WOW! I test drove my first smart car yesterday at the new smart dealer in Smithtown NY.
When I was there, a small crowd of about 30 people were looking at the cars and everyone had smiles on. Including me! I intended to test drive the car, just for the sake of driving one, but about 3 minutes into the test drive, I started to get hooked. Most of you on this site know what it is like to drive the smart, and have done a good job of describing that experiance, but getting in one and actually driving it is a huge surprise!
Someone in the dealer had moved the seat all the way back, and when I got into the car, I could not reach the pedals! At 5'10" I am not short, but I have never been in a car that I could not reach the pedals, not even in my 1970"s Eldorado!! At least not since I was 12 years old...
I was surprised at the "No pressure" atmosphere in the dealer. For the test drive, They asked for my licsense and my phone number incase I got "lost" for a while. (which I did...)
The manager explained that they cannot let me take the car alone. He waited for a salesman to become available to go with me and within a few minutes, Vincent walked with me to the car, explained the transmisson to me and off I went!!
Solo! To my surprise, he closed his door from the outside and said, "Have fun!"
I made a right out of the back parking lot to get used to the shifting, and within 2 minutes, I was a pro. I have also grown up with cars, some not so roadworthy, trucks, motorcycles and just about everything that can be driven on the road and quite a few things that cannot be driven on the road... I think some people might have a problem getting used to the unusual feeling of the car shifting like it is a manual trans.
I loved it. It shifts like a small invisable shifting robot is sitting next to you, stepping on the clutch, lifting the gas pedal, shifting into the next gear, releasing the clutch and stepping back on the gas! The paddles work the same way, with about a 2 second delay from when you actually move the paddle to when the car has shifted and is accelerating again. It is no Formula 1 car. Quicker shifts would be move comfortable, it seems economy is the goal.
When in drive, the delay is still there, only with the paddles I would think it would be quick. I quickly got used to the feeling of the "Invisable robot" shifting and I absolutly love this car!
A few years ago, when the news spread that the smart WAS in fact coming to the US, I held my breath to hear about the CDI version. When the news came that there would be NO CDI version, I continued to hold my breath and jump up and down, stamping my feet. NO CDI, NO SMART FOR ME!
I might have to eat those words... I loved this car. By the time I got back from the test drive, I was planning on what I could say to convince the dealer to bump me to the top of the waiting list or How could I convince them to sell me the car in the showroom floor. I am GLAD they did not have any cars available. I would have been driving one home if they did.
The word from the dealer is NINE MONTHS! oof. The other word from the dealer is that some people might cancel their reservation and the wait will most likely be shorter then 9 months.
This gives me time to decide what I should do. I have a 2002 S10 Pickup, that gets about 16-19 mpg to and from work, 22-30 on the highway, can tow anything else I own including motorcycles and snowmobiles. It is twice the weight of the smart which give it a smoother ride, reclining seats for my road trips, a 6'x4' covered water proof bed to store most anything I have, and is paid for!
The smart that gets 33 city, 41 highway (I think I can do way better then the estimates), cannot tow ANYTHING I have, and the seats do not recline more then about 80 degrees, only has a small space behind the seats to carry stuff for a road trip, and will cost about 250-300 a month for a few years.