The Smart Car hasn’t been exactly popular here in the USA . Although I’ve never had the chance to drive one, their reputation is not good. I have heard they are slow, have clunky transmissions, and get unspectacular MPG for their small size. For some bizarre reason I still like them.
I took a walk the other day and spotted this one with off road tires and likely lifted suspension. While I’m no off-roader, the approach and decent angles of this little car suggest at least that won’t be a problem. With traffic and pot holes being as bad as they are in our cities lately, maybe this off-road little Smartie actually is the future of urban transportation.
They’re not terrible cars, its just they’re compromised towards being an ultra compact urbo-pod. I drove an electric one and thought it was particularly well suited for that role.
The 4×4 look is cute, maybe its better in the snow. They’re attracting the customizing crowd. Ten minutes ago, a Smart Car drove by that was lowered , with a massive fart-cannon exhaust pipe and the appropriate ear-splitting noise. I now know what a riced-out 3 cylinder sounds like.
To my eyes this would look more natural lying on its side. Not sure how the servo controlled manual transmission would cope with rock crawling.
Anyway, I’m probably being too literal here. There is probably some irony/humour/mockery at play.
No mockery. It’s the real thing.
In 2001 I bought a brand new one: an all options Silverstyle with Blue leather. It was a great little Urban Car; perfect for the digested Netherlands. The small (then) Turbo-engine was fun, it cornered surprisingly well, and to get along with te automised 6 clutch/trans took a trick, few understood: Just before shifting, you had to lift the gaspedal. Once it had shifted you could put the pedal down again. I had no trouble with that at all, but most drivers drove it like a real automatic, and then it used to choke all the time.
Crosswinds were awkward at topspeed. Groceries cooked on arrival …
The 1e and second generation were not fully developed. The original looked Smart: the one that is now on sale drives great with a non turbo engine and a normal clutch but lookes horrid. Soon they all come electric; for the better. It then finally is what it should have been all along: a handy EV.
You’re probably right about the shifting. I’ve driven them rarely, and found the shifting in the 2nd gen units painful and clunky. The 3rd gen, with dual-clutch transmissions, are much, much better.
A friend has a 2nd-gen Brabus-edition, with paddle shifters, which I found intensely frustrating. The paddles promise quick shifts, but you can count two beats before the clutches re-engage.
Not lifting your foot before shifting, makes for a very unpleasant, tiresome shift. The actual time it took the early Smarts to shift, really took not much longer then a ‘normal’ car clutch and shift. The perception of the time it took and the forementioned stalling made it it’s weakest point. Besides the many, many total-engine failures and the cracked panorama roofs that is …
It’s too bad that Smart didn’t bring in their little 2 seat coupe, which at least looked more fun than it probably was.
It has all of the elements for success in today’s automotive marketplace. Command seating position, high ground clearance, aggressive looking tires. Just needs black finished wheels, Jeep painted somewhere on it, …….
I drive these semi-regularly, as Car-2-Go rentals. I can’t see the point in owning one, unless you live where parking is at an absolute premium. But as a platform for a car-share business, they’re brilliant.
But the wheelbase is so short that I find driving them on the smoothest pavement is like riding a buck-board. I can’t imagine a worse platform for actual off-roading.
Before they came over I thought they could be like a replacement for the Honda CR-X.
They were not.