I don't get the Smart Car

Discussion in 'Mercedes-Benz' started by seanof30306, Sep 24, 2008.

  1. seanof30306

    seanof30306 Member

    Ok, before the flames start flying, there is no hateration here. I love the idea of the Smart Car.

    Every day, I'd drive to work in my Jeep Cherokee, and think how wasteful it is to haul one person around in a 4000lb vehicle.

    So, I bought a motorcycle, and every time I stop off at the store to pick up a few things on the way home from work, I think about how much grief it is to ride a bike as daily transportation (especially when it rains!)

    A small, two-seater with room for a little bit of cargo is the perfect compromise.

    But, with a car that small, with a sub-1 litre engine, even the 55 mpg some hypermilers appear to be getting out of it is just unacceptable, especially when you're required to run premium fuel in it. My 1990 CRX HF got 45 mpg, and I'd never heard of hypermiling. I treated the throttle like an on/off switch, either idle or flat out, and revved it till the lifters floated in every gear. It's 1.5 litre engine was faster than a Smart Car, it held more cargo, and I could frequently stuff an unconscious fraternity brother in the rear area, allowing it to carry three drunks comfortably. It just amazes me that 18 years of technological development hasn't improved on that little CRX.

    When you look at going green, there are two main concerns; saving resources, and saving money. The Smart Car clearly saves resources, burning less of a non-renewable resource, gasoline, but the premium fuel requirement means you're paying .20 more per gallon. That goes against the grain when it comes to saving money.

    You shouldn't have to give up that much power and have to run on premium gas. The Mini One gets 50+ mpg. On regular gas. They're in the process of certifying it for the US market.

    In my opinion, the Smart Car is a great idea, that needs a little more refinement. When they come up with one that gets 60+ mpg on regular gas, I'll be first in line to buy one

    Till then, I'll keep freezing my butt off on my bike.
  2. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi Seanof30306:

    ___You have to look at it another way… Is the Smart Fortwo more comfortable than your Jeep? Probably so as here is a pic of Sean (all 6’-6” of him) behind the wheel of one in LA.


    ___Second item… If you have ever driven a Smart Fortwo, you will find out how much more attention you will receive vs. just about anything else this side of a Viper or Ferrari. They are like eye magnets… Read the following and you will know what I am writing about: CleanMPG Previews the 2008 SMART Fortwo

    ___Next item. It can carry groceries and run year round without you getting cold.

    ___Finally, it is not your everyday automobile. A Yaris or Fit makes more sense for a lot of reasons including both the fuel and the utility as has been discussed many times in the past here at CleanMPG.

    ___A Smart Fortwo is no different than someone purchasing a beautiful but impractical Pontiac Solstice or a 200 + mph capable ZR1. Both of these automobiles include far less room than a Smart Fortwo? In the case of the ZR-1, where are you going to drive 200 + mph as well?

    ___Good Luck

  3. seanof30306

    seanof30306 Member

    Well, this Sean is 6'5", and I fit just fine in my Jeep; it's one of the reasons I bought it.

    And I couldn't disagree more with your statement that a Smart Car isn't an everyday car. That is exactly what it's supposed to be. 90+% of average driving in the US is in cars carrying two people, or less. The whole concept behind the Smart Car is to be an inexpensive commuter car; a daily driver.

    In this country, we tend to buy vehicles with the worst-case scenario in mind. Take me, for example. The primary reasons for buying my Jeep were 1: I liked the way it looked, ans 2: it had all-wheel drive, so I could always get through in bad weather. It worked out well for me, I've never been stranded or been unable to get where I needed to go due to snow, ice, or rain. I've had the Jeep for 12 years. I've used the all wheel drive less than 20 times. Let's round it off and say I've used it for one month of my 144+ months of ownership. That means I've utilized the all wheel drive less than 1% of the miles I've put on it. Now, my Jeep is long paid for, and fully depreciated, so, once a car is available that meets my new set of needs, I'll buy it, and put a tarp on the Jeep till it snows. Much more efficient.

    Or take my best friend. He has a boat that he keeps docked at a nearby lake. He drives an Excursion because he has to tow the boat out of the lake once per year, and tow it back once per year. All the rest of the time, he's driving over 100 miles per day at 12mpg. I recently pointed out that it would be a lot cheaper to get an economical car, and rent something to tow the boat twice per year.

    Our economy's been booming, and gas has been cheap, so we here in the US believe we can't get by without our big vehicles. In Europe, they know better, because gas has been so much more expensive there, for a long, long time. 10 years ago, my girlfriend paid 6 bucks a gallon for gas in Germany.

    Now, when the Smart Car was originally redesigned for the US market, gas was a lot cheaper, and it was believed that the US market's obsession with horsepower required they stroke the engine. Things are different now. Mini, for example, originally didn't bring the Mini One to the US market because they believed the lower fuel prices and the US's horsepower fever would equal minimal demand for it. I emailed them about the car lsat week, and was told they've been inundated with emails about it in recent months, and have begun the process of getting the Mini One certified for the US market.

    If the Smart Car is going to be successful in the US market, it has to be accepted for it's original design purpose, to be an everyday commuter car, not an eco-version of a Corvette; a weekend special. I looked at one at a dealership the other day. The salesman told me the biggest reactions to the car were surprise at the EPA MPG ratings (people feel they're too low), and the fact that a "green" "economy" car has to have premium gas. I heard the same thing a few months ago at the Mini dealer.

    Perception is reality; the first rule of marketing. The second rule of marketing is, if you have to explain it, or sell it, you've already lost the battle. While people in this country are getting greener every day, the greatest driver in demand for cars like this is a desire to save money. Everything about this car is directed towards developing that perception; the low sticker price, the percieved fuel economy, etc. The Smart Car is designed to be a very cool Yugo. Regardless of how hip and sporty it is, the niche the Smart Car is aimed at is economy, and you simply cannot have a successful economy car that must run on premium gas.
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2008
  4. flatty

    flatty Member

    It doesn't sound like you've been in one.

    It's a premium 'city car' - a quality product that is stylish, simple, safe, etc., etc. for the the urban or 'run into the village' country sophisticate. It's not meant to compete with Fits, etc.; motorcycles, yes.
  5. bestmapman

    bestmapman Fighting untruth and misinformation

    Wait for the Toyota iQ due out next year. Same size and seats 4. I wll bet better FE also.
  6. voodoo22

    voodoo22 Cheaper than the bus

    The Smart is German, which means there's plenty of room inside. German cars have to fit Germans after all.

    I think the Smart is a great car, just too much money for us because we don't need a premium type car.
  7. 93Hatch

    93Hatch Well-Known Member

    I agree with a lot of this. The Smart my be good for some, but for me to buy something that small it better get ridiculous FE. Like 60+!
  8. Chuck

    Chuck just the messenger

    My issue is why doesn't an exceptionally small car get exceptionally high FE?

    It's essentially as if the Honda Insight's midsection was sawed off.
  9. jimepting

    jimepting Well-Known Member

    I agree with you Sean. I don't really get it. Of course, I own an Echo - a poor man's Yaris :) I think that it would take 60 MPG to get me interested. Then I could hypermile it into the 70's. Like you say, I too just don't get it.
  10. 93Hatch

    93Hatch Well-Known Member

    I think some are so enamored with the Smart car because they have been duped into thinking for the last 15 years that 30 mpg is great FE.
  11. WoodyWoodchuck

    WoodyWoodchuck Sophomore Hypermiler

    I agree and 93Hatch hit it correct. While the rest of the world lives in the reality of today, we are being convinced that 30 MPG is some sort of magic plateau. To go beyond it is truly miraculous and only a select few vehicles achieve it! Well, one company has 3 vehicles which can achieve 30 MPG or better according to TV.

    I bought my Yaris last month after looking at all the alternatives… at least the ones I could afford. Never drove a smart but did look into them. Didn’t get one due to what I considered very low mileage for such a small vehicle. The Yaris was rated about the same and I get twice the vehicle! Besides, the Yaris was red and everyone knows red cars go faster.
  12. Chuck

    Chuck just the messenger

    Heck, there was a Honda keicar they sold here in 1972 (predecessor to the Civic) that got 100mpg and I'm all but certain the original Beetle got 30mpg!
  13. Right Lane Cruiser

    Right Lane Cruiser Penguin of Notagascar

    The advertisement for the Bug was "Gets an honest 25mpg" but many got mid 30s.
  14. WriConsult

    WriConsult Super Moderator

    I too am disappointed by the FE of the Smart. A car of its size and level of acceleration should do much better. Some weak engineering going on, to be sure.

    From a practical standpoint, most people are better off with a Prius, HCH or VW TDI, all of which get better mpg, hold a lot more and (if you believe car-mag reviews) are more fun to drive. We're sure happy with our hot red Golf TDI, and it's almost as cute as a Smart! ;)

    Of course those cars don't have the park-ability of the Smart. In the city where I live, the tiny size would be beneficial on a regular basis.
  15. hazeldazel

    hazeldazel Well-Known Member

    i see a lot of Smart cars around here too, and I don't get it. They are quite small for American sensibilities but yet they don't get good gas mileage! How do you market that? Here, get rid of your big comfy car and get a teensy car but you're mileage will be about the same as a Civic and worse than many hatchbacks! Granted they're relatively inexpensive, but shouldn't FE be a major factor for the type of person who's gonna want that type of car? I was really excited about them and was SHOCKED when I found out the really mediocre mileage.
  16. southerncannuck

    southerncannuck Well-Known Member

    If I were to try to market the Smart, I would target it to folks that live in big towns with bad traffic and terrible parking, see themselves as having disposable income and want the latest, and point out that it retails for $12,700. That's half the price of a Harley Davidson Electra Glide. That should be a pretty big market. Are they having problems selling them?
  17. southerncannuck

    southerncannuck Well-Known Member

    I forgot to add that it gets about the same mpg as a big bore motorcycle, and cost the same or less than a more pedestrian Yaris or FIT
  18. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi All:

    ___Let us make a clear distinction about fuel efficiency. The Smart Fortwo has a higher EPA rating than every other vehicle available in the US other than the Prius-II and HCH-II. Could it have been more? You bet and a lot more as the Mitsubishi engine is a POS where FE and performance are concerned. That being said, can you find another $12,000 car that can deliver 36 mpgUS on the 08 combined and draw so much attention to itself? Sure the stick versions of the Jetta TDI, Yaris and Fit can be driven to far beyond the fuel economy capability of the manumatic equipped Smart Fortwo but that is not how the masses see it.

    ___When Europe gets there hands on the Toyota iQ, you will see that Mitsubishi mill in the Fortwo replaced about as fast as a stone falls to the floor. You can bet that next gen mill will include much better drivability, more performance and much higher fuel efficiency. If it does not, Toyota simply leaves the Fortwo's parked in dealership showrooms as the brand disappears overnight.

    ___Good Luck

  19. YarSwiss

    YarSwiss C'est quoi 'hypermile' en Francais?

    Just like most American vehicles (and some German ones) the Smart has been designed to be "peppy", and thus engineering was placed in gearing the vehicle for speed, not efficiency. In fact, the car was initially designed by Swatch to be a small, economical, fun car, primarily to act as a fashion statement.

    The problem here is that the Americanized version of the Smart is just utter rubbish. It's a lot heavier, has a bigger engine, has that god-awful lurching manual-auto gearbox, and it is HUGE compared to the 1st gen Euro Smart. Like 1.2 feet longer-huge.

    Unfortunately, the car is not to blame, it is the designers and federal regulations that this country has that have removed any of the original flare this vehicle had, and just made it another exclusive "toy".
  20. basjoos

    basjoos Well-Known Member

    In the owner's manual it said it got an overall mileage of 28mpg. I normally averaged 33mpg in my 68 VW beetle (1500cc), up to 40mpg on a 50mph highway cruise and 27mpg around town.

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