to spare for a different/snazzy looking car. To capture market share, the price of the "smart" needs to be like the dimensions - "small".

I don't ever see myself buying one of these unless they are well under the $10K price range. Right now it's like paying $24K to seat 4 (cheapest fortwo version is supposed to sell for $12K), not the best value for money.

AR

July 20, 2007 7:06 AM

I love this car myself but everyone has been asking why has it taken so long or why does it cost so much. You have to realize who stands to loose the most from this car.

Loose? loose money wise and thats the oil companies. When you introduce a car that gets 50+ mpg on the road, the oil companies shudder and are very resistant to accepting it. This cars been around since 1998 folks and companies want to sell it. Think Mercedes doesn't want to sell it here? Think again. Folks like Exxon have alot more control on cars than most think. You see once a car like this is introduced, it opens the gates for alot more cars that get this kind of MPG. Because of this, the oil companies enforce a surhcarge on it. Your paying for the gas you would have been paying for with a more inefficient car upfront basically. The same goes for diesel engines. Why aren't there more of them when they tend to be 40% more efficient? Who stands to loose?

Don't believe the surcharge?
In Europe this car goes for around 10k Euro. here they want as high as 18k American, but now they are saying 12k American in some places. How does this compare to other 40mpg cars like the Yaris? well those cars tend to be around 10-11k and thats true for the Chevy Aveo, KiA accent and so on, and they weigh 1000 pounds more (like the Mini)/are bigger yet they are cheaper. Kia had a car that they stopped producing that got 50mpg on the highway a few years ago. How much did it start at? 13k...13k??? when its closest competitor was 11k? Why? the oil companies.

Who designed the Smart? Swatch did, and they happen to have an engine that goes 100 miles per gallon (or liter I cant remember which) and where is it now? its in a museum in Switzerland. Why? again, who stands to loose from the introduction of an engine like that. An American inventor built a similar engine in the 70's but the oil companies bought his patent and destroyed it.

JJ

July 23, 2007 11:13 AM

Smart needs to be 50 plus mpg for me to purchase.Heck my 83 rabbit got 50 mpg.I don't understand why no one is selling a 50 plus mpg economy car in the USA.The demand is out there.

autos cars spider

August 4, 2007 12:33 PM

smart cars is welcomed these days.

Wolfgang

August 15, 2007 7:12 AM

I'm from Germany, so I have to know :-D

Seriously, all the talk about wheather it's a practical car or a fun car is over after you have driven it! I please all of you to take a test ride!

"So, whats so different to other cars, besides the small size?"
- The answer is simple: It's fun to drive: The engine makes nice sounds from the back! Yes, you have the little well-powered (turbo charged) engine in your back, like e.g. in a ferrari. No manual clutch but still clear gears (not that over-smoothed automatic shifting (that I personally hate)). Your ass is right on top of the reas axes. Parking in cities is quite funny, because as long as there are only few smarts around you have plenty space reserved for you only. The convertible: With the roof open you really ARE outside (like riding a bike). Just look at all those expensive convertibles like the Mercedes SL (or SLK) or even Porsche: The are open-roofed, yes. But the windshield is coming so far above you head that it's hardly a convertible....you only can "imagine" the sky above you without looking straight upwards.

The interior is so cute. All the girls are smiling when driving with me. "Oh, how cute!", they say. Just try this with a Mustang ;-)

Now any more in Germany (or Europe) but in the USA you WILL be the attraction point in traffic! Just try this with a Mustang (okay, with a GT40 it might work).

So: Take a testdrive and you will see what I mean.

FatFreddie

August 15, 2007 4:53 PM

Very interested to see this as a Brit who emigrated here in Jan 2001 who used to be a driving instructor in London with British School of Motoring.
Most of the comments seem to bear out that gas guzzling SUVs are not the way to go ... I don't have to be Paul Revere to say wake up America!

We had Corsa(s) Opel/Vauxhall with B.S.M. which I regularly got over 50 mpg (Imperial) on long trips doing 70 to 80 mph on British motorways. Seen the self same bodyshell in Mexico. I echo the comments about GM with the GEO Metro. Why did GM (the same company ) kill off or not offer that one, my guess is that it was really because it was essentially a rebadged Suzuki Swift! - With a three cylinder engine just like my 1000 c.c.- 12 valve - Vauxhall Corsas (because of the mileage we did doing lessons with students B.S.M. gave us 2 or 3 a year or swapped them out at 18,000 miles maximum). With students (poor clutch control, stop start traffic in London, etc. I still used to get better than 35 mpg and the acceleration was better 0-60 than the 1200 c.c. Corsa Mk 1 that I started BSM with back in 1995/6.
P.S. These cars are really cool, performance actually not so bad (at least the turbo diesels I remember and parking in tight city centres/centers - No problem !!

harv

August 17, 2007 11:16 PM

AR nailed it on the head. the US had a time when economy cars from Japan flooded into the market after gas prices shot up. Then suddenly gas prices were cheap and cars got bigger. Now gas prices are up again. Once enough Americans say enough is enough and buy the fuel efficient cars, regardless of price, then the gas prices will go down again because demand will be down. It is simple economics of supply and demand. If enough Americans realized the power they have together, we could control those prices regardless of how much the gas companies lobby congress.

cam

August 29, 2007 2:35 PM

The Smarts have been in Canada for several years now and are rapidly gaining in popularity...for obvious reasons. Drove a diesel in Europe last sping and have nothing but prsise for the little gas misers. Just now trying to order one for lease but they took the year off in 2007 and the dealer says the 2008's will be out in the fall. Get ready for the U.S. smart car invasion. Not a moment too soon!!
Vancouver B.C.

mike W

September 8, 2007 5:51 PM

"Paul Rice
May 21, 2007 04:07 PM
Speaking of U.S. automakers...can anybody tell me why GM scraped it's 40-50 MPG Metro for the even uglier 25-35 MPG Aveo? WTF?"

Good Question -> Better one - there was a special on I believe the History or Discovery channel called "Who Killed the Electric Car? (2006)" This was - Director: Chris Paine

Writer:Chris Paine

Release Date:4 August 2006 (UK) more view trailer
Genre:Documentary more
Tag line:In 1996, electric cars began to appear on roads all over California. They were quiet and fast, produced no exhaust and ran without gasoline...........Ten years later, these cars were destroyed. more
Plot Outline:A documentary that investigates the birth and death of the electric car, as well as the role of renewable energy and sustainable living in the future. more
Plot Synopsis:This plot synopsis is empty. Add a synopsis
Plot Keywords:Environmental Activism / Greed / Inventor / Protest / Oil Industry more
Awards:2 nominations more

Everyone must watch this - It was GM... They should be charged with inhibiting justice, liberty, and destruction of the environment. Inhibiting the American forward progression. They have obstructed opportunity of the People of the United States of America to expand on the Environmental Challenges that could progress us all into a better way of living and leading the rest of the world in a forward progression, They should be Charged. Well Im sure they a guilty of something here.

Lance

September 10, 2007 6:04 PM

I have A lot of information on my site about the new Smart car. The smart will be available in early 2008. check it out..
http://www.smartfourm.com

PEC-Memphis

October 22, 2007 5:50 PM

Yeah, went to Germany, saw the SmartCar - really wanted one - then did some research. They really don't get superior mileage for the compromises they make - around 40-50 mpg (USA - don't be fooled by unit conversions). The long term reliability is not very good. (Not as bad as a french car, but a Ford Model "A" is more reliable than a french car). And contrary to what some have posted, the SmartCar was not "blowing by" everything on the autobahn - they were in the slow lane with all of the speed limited tractor-trailer rigs. (Yes that was me in the Mec C-Class TDI in the middle lane at 225 km/h). And they were not designed by Swatch, Swatch had the "concept" but not knowing anything about car design/manufacturing they formed a joint partnership with Daimler-Mercedes who was already performing feasibility studies for a micro-compact car. The Swatch group set unachievable goals for price, technology and economy; the venture experienced “heavy losses” and Swatch pulled out. The car has been under some division of Daimler ever since. From 2003-2006 the “Smart” division has lost some 4 Billion Euros (5.7 Billion USD) – do you think it will be “Smart” for Daimler AG to keep making this car? Oh, and for all you “tree huggers”, it’s not the greedy “Big” oil companies and republicans (the same thing in your mind) keeping the SmartCar out of the US – it can’t pass the US safety and emissions standards (yet) – Europe is not so “green” afterall.

Yeah, drove a Prius at work. Not a bad car. Expensive to buy. Gasoline will have to reach $4.25-4.50 USD a gallon to break even with a reasonably effiencent gasoline-only counterpart. It gets about 42 mpg combined. The people here who think that a Prius and a SmartCar going to get 60-70 mpg are just delusional.

Now take a look at the UK Honda Accord 2.2 i-CTDi Sport. Four real seats, a real trunk – real fuel economy (76 mpg autobahn, FIA monitored), top speed over 130 mph and 19 speed records in class. And no, “big oil” isn’t preventing it from coming to USA – it’s those dang “tree-huggers” again – with ever increasing emission standards for diesels (something the “green” europeans tend to let slide a little). If all indicators are correct, Honda will be introducing (2009?) a turbodiesel which will meet ULEV standards and will be provided superior emissions reduction technology than Bosch (Blutec).

Or you could wait for the VW 1-liter car, at approximately 250 mpg. But here’s a car with some real compromises and VW reliability that’s not up to par with Honda or Toyota. It may really never come.

pec-memphis

October 23, 2007 7:02 PM

I'd like to make a correction to my earlier post, which helps explain the reliability issues with the SmartCar. It's made in Hambach......France.

Denis Malin

November 15, 2007 12:35 AM

Thank you!
--for saying what I wanted to say; we are a nation of fat spoiled ninnies who would whine if they weren't able to drive their Hummers.

It's time to get back to what we as Americans do best: INVENT.

Let's not wait for the glacially slow automotive, and worse yet, oil industries to help us out.

The best inventions are made by mavricks; Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak - the Personal computer.

We have, and have had, the technology for many years to build light-weight production electric and alt-fuel vehicles. We need to say good bye to oil.

Noz

November 16, 2007 8:05 PM

Pec-Memphis, you had something to say and thank you for saying it. So many of these 'postings' amount to little more than targets for male dogs.

The so-called Smart Car is a delusion and snare, 'cute' by female standards, as if women were decent judges of transportation. MB has not exactly covered itself with the glory of reliability in the past decade, of course that was all the fault of the Turks who assembled the German cars. Right? And them-thar rum-runnin' hillbilly Southerners here who did the dirty on the SUVs. Sure as a buck is worth about a quarter these days. Thanks to Jimmah Cottah.

In the ende, just about anything that is built will sell to someone if hyoed sufficiently, PT Barnham has described this oft-quoted and none the less true process.

HONDA has a means of cleaning up its diesels that is superior to that of MB, and we will soon see super-efficient diesel Accords on our roads. I have to add, NOW that our retarded super-bureaucratic/largely Democrat gov't regulatory agencies have mandated low sulfur fuel.

Ralf Korbner

November 25, 2007 1:02 AM

Know several 'car guys', who are now taking the Smart serious after they had a chance to drive it. In the end it will have been one small contribution to required changes in the way we humans manage the earth's resources. Hundreds of millions of Chinese and Indians are close to owning their own car. If all of humanity lived as we North-Americans do we currently would need six earths. Changes are coming. We Americans need to be part of driving the change.

Stephanie

December 4, 2007 7:27 PM

I just thought I'd throw my 2cents worth of comments/opinions.

S-Swatch M-Mercedes ART - Art of course.
(even though the 2005-2006's are IMO VERY unappealing to the human eye)

I really have to agree with Denis; we are all about the Hummers and huge SUVs that my little Honda could drive under.

I'll have to also agree with Memphis. I know of course, Smarts are very popular in Europe, but even I would not recommend purposly driving the Smart on the Autobahn. Of course, it's a safe vehicle whether you're driving at high or low speeds, but the poor beast tops out at 140km/h, maybe a little bit over on a downhill before it's engine starts to scream at you.
They were designed to be fuel efficient, not keep up with the Accords and VW's on the Autobahn.

I've driven on the Autobahn in past trips to Germany and for the thrill of it, did NOT drive a smart car, what's a thrill at 140km/h when I can go 160 with my CRX on Vancouver island?

Noz, in response to your 'cute' by female standards comment, I'm female and I think they're down right hideous. If life and heirarchy depended on how your car looked... well, my choice would definitely not be a smart car.

I work for a Mercedes/Smart dealership and have heard both positive and negative feedback from smart owners.

Personally, if you live in the City, country or on Van. Island like myself, the smarts are perfect if they complement your lifestyle. If you are towing a boat, horsetrailer etc, of course a decent sized pick up will be more useful than a smart, if you need a small commuter car with decent mileage, go smart! Not too mention if you are eldery, want something practical that doesn't have a front end sticking out 10 feet, SMART =)

Jim Brown

December 5, 2007 11:58 PM

The Smart car will be a huge success in the U.S. Great mpg, compact, fun to drive and very unique.

geo snow

December 9, 2007 4:19 PM

What about in the snow? Fill me in!!
george

Tia from Denver, Co

December 13, 2007 2:32 PM

Hubby and I have had a Smart since April and we love it. We are getting average of 48 city, 64 mountain and 69 highway. Great considering the cost of gas. Lots of leg room and I feel like I'm in a big car. I love the looks we get. Just have to plan on an extra 10 minutes everywhere we go because of all the questions people ask us in the parking lots. We've named our Kiwi cause we first saw it in New Zealand. And by the way, it goes GREAT in the snow. Now our Envoy sits in the garage.

Steve

December 18, 2007 5:14 PM

There is a Smart Car displayed in a local mall. It lists for around $25K and gets
40/40 mpg.

For comparison, you can get a Honda Civic Hybrid for $26,500 - loaded to the gills. It gets better gas mileage - 42-45 - city highway - and can fit 4 comfortably. It has more power and Honda's famous reliability.

Either they drop the price - or bring the diesel engine over here that gets 70 mpg. Otherwise, they are just wasting their time.

jwight

December 22, 2007 11:44 AM

If anyone is still reading this, current info on the USA version of the smart 451 is available at www.smartusa.com. The list of confirmed dealers will be announced in January and cars for $99 reservation holders should begin delivery during Jan 08. The smart fortwo 451 is being delivered in Canada now; more info at www.thesmart.ca The cars you see on sale for $25K or so are previous versions (smart fortwo 450) imported via grey market and converted to meet US safety and emission specs.
Finally, smart car dealers will have demonstrator cars available, but if you want to reserve a car go to the www.smartusa.com site - the $99 reservation program is still open (although at this point you may end up with a 2009 car as there are over 30K reservations for the 2008 model.)

Frank Shaffer

December 31, 2007 11:13 PM

I'd buy a Smart in a minute if it had a Turbo-Diesel in it. Automobile just tested the Smart and 31mpg. was the best. In Canada all they have are the Diesels and they get about 70+mpg. My Benz 05 CDI get me 38 average and it's a big car, not a put,put. Let's get the Lupo VW here and see some real mpg's. Maybe the new 500 FIAT Diesel would be the ticket. Wake up America and get those Diesels here like in Europe.

Frank Shaffer

December 31, 2007 11:23 PM

A second thought on the Smart in the USA. It's not the same chassis, it's 8 inches longer and with a Japanese engine not the original. That extra 8 inches will make it stick out more than a big cars width. Let's demand Diesel only.

MichaelMcEvoy

January 9, 2008 9:50 PM

Is there any way to get the diesel smart car in the US or into the US

smart

January 9, 2008 10:54 PM

Thanks for creating this great article on the smart, I would like to personally invite you to the new smart site just launched.

The new smart website is focused on the 451 smart fortwo ( 2008 smart car ) and its web address is: http://www.451s.com

451s.com was created to help bring together worldwide smart owners and smart enthusiasts. While this site is focused on the 451 smart fortwo sold in America and Canada it is open to all smart's and the worldwide smart community.

http://www.451s.com

GuyFawkes

January 10, 2008 6:13 PM

I currently drive a VW TDI and love it. I would be very interested in a Smart CDI. I already routinely get 55 mpg with the TDI, so 70+ mpg would be great. The gas car doesn't interest me at all as I won't give up the mpg of the diesel. All I want to know is when are they going to bring them to the US? Trying to get diesels here is like pulling teeth... With fuel prices going up up up it is time for diesels now. Why are we so far behind the rest of the world?

Byronic

January 11, 2008 1:38 AM

"kiley
April 18, 2006 01:14 PM
I weigh about 285 pounds, and stand almost 6 feet tall, so i would have noticed if the leg room and hip room was tight. I thought it was perfectly comfortable."

Thats good the hear. I'm 6 feet tall and can't wait for the Smart car here in TEXAS. I heard that there is a diesel powerd one that gets about 70mph I WANT IT NOW!! I heard theres already a long waitless in the U.S. already too smart for USA HARDLY.

Danquin

January 14, 2008 3:57 PM

For the record, I live in the country, and I still drive a little old 95 honda civic hatchback that I love, still getting over 40 mpg after all these years. I personally have never cared for SUVs.

But folks, I can't condem them, because these simplistic moral distinctions can't fly. Take this as an example: There are plenty of people who have vehicles that are more than they need in general. Maybe they use the capacity only 4% of the time (which would be 1 of every 25 times they drive). Maybe even less. So they buy a small to save gas, and keep the other one garaged most of the time. They feel proud of themselves.

But wait a minute. It COSTS ENERGY TO MAKE A CAR. A LOT of energy. Think smelting ore to make the metal, the electricity to run the stampers and grinders and robots that machine and assemble the cars, all the oil that is put into making the upholstery and foam and tires and plastic parts all over the car, even the cost of gas for the employees to get to work, all those additional employees necessary to accommodate production for everyone who wants a new car every 4 years or so. It's staggering. We justify it because we think it's productive, whereas we think of gasoline as just expenditure. But it's energy, either way. There's no difference.

How much gas does that Hummer driver, on his or her repeated 3 mile trips, have to burn in order to make up for another car that wouldn't otherwise have needed to exist? (Not to mention the usurpation of all that metal). I don't have figures, but I'd bet it's quite a lot. So expecting everyone to replace their car, again, is not the answer. Keeping the car you have is.

Want to help the environment? Sure, don't buy too much car for yourself. But even more, buy only absolutely as few cars as it takes to do what you do. And most importantly: buy used. That vehicle has no production cost anymore.

But people won't like that "buy used" bit, and that reveals the real ugly issue here, why fixing this problem will be difficult: we don't think of cars as tools but as SHINY ACCESSORIES. We won't fix this problem until cars stop needing to be fashion statements to stoke our egos.

Big Bill

January 14, 2008 10:12 PM

I will agree that it's cute, and it's crash test are pretty impressive for a car of it's size. But, if the Smart is such a great and wonderful car why has MB lost so much money in it's production, why have so many workers been laid off, why don't the us MB dealers want anything to do this thing (do they not want their status lowered by carrying this "inexpensive" of a car, and why has MB discontinued production of all models except the 2 seater? I would be worried about parts distribution (and pricing), especially since it looks like selling the Smart in the US may be a "last gasp attempt" by MB to recoup some of it's losses before they cease production on this version too. Also, why is the US version 8" longer than the European one? Is it because Americans think they have to have something bigger than everyone else?

I like it's style and it's size, but after examples set by Daihatsu and Daewoo, I'm leery of it's potential longevity, especially with other cars already on the market getting nearly as good gas mileage.

Bob from central PA

January 22, 2008 10:43 AM

I've checked out the dealer list. I am very interested in the Smart Car, but the closest dealer is three hours away. If I would purchase this car, is it possible to get service and warranty work done at a closer location?

Weetus

January 24, 2008 7:26 PM

When it comes to the necessity for a large car or truck you can actually RENT one. The Smart is a great option for my wife and I who own only one car right now, an Element... which, despite being kind of ugly is the most versatile car I've ever owned. I test drove a Smart the other day and they feel surprisingly as big as any other car on the inside (unless you're talking about a Mercedes sedan). Don't forget that as far as gas mileage there is also the Yarus two-door with a lot more storage space, or if you're not a woosie that feels safe with a lot of metal around you there is always a motorcycle or a scooter... or a bicycle (which get the best gas-mileage of all).

Michael

January 28, 2008 4:37 PM

Hi,
I moved to Texas about 3 years ago. I lived all my life in Europe ( Germany ) and drove more or less fancy cars. 7 series BMW`s , Carreras , Supra`s and so on. Ever since the Smart car came out I was thinking about geting me one of those convertibles but never did. A friend of mine who was driving a Carrera too at that time actually bought one for his wife after he got his quarterly bonus check. But believe it or not he ended up driving this little sucker on a daily basis. He told me that he was getting more attention in it than in his Porsche . Not to talk about the money he saved. Well even at gas prices at 6 or 7 bucks per Gallon we never really paid too much attention to this detail since we made enough to afford those big cars but still if you take a moment and think about it what a huge waste of resources it is to drive a big car.
Well I rented one for a week just for the heck of it and was hooked. I am 6,3 and 235 pounds but I never felt uncomfortable in it. And when I brought it back I put something like 35 bucks worth a gas in it. After a week !!! Before Smart my average week cost me maybe 250 bucks.
Buttom line is the Smart is not the solution to this worlds problems. But it sure makes a lot of sense for the majority of the people out there. Especially for all those Soccer Moms with their ( not even fancy or impressive , just big and ugly ) Tahoes or Expeditions. Oh and if you keep asking stupid questions about what if u get hit by a Truck ; ask yourself when you got hit by a Truck the last time. It never happened to me. Not even after 25 years and over a Million miles on the road. 85 % of all accidents happen in inner city traffic at speeds smaller than 20 miles an hour. And do some research. They Crash tested the Smart with an S-Class. Frontal offset crash at 45 miles per hour. You will be surprised.
But all this discussion does not help a bit if the only ( and propably most important ) reason for buying one of those big ugly monsters is your lack of confidence. Believe me , if that`s motivation enough for such a purchase you are propably one of those losers who get their home foreclosed or live in a " kindly expressed " less nice neighborhood.
"As long as I can roll in style who gives a flying ratsass about my kids eating dry bred."

Richard Coppola

February 14, 2008 4:59 AM

I ask myself these questions seriously as to why buy this car NOW? Please do not get me wrong, I love the conept/style!
Not one question here noticed about only will use premium gas, and depending where one is at not all stations carry premium....also, with an 8+ gal. capacity....Cost affective with
only a 2 year warranty?
Where does one go for any maintenance? As one person stated.. back to original place of pickup?

Barry

February 17, 2008 2:17 AM

I test drove one yesterday and plunked down my $99 deposit. It was fun to drive plenty of interior room, handles great, enough cargo space for two medium size suitcases, at $13,500 and 40mpg you can't go wrong. The only drawback is the 1 year wait for delivery..

Pete

February 24, 2008 7:48 PM

Come on, My sneakers don't weigh much less. Why only 40+ mpg. This should be over 60 mpg. I drove a 1982 chevette diesel that got 52 mpg and it was much larger. 26 years later we can't do better?

Tom

March 1, 2008 12:35 AM

My sister in law just took delivery of a smart car. So I thought I'd better bring myself up to speed.
The extra cost of premium gas will eat up quite a chunk of that 40mpg savings.
Turbo chargers are not exactly a low maintenance item ether. I know a chap involved in developing materials for turbo chargers. The problems are awe inspiring, and haven't exactly been solved.
For my own short trip needs I've found a vehicle that is efficient, extremely high tech, has a cool paint job, is environmentally friendly, and best of all ludicrously easy to park.
It's called a bicycle. Since it's a relatively high end bike, it is also over priced.
Note that with an inexpensive trailer, it will carry as many groceries as a smart car.
Thus I have an expensive but useful toy, and $10,000 left over to buy other toys!

Carrie Chishol

March 19, 2008 6:19 PM

I just saw one on my way home from work today- 19 March 08 and I live in the St Louis area closer to Scott AFB. Where can I go to look at one??????

Brian Cebrian

March 24, 2008 2:17 PM

Comments on the turbo and the low fuel economy. MB was worried that the Euro 800cc turbo diesel was too weak for the US roads so we don't get that. We get a 1ltr gas engine with about twice the acceleration than the Euro Turbo Diesel. The US EPA has gone to a more realistic MPG evaluation system. In the old system the smart was rated at 40/46, 36/41 in the new system. The guys at smart told me they are working on a Diesel that can meet US standards for the future. Engine development is expensive and I suspect they are waiting to see if the car is a success here before they put too much into the diesel version. Those of you that have older cars that get great mileage and wonder what happened to them. There again you have to point at the EPA and the green lobby. Clean doesn’t necessarily mean efficient. Lastly on the French or Italian engine comment. The engine for the US Smart is a German engine. I have one on order, for about 15K US I'm getting good mileage in a little car that will work great around Hampton Roads Virginia and those little city streets in Norfolk. I'm not a big fan of Hybrids.

Pat Mail

March 29, 2008 5:16 PM

I've owned a Smart Car 4 Two over a year. I LOVE it! Good on gas and very socializing - everyone wants to talk about it. From the front it smiles at everyone. The front seating area is as commodious as any larger vehicle. I feel safe in tis car and pleased to be only filling it twice a month. I pity the SUV that fills up next to me withn a bill of $75 or greater, while I drive off with a $25.00 tab. Use it for everything in town. Vive Smart Car!

kim taylor

March 30, 2008 10:01 AM

were can you buy one of the car and the price.

JRO

March 31, 2008 11:38 AM

I just put $99 down and hope to have my car by December. I got mine in Indianapolis, my wife and I both drove it and were very pleased. I drive about 70 miles a day round trip to and from work, this was suppose to be a commuter for me, but on the way home my wife decided it was hers. She's willing to give up her SUV....she liked it that much.

Sue

March 31, 2008 8:33 PM

I just bought one in Boise, Idaho. It is the passion cabriolet. Red convertible/ sooooooo cute. Got insurance for it for only $223. for 6 months. sue

Kong

April 4, 2008 1:59 AM

Any reservation towards safety should be put to rest.

I saw the outcome of a head on collision with a cement trailer right outside where I was working at the moment. The rd meets at the point of highest speed. The senior citizen that was driving the Smart, walked away.

I would buy one in Malysia if the prices aren't inflated.

James

April 12, 2008 1:54 AM

Reading the older posts, I am struck by how many of the negative comments and predictions were well off the mark.

I put 500 miles on my 2008 451 Passion coupe this week and am enjoying it immensely. It drives a little like a shifter kart and is a ball to tool around in. As the weight, rear engine, power, and basic layout are similar to the classic Porsche 356 Speedster, what else would you expect?

I calculated 49 MPG on my first fill (freeway driving at 65-70 MPH), 44 MPG on the second (mixed driving) - much better than the EPA estimate.

The Mitsubishi engine feels strong and durable but I am reserving judgment on the clutch and the Getrag transmission. If the clutch goes 100K miles without problems I'll be surprised, but I've been wrong before. I'd prefer a manual clutch but overall I'm very pleased and learning to adapt my driving style.

peter Brandenberg

April 12, 2008 3:29 PM

I purchased the 2008 Cabriolet convertible in March. The first car I was sold, never left the dealer, as the top got stuck mid-way and even their Smart Car head mechanic couldn't find the problem. 2 Days later I was offered another that I tested and found it to be excellent. But the gas milage has be very disappointment. I've filled the tank 4 times. The best I had was only 32 the past 2 tanks were at about 27.5 mpg. The dealer and the president of Smart Car USA has told me that was not unusual. Huhhh?? Also I would have expected DRL - but not in these cars, who I feel need it more than any other for it's size. And here in NY we are required to have lights on during the rain. If I forget, I can get a ticket. Yet I enjoy that the wipers go on and off automatically as needed. And at the night the lights go on, but I feel like my SAAB and Acura they should always be on as all the Canadian and European models do. peterbra@mac.com Mt. Kisco, NY

Christine

April 26, 2008 9:33 AM

Where is the electric car? Gas using cars are NOT the cars of the future...it is just more foot dragging. As many have pointed out we already have cars that get mileage as good as or better than the Smart Car. It is just another attempt at selling toys to Americans. I recently read an article about a guy who put solar panels on his roof and bought an electric car ...both for $45,000. What's more it runs his household and he is actually making money in the form of energy credits from his electric company. We should refuse to buy from the automakers until they give us the real cars of the future and we need to lean on our gov't until they give us decent incentives to make the switch. After all we are talking not only about oil shortages but the environment. If we do much more damage to the earth driving will be a non issue ...we will have much larger elephants in the room to deal with. Americans need to unite and stand firm...no electric cars...no money to the automakers and no more years in congress to those who do not heed our call.

GetWithTheProgramUSA

April 28, 2008 6:42 PM

The best electric you can get soon is the Phoenix. It will be about $45k though. GM will finally release their Volt in 2010 for about the same price. Its pretty sad with all the technology today that we are still seeing about the same levels of gas mileage from 20 years ago and that battery technology, even though vastly improved, is not integrated into the cars.
As for the article, he could have written it in two sentences. It provides no real info except for his tastes.

Allan

April 30, 2008 12:46 AM

I am interested enough in the Smart4Two to have put down $99 for the reservation fee. The car itself is somewhat in-expensive by automotive standards. However, I am hearing that the dealers are trying to sell add-ons such as a $1600 extended warranty ( that seems VERY steep for a modestly priced car), an $850 add-on to cover chipping and cracking of the rather thin body panels, and some sort of tire warranty that is supposed to cover the lawn-mower wheels that serve as tires. The local dealer also informed a local buyer that the Smart4Two does not have a spare (common knowledge) but does come with a can of some sort of tire fixer/sealer. It will get you home, but destroys the integrity of the tire in the process so that the tire has to be replaced. Anyone else hear of these types of stories?

K

May 5, 2008 5:29 PM

Just drove a Passion this weekend. This was the roomiest front seat of any car I had ever been in. The windows are huge too, so you really feel like you're in a bigger car. It didn't have the giddy up and go like you get in a normal car, but it was surprisingly fun to drive. You could fit golf clubs in the front seat and groceries in the back. I even hear there is a special bike rack you can buy for the car.

I want one for everyday driving and save my little SUV for hauling stuff.

Rob

May 14, 2008 8:58 PM

I really wish this wasnt the case, but these are a lost vision.

Its 2008. Theres no reason a car this small (that uses MPG as one of its selling points) should only be getting 40mpg. Thats just pathetic.

Geo Metros from the early 90's got better MPG. Hell, at $13,000 (you HAVE to be kidding) you can get many different cars that get around the same MPG, and seat 4 people/have much better performance.

And the size arguement is not very valid. 8ft is not very small considering its odd size. Volkswagen Rabbit, Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit, and a few others are only inches longer. If getting into a parking space in Manhattan is being negotiated by inches, then you shouldnt be parking there in the first place.

These cars are a joke, preying on people who think new is better, and cute means good for the environment.

This car should not cost more than $9,000. Even thats too much for its lousty MPG considring its weight class. I'd rather buy a slightly used Yaris or Aveo any day.

CHolman

May 21, 2008 7:37 PM

I had strong interest in the Smart Car until I saw the gas mileage figures. Given the size and weight of this car the gas mileage is very poor at an advertised 41MPG. If you compare this cars proportions to others and their gas mileage, this car should be getting 60-70MPG. There are plenty of other cars out there that offer much more car for similar MPG. I just found an old advertisement from 1976 for the Nissan/Datsun B210 economy small car that was very popular in the U.S., it was also rated at 41MPG. That's terrible progress for 30 years of auto advancements.

Peed OFF in Chicago

May 22, 2008 8:45 PM

What a ripoff! Weren't these cars supposed to sell for under $5k each? Anytime an idea for a cheap car comes to the forefront the American Car Manuafactures steal the rights to these cars and then turn around and mark up these cars to sell for the same prices as the garbage sitting on the car lots. It obviously makes you think twice about buying these "economically feasible" cars when you can get something which gets a few miles less per gallon for roughly the same price or less (and more roomier mind you). American car manufactures DO NOT want you buying cars for under $5k which would prompt you avoid their hunks of junk and NEVER look back. P'd off in Chicago!

Jared Brown

May 28, 2008 10:01 PM

I met a guy and his wife in Florida who had just driven their Smart car from Canada claiming 70-80 miles a gallon. I was sold. But now...come on. What happened? Smart car comes to the USA...mileage drops to 40mph and a price tag of 13,000 base...please. Makes me want to move to Europe where I think the car does get 70-80 mph and cost about half. Ya, that's an improvement...a Smart car for 6 grand that gets 80 miles mph. We can walk on the moon but in 100 years of automotive technology can't accomplish this. Think I'll build a shell around my scooter, add a third wheel, put studs on in the winter...or do like Forrest Gump and just ffnn jog to work.

joe

June 5, 2008 5:06 PM

smarts here in england are going on ebay at the mo for around 3 grand (£3000) the tax is 20 quid (£20) a year and can do 414 miles on a tank of petty(gas) that is from saf(south) london to scootland the smart person would get a gas conversion, or get that american fella who converted his car to run on water (that your army bought the rights to i think (a welder seperates h from h2o then again to make hh2 or summink))

Duffy Steiner

June 11, 2008 12:00 AM

i just saw the smart car today on the net and am very intrested, but im getting the idea that the US it self discourages better gas milage simply because of all the emmisson stuff, like its been said on here greener is not better all the time, i think the US has gone overboard on the 'green thing" i presently have a VW Beetle diesel and get in the low 40's, id just so love a diesl smart car that got in the 60 to 70 mpg range, but people be for real the US car companies will NEVER let that happen because if they did, they would be out of business, i also agree with people on here that the US has got to get a lot smarter about gas mileage cars, ill be able to reserve a smart car in a yr or so and i cant wait, even in its present form its better, but maybe ill wait for the diesl, later all

Elmer Klaber

June 17, 2008 12:18 PM

Picked up my smart on Tuesday last, in Louisville Ky. I do about 100 miles per day in delivery driving. Now have 600 miles on the car. Have spent at least 20 minutes in every place I stop. People just surround the car. The largest person to sit in the car was about 6'1" 320 pounds and said he felt comfortable with the room. The first tank got about 34 miles per gallon, the second tank 37. I am still on the third tank and it looks as though the mileage will be in the low 40's non this tank. The milage will improve up to the 7500 mile mark. Service recomendations on oil changes are every 10,000 miles. It is wonderful to drive. Has more than enough power on the Xpressway. I have driven a Toyota Rav 4 for 11 years and is drives, rides and handles comparable to this car on the road. It does fine on hills as well. There are always na sayers when anything new comes along. Most of the postings are by people that have never even seen a smart car, little lone driven one. I write for a magazine that is published in Paris France and first saw the smarts some 7 years ago while in France. My editor offered to purchase one for me and ship it to the US but due to saftey regs I was not alloed to ship it in to the US. I have been waiting for 7 years for this car, and now I have one at last.
I have no complaints.

Oscar Orozco

June 23, 2008 8:02 PM

I need more info on this car who makes it? what motor it has? is it a 4 cilynder or 3 cilynder?

justin drake

July 17, 2008 12:48 AM

Mr. Kiley..... You should learn your history.It wasnt twenty five years ago that the same left wing,U.S. hating,kooks thought we were having global cooling.Gio history has taught us the global cooling and warming happen naturally.Get off your high horse and get on the next (gas gussling plane)to france.....

[Editor note: This post was edited to delete expletives, but not poor spelling.]

Dustin

July 21, 2008 9:34 PM

Aside from the uneducated political propagandist drivel... You're mostly right. We can buy the gas powered 'smart' car, which is very dumb actually... But the EPA has had a vendetta against Diesel. But you're, again, wrong about why. If you've ever read the rule-making and laws that the EPA operates on, it becomes clear, very quickly, that these people don't have even a rudimentary understanding of how internal combustion engines work.

Diesel engines were never intended to run on fossil fuel to begin with, the true name is "compression detonation" engines. they can run on a variety of hard-to-restrict-and-tax fuels. Biodiesel is also a silly scam, it's 50% fossil fuel Methanol. The other 50%? Vegetable oil; which a diesel engine can run on without wasting the time/money/fossil fuel involvement of making biodiesel.

The fuel systems are intentionally designed so that they cannot handle the thicker fuel, and you are, if not very creative, forced to buy fuel from a fossil fuel supplier.

If you dare have the ingenuity to get around this, and use a Diesel engine as it was intended (by Rudolph Diesel, the guy who invented it and ran it on peanut oil), to run on unadulterated vegetable oils; off to prison with you.

And guess who's doing it? The supposed environmentalists of the Left Wing... The EPA still refuses to test engines on biofuels, and force them to be tested on the lowest quality fossil fuels available. With a severe prejudice against Diesels that suggests, at bes, a total lack of education or understanding. At worst, a deliberate derailment of the best idea in transportation since the wheel.

Way to go hippies, you screwed us all again while pointing your finger at the Republicans... Like they're even smart enough to figure it out?

LARRY

July 22, 2008 6:25 AM

WE BOUGHT ONE AND USE IT AS A GOLF CART.
WORKS GREAT, ALL THOUGH A LITTLE HEAVY
FOR THE GREENS. NICE NOT HAVING TO RECHARGE IT.

Andrew

July 28, 2008 2:35 PM

My wife and I stood in line for 2 hours to test drive a SMART through the streets of Baltimore during the SMART car tour last August (2007). As background, I'm not a small guy - I work out heavily, and at the time I weighed about 238 at 6' tall. For an idea of how I'm built, think Terrell Owens (NFL). 18" neck, wear a 52L jacket, 34" waist.

My experience with small cars (including our current Mercedes SLK) has been that they're okay for short rides, but anything longer than 45 minutes become very uncomfortable - both in terms of shoulder room and leg room - and in the case of the SLK, headroom as well. Performance with these cars ranged from non-existant (mitsubishi EXPO LRV) to phenomenal (SLK) and everywhere in between.

While waiting in line, before the test drive, SMART USA repeatedly played a video that showed the crash test of a SMART into a wall, head-on into a Mercedes E class, and one where they rammed the SMART in the side. In no instance was the integrity of the passenger compartment violated. Let's see another 12k vehicle handle a head-on crash with an E-Class!

After a couple of hours, and long conversations with the others in line, I reached the test-drive representative. Instead of my wife and I riding in the same car, we each got to drive a car, and were accompanied by a SMART car rep to explain the features of the vehicle. I sent my wife with the ponytailed guy while I rode with the cute woman.

The SMART, surprisingly, had an abundance of shoulder and leg room. In fact, I had to slide the seat FORWARD to comfortably reach the pedals. In terms of legroom, it reminded me of my Honda CRX Si from the early 1990's (another 2 seater). Headroom was more than ample - even though we have the cabriolet reserved, I test drove the passion (mid-level). I had a couple of inches above my head, plenty of space for my legs, and my left shoulder did not rub against the door. It had the “driver’s seat” space of my old Ford Taurus SHO.

My wife, test driving another passion, liked the visibility while in the car. She's not that tall, only 5' 5" or so, and she said she felt like she was driving her old Jeep Grand Cherokee because the seats sit so high.

The performance wasn’t exhilarating, but it WAS adequate. Given that I'll be driving this car on the streets of Baltimore City, and not racing on the autobahn or driving interstate on I-95, I don't need 0-60 times below 8 seconds and top speeds electronically limited to 155 mph. What I need is a car that can fit into tight city spaces, especially in what's left of a spot after someone in a Ford EXCURSION or GM 1500 / 2500/3500 has taken up more than one space, and a vehicle that gets good mpg in stop & go situations.

I'll buy the first generation US SMART with the gas engine - even at 12k. Previous posters commented on the price being very high compared to chevettes and Datsun B210's, but look what you receive - start-of-the-art safety features, including electronic stability control, ABS, front and side curtain airbags, the safety cell, etc.

Fuel economy, although not 60-70 mpg, is pretty impressive - for those of you who doubt it, take a sampling of the next 5 people who walk past you and ask each of them about their average mpg figure for the vehicle they are currently driving. 45 mpg is 50% higher than what I currently get with my Ford Focus, and that is even after the EPA messed up the efficiency with all the additional emissions requirements. When the diesels come out, I'll sell my little gas powered SMART for a diesel powered SMART, and put a Greasel kit into it to run WVO. It'll be faster (more torque) and more efficient.

So, as a future SMART owner who has sat in, touched, felt, and driven the SMART Fortwo passion, I ask the rest of you who comment to please base your comments on fact – not conjecture; and experience – not “belief”. Thanks! Have a SMART day!

Tom

August 30, 2008 10:33 AM

My wife and I went on a trip to Italy and France last year and saw the Smart Car for the first time, loved it Unfortunately they were not yet for sale in the US. We heard they would be for sale here in about a year and for $99.00 we could go on a waiting list,the deposit fully refundable if we changed our minds. When they arrived in Boston we went to the dealership and took it for a test drive, we were hooked. Well, long story short, we love it. My wife doesn't even drive our other cars, she loves it so much. I never feel like I'm in a a small car with no behind. The leg room, comfort, and storage in back is great. Both our kids now have one. I heard they have them in a diesel engine and the mileage is amazing. I'll be first on the waiting list when they come to the States.

Hugo Lee

September 8, 2008 8:37 PM

We bought our SMARt the weekend of July 4th of 2008. I use it to drive to work every day, about a 55 mile R/T. I have been averaging 42.3 mpg and love the SMART. A full convertible, CD player, heated seats, ABS, EPS and a built in safety cage with plenty of room for two, what a great mode of transportation.

tom berge

September 20, 2008 6:32 PM

Very disappointed! Sent my $99 a long time ago, almost no communication except for questions about color and model wanted. Never could pin down a delivery date. Real that "09 models would deliver in December so I called Denise at Mission Viejo, Calif., who advised that "my car" would be delivering soon. I told her that since it was almost model year end, I would just skip to a 2009 model, even though I realized that it might cost more. This lady was not much of a PR person. She just said that that didn't work for Smart and that I should just call some number that she furnished (it was an incorrect number)and get my $99 back, then start all over again. This seemed rediculous to me. Here I am ready willing and able to buy a car when the '09 models roll off the line after a six month plus wait and this lady just says "too bad". I guess after prior purchase of three Mercedes, I was used to a little better customer relations but I guess that's not the Smart way. Anyway, after calling back and getting the correct number, I called it and said that I wanted an '09.
That lady too advised me that I had to take the '08 or go back to the beginning of the line. I told her to return my $99. I had been a real booster of the Smart but my experience with the sales/order takers department has soured me. Maybe you'll get some competition oneday soon and rev up PR.
Tom Berge (bergeco@gmail.com)

sam

March 18, 2009 3:58 PM

ok,
humans causing global warming is a hoax. every scientist that has done the research agrees. why does this garbage have to play into the topic?
the point is the real truth is that pollution kills. in new york state alone 20,000 people die a year from pollution related illnesses. stop lying to the people about humans causing global warming. if you keep lying eventually people will stop listening. when they stop listening they wont beleive or act upon something that is really true. this will pose a terrible danger to many people in case of a real serious catastrophe.
back to the topic. i couldnt agree more. those oversized gas guzzlers are polluting our country. they are causing gas prices to rise and creating congestion on highways and streets and parking places. smart would be a great idea. but why is is so expensive??!!! 18 grand for a barebone 2 seater golf cart? comon. a car like this shouldnt cost more than 7 grand. if gm or one of the big 3 were really smart(pun intended) they would manufacture a car just like this that is affordable. it would sell like hotcakes. but of course they wont. so let them go out of business. let a car maker come along that will want to make money and at the same time be environmentally friendly

Claudia

July 11, 2009 12:05 PM

I have had my Smart car since march 2008. I love it. People are still asking about it. It drove great in the snow last winter and even better in the summer with the top down. mpg is 35-40.
My husband and I fight over who gets to take it for the day!! It drives great on the highway. We've taken it on short trips 600-700 miles. Plenty of room for suitcases and golf clubs. Thanks Smart for a fun car to drive!!

Julieta

August 24, 2009 10:59 PM

I just got a Smartfor2 two weeks ago. Turn in my clunkers for it....It is great and people are noticing me all the time on the road. I feel very safe. It runs great and uses very little gas. I am the envy of the neighbordhood and work place.

The Smart Center where I bought (in Hendersonville TN near Nashville) has sold around 150 in the two months they have been opened.

My only complain is that is does not come with a cruise control. Any ideas where to buy one?

Joe

August 24, 2010 7:21 PM


The car is great, the service is awful.
Expect to pay what you save in gas in service charges. Maybe that's the cost of being green. 2006 Diesel owner. Canada

Randy

December 24, 2010 10:35 PM

I own a 2006 Smart fortwo Diesel with 64,000km on it. I save about $400 a month in gas from not taking my Toyota 4Runner to work. I have not really had any problems with the car, I feel like I should tint the windows because I get to shy at lights with people staring at me... I have had one lady (the town nut case) run up to my car as I was sitting at a traffic light and comment on how cute the car was... thanks, I guess. Girls seem to love the car, never thought of it as a chick magnet but seems to work better then my motorbike, or using my nephew. I had a starter problem and called 1-800-smart. Free towing, changed the starter for free, also noticed I needed a ball joint changed for free and then the car was washed for free too... great people at Mercedes. Living in Montreal Canada on cold days it will not warm up unless you drive it, at -10 or less I plug it in with the handy block heater it came with. Had to change the headlight bulb at -20 last week, that was fun. Good car, good gas mileage, good for picking up girls and even better for not offering people a ride home (sorry, I have no room... I drive a smart car). No fat people, car can only hold 500lbs of driver and passenger occupancy. Oh and if I hear one more smart car joke...SMACK!

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