Is the Smart Car a good thing?

smart car

Does anyone know the typical longevity?

Would buying one be a good investment nowadays? (Or should I hold out on buying a new car?)

Are there any common problems/complaints?

If you are an owner or have experience with the Smart Cars, testimonies would be greatly appreciated!

9 replies on “Is the Smart Car a good thing?”

The gas mileage on the smart car is not all that great. Besides it is not a safe car to drive. A golf cart seems safer. A better investment would be a corolla or a civic. They get slightly less gas mileage but way better safety rating. plus the places you can take it to get it serviced are everywhere.

There is absolutely nothing Smart about that Car. Most cars survive a ding or dent. Not this one… one ding or dent will send you sailing to parts unknown (from the vehicle) or (pasted to) the interior.

It all depends on your needs – do you need a commuter car to go on short distances or in a crowded city? Then the Smart is quite good.

But for its size, it doesn’t get great mileage, so if you’re going to drive it like any other car, you might as well get any other car.

And despite what some people may suggest, the Smart is quite safe. Those who say otherwise are talking out of their arse and have no clue other than personal biases.

Good investment? No car is a good investment. A car is pretty much guaranteed to depreciate in value as soon as you drive it off the car lot so don’t think of a car an investment. You’ll never get your money back on one.

The Smart is a good car if you look at it for what it is supposed to be…an urban runabout. Keep in mind that it was designed in Europe for European city roads. Many of those roads are very narrow, parking is scarce, and fuel costs are much higher compared to North American standards. For those roads, the Smart makes a lot of sense. It’s great on gas (especially the diesel versions which are available in Europe), it’s easy to manoeuvre in congested areas and that small exterior makes squeezing into parking spots much easier.

What the Smart is not good for is long distance travel. The short wheelbase means that the suspension has to be stiffer but that makes the Smart a handful over bumps (especially at highway speeds). Speaking of highway speeds, while it is capable of keeping up with traffic. Don’t expect much more from it in terms of acceleration while on the highway. It is also susceptible to crosswinds and it is a little on the noisy side. Also, you can have a passenger or luggage (in the pass. seat and footwell) but don’t expect to carry both. The space behind the seats is very limited.

If it’s going to be your only car, a vehicle like a Toyota Yaris or Honda Fit is a better choice. They cost around the same money, use only a little more fuel, but are much more versatile as they have a backseat and more luggage space. If you already have a vehicle but just need a second vehicle as an urban commuter car, the Smart can be a smart choice (yes, pun is intentional).

As for those that say the Smart is not safe, take a look at actual crash tests please. The Smart is actually a very safe vehicle for its size. It’s Tridion safety cell is well engineered and proven to work

It’s too new to have established reliability trends.

The Smart is not very smart. The car is very slow when starting from a stop. It has a harsh ride, clumsy handling, and an automated manual transmission that has the worst gear shift quality of any car made. It shifts slowly, causing the car to pause and heave, rocking the occupants fore and aft. It gets decent mileage but because it requires premium gas fuel cost is actually more than quite a few cars that get lower mileage.

I think it will end up being a terrible investment. Right now it’s a novelty that’s in short supply so they are selling for top dollar but I suspect that in the future when the novelty wears off and there is an adequate supply available the bottom will drop out of their resale value. There are quite a few larger, more comfortable, safer, more powerful, better handling cars that cost less.

The car is a death trap. There is a lot of propaganda about how good it performed in crash tests, but those tests are based on single car accidents into a fixed barrier. In an accident with another heavier car the laws of physics rule. The Smart will get squashed like a bug and the occupants are unlikely to survive.

Here’s my answer with true facts and research, not just opinions.

– To start off the smart has some of the lowest insurance costs in all of the USA.
– Traction is very good in the snow (especially with snow tires.)
– It got some of the highest crash test ratings of all subcompacts
– It is owned by Daimler and Mercedes
– Some drivers with a feather of a foot can reach around 50mpg
– EPA Estimated 33/41 mpg
– Parks anywhere
– Great when gas prices are a killer
– Speed limited to 90mph
– 0-60 in about 12.8 seconds. The fastest recorded was by Motorweek at 12.2 seconds.
– USB 2.0 Upgrade makes the transmission shift faster and smoother.
– Tridion Safety Cell
– Exchangeable body panels that cost not even a fraction of the cost of traditional body parts
– ESP – Uses Bosch Stability Control systems to help keep you from losing control of your smart.
– Hill Start Assist – so you don’t fly back when starting up a hill
– Roomy – It fits some of the biggest people (Shaq bought one)
– Luxury – cabrio model – pano roof – A/C – iPod compatible stereo with optional subs – on 08 and early 09 models had Automatic headlights and automatic wipers
– Halogen Headlights provide the path through the night
– Rear mounted engine – helps to provide better traction to the road. It also eliminates the need for the extra bulky parts required for a front engine. Also without a front engine, the front end of the vehicle could be as space saving as possible
– Side airbags – an add on to the already rigid NASCAR quality safety cell
– Turning radius of 27ft
– Uses synthetic oil
– Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV)
– low MSRP sticker price
– custom made for you or pick up an orphan

There are 4 US trims available, all current model 451 smart fortwo…

The pure – $11,990 – all the essentials, nothing else, not even AC

The passion coupe – $13,990 – the smart in its luxury form, options go on from a premium sound system with tweeters, mid-range, and a subwoofer to the comfort package with leather seating, seat heating, power steering, and fog lamps, panorama roof designed by Bayer Material Sciences is included.

The passion cabriolet – $16,990 – this smart comes with everything that the passion coupe can have but with a cabriolet roof. One touch and the roof will open like a sun roof. Another touch and it’ll move into a full convertible position. This can be done at any speed. To add on, you could remove the upper Tridion Cell bars to full the effect.

The BRABUS coupe and cabriolet – $17,990-$20,990 – BRABUS is just one of Mercedes Benz’s most famous modifiers. The US versions come with an upgraded exhaust system and suspension upgrades along with the BRABUS styling and body kits.

There are more models one could obtain in the USA by the “grey market” These are:

The smart city coupe – this is the original smart fortwo, made for Europe and is imported to the USA by G&K. These come in very limited numbers and are actually shorter than the USA model.

The smart roadster – this is the fastest smart to come off the production line. These had a limited production of only 5,000 models. These were never imported to the USA and got here by other means (military, etc.). These are extremely rare to find in the states and as the numbers aren’t solid, there’s probably less than 50 of these roadsters in the USA, making it a very rare find. They don’t have an electronic limiter so they’re top speed is whatever your red line is in 6th gear. Stock red line is at 125mph.

As for safety the smart has received the highest ratings of all subcompacts. And the smart has received the IIHS highest rating of “GOOD” overall.

In roof crush tests the smart beat the competition by a mile because roof crush is over 9,000 pounds. It earned “GOOD” in this test as well.

‘The smart brand (spelled in lowercase by the manufacturer) is a combination of Swatch, Mercedes and ART. The Swatch company had the idea for removable body panels, but is no longer involved with the smart’. The smart brand continued this idea of low cost, high quality removable body panels to this day.

And because of this, the smart was the only car to pass the IIHS’ 2.5 mph bumper test. The damage caused to the vehicle would have to cost less than $500.The smart’s body panel totaled around $190. All others had failed because of their poorly designed and expensive bumpers.

The smart plant in Hambach, France opened its doors in 1998 rolling the first city coupe off the line. But smart’s roots go all the way back to around 1996 when ideas were rolling and the first “smarts” were on the road.

Additionally, according to Gizmag, the smart brand is the 5th “most reliable” car brand available in the USA. And this is just after only 11 years after smart opened its doors.

Here’s how the smart compares to other fuel sippers:

Through long term testing, the little smart has proven to cost less in the long run than any other full petrol powered vehicle.

Here are my equations for how much I’m saving with a smart compared to a Yaris and a Prius:

smart fortwo: 41mpg after break in (EPA estimate for highway) equates to a 357mi range on one 8.7 gallon tank. At current local gas prices ($2.70 Premium) the smart gets that 357mi with only $23. Not bad, weekly lunch costs more than that.

Okay now to a Prius, estimating 48mpg (EPA estimate for highway) after break in and with an 11.9 gallon tank this equates to a range of 571mi. And with gas ($2.50 Unleaded) it would cost $30. Not bad either, for ten more bucks you could go 200 more miles.

Now to the Yaris, estimating 36mpg after break in (EPA estimate for highway) and with its 11.1 gallon tank it has a range of 399mi (one less than a smart) but it requires extra gallons to reach that and with the gas ($2.50 Unleaded) it will take $28 to fill up a Yaris.

Here are the standings:

Prius – $30 – 571mi – 48mpg
Yaris – $28 – 399mi – 36mpg
smart – $23 – 357mi – 41mpg

Now let’s consider buying price and later purchases (batteries):

Base models:

smart fortwo pure – (automated manual transmission) $11,990 – no A/C – no power accessories (excluding locking), no radio. side airbags included

Yaris – (manual transmission) $12,205 – CD player standard, A/C, side airbags NOT included but are “optional” (receives “POOR” for side impact safety without it)

Prius – (automatic) $22,000 – CD player standard, Eco A/C, side airbags included

Fully Loaded:

smart fortwo cabriolet (convertible) – (automated manual) $20,000 – Navigation with Bluetooth and iPod control, leather seating/heating, fog lamps, security system with immobilizer, power steering. Etc…

Yaris (2 dr coupe) – (automatic) $22,157 – iPod compatible stereo, power upgrades, style upgrades, safety upgrades, security system.

Prius – (automatic) $35,173 – eco friendly materials, navigation, remote start, solar panel cooling.

Prius battery change – every 100,000-200,000 miles/ 8 years at a price of $2,500.

Yearly costs (if driven 1,000mi a month):

Prius – $612 @ 1.7 fill ups a month @ $30 a fill up @ $2.50gal
smart – $773 @ 2.8 fill ups a month @ $23 a fill up @ 2.70gal
Yaris – $843 @ 2.51 fill ups a month @ $28 a fill up @ $2.50gal

With those $194 gas savings it’ll take a Prius 94 years to offset the cost of a smart. And that does not include the 100,000-200,000mi/ 8 year battery change.

Parts cost of the smart: (these high strength body panels awarded the smart “GOOD” for bumper crush resistance tests)(this is if your insurance company does not pay, out of pocket etc.):

$190 for single body part
$1,000 for whole new body replacement (including installation)

Parts cost on “traditional” cars (Prius, Yaris, F-150):

$1,000 – $2,000+ for single part
$8,000+ for full body replacement

So overall, the smart is the cheaper car. It does offer a bit less performance and 2 less seats than other cars but the payoff is great. The combination of safety and design makes the smart a revolutionary car. And driving it does nothing but put a big smile on your face.

Maintenance is so easy a toddler could do the basics, your smartcenter would do oil changes and scheduled maintenance for a small fee of about $120 as compared to $300+ that other companies offer.

Although you can just do your own maintenance if you know how, and online manuals would show the simplest ways.

Say if your dealer screws up and you’re unhappy, you could call the President of smartUSA and talk to him and not a person in an outsourced country! And he’ll set any issues straight.

So if you want more bang for the buck (and more fun!) I highly recommend the smart car.

To find out more, please go to my sources:

The Smart Car is a blast to drive and it’s a lot of fun.

Also, notice how clueless people that call the car a “Death Trap” have ZERO proof to back up their opinion. The three links I’ve provided should show you that it’s safe.

Also on the Smart Car Forum you can read reports from those who drive the car.

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