Perfect small car with charisma..
Nothing has gone wrong with my Smart. First service is at 15000 km and after a year of driving it every day, I am still not there yet.
When I started a new job around a year ago, my employers gave me the carrot on a stick of choosing my own work car. As the company already had a bunch of vans, a truck and a couple of station wagons, I thought a Smart would be a good choice.
When it first arrived, everyone thought I was mad. That was, until they drove it. It is a great fun little beast. With the 6 speed sequential clutchless manual gearbox, it takes a little getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, it's great. One thing you have to do though is physically change gear a bit before you actually want the car to. By the time the computer and engine do the change, it can be a second or so. I think this is why there are so many negative reviews about the gearbox - reviewers simply don't have enough time to get the hang of the new way of driving over the review period.
The car revs happily to redline through all the gears and when you floor it from standstill, it seems to go into some sort of high-boost mode - it really leaps!
Every day I drive around 20km each way to my workplace, pretty much all of it motorway speed. The car is extremely happy at these speeds - spinning at only 2600rpm at 100kph in top gear. It is also very quiet at these speeds.
The ride is quite stiff and the short wheelbase makes the car sensitive to pitch, but the handling is pretty predictable. As with most modern cars, when pushed it under steers, but no more than any other small front wheel drive that I've driven. The good thing is that because of it's light weight, it never gets unrecoverable. Just button off a bit and it's back into line. It also has electronic stability control courtesy of Mercedes-Benz, that I have managed to invoke a few times, mainly over speed humps and strange surfaces.
The car fits more cargo than you would think considering it's external size. The passenger seat folds forward so that you can happily store long cargo up to about 2 metres long. The rear hatch opens with the top half (glass) upwards, and the rest downward to make a very strong loading shelf. From first hand experience, it is strong enough to picnic on, with the glass above keeping out the weather...
Visibility is great and the driving position is higher than in most passenger cars. The triangle rear view mirror is a little useless, but the external mirrors are good.
The standard stereo is good, but not great and the air conditioning is brilliant in the summer to counter the heat from the glass roof. The seats are very comfortable and I really like the way that they are steel backed and powder coated to keep the cargo where it belongs.
My only design complaint is that the car is air-tight. When all the windows are up, the door can bounce off the internal air and fail to close properly. Often I leave the window down a bit so that the doors can close without effort.
Another great thing about the smart is that it is really easy to clean! It only takes a couple of minutes and it's sparkling again.
Sometimes it gets a bit tiring driving around with people staring and pointing at the car. It is impossible to disappear in a Smart Fortwo.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 13th January, 2007