15 April 2007
On the smaller side
I've wanted one since I went to Europe in the summer of 2000 and saw them everywhere. (My friends were taking pictures of architecture and I was photographing Smart cars.) I chose the base model in yellow with black trim, and the only option for the interior color was gray. It will have a 5-speed automated manual transmission, which appears to be very much like the old VW Autostick. (I hope it will work better than the Autostick did.)
The gas mileage is estimated at 40 city/60 highway, which is not that much lower than a Prius. The Smart car costs about half as much as a Prius, and I expect it to hold its value well. I may decide to sell it in a few years and buy a Prius when I get tired of not having a back seat.
It rides well, it holds the road, it maneuvers as if it's controlled by a video-game joystick, and its performance is quite respectable. The U.S.-spec model we drove in Madrid is powered by a 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine that produces 70 hp and 68 lb-ft of torque. That's enough to push the 1654-pound featherweight from 0 to 60 mph in about 13 seconds and on to a governed top speed of 90 mph. Smart expects the car to earn EPA combined fuel-economy ratings of about 40 mpg.
As I've always said: weight is the enemy of fuel economy. And this isn't some little Tonka toy waiting to slide under the bumper of a Peterbilt; US smarts (presumably depending on tire size) are about 61 inches high, a good four to five inches taller than my overwrought luxoboat. On the other hand, you could fit two of them in my one-car garage without having the bumpers touch.
(Via Steph Mineart, who gets to ride in it.)Posted at 7:37 PM to Driver's Seat