Homer

Buying advice...

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I am completely new to the smart car. Could someone offer some buying advice please?

 

I'm looking to buy a smart car for my girlfriend as a daily driver to get between where we live and Montreal. Its a 50km drive that is mostly highway, however we get some pretty harsh winter on the north shore.

 

My girlfriend has a hard time driving large cars and minivans (I drive a 2017 Dodge Caravan as my daily driver) because she's from the country of Colombia (in South America), and most of her driving experience is with small cc motorcycles. I figure the smart's small size will give her a nice compromise in size that will allow her to get more comfortable driving a car on her own.

 

I've narrowed it down to two choices and I can't decide between the two. Its between a 2015 with 100000km at 4000$ (See here) or a 2015 with 55000km at 6000$ (See here).

 

Is it better to get the one at 100000km and hope there isn't 2000$ of repairs or get the one at 55000km knowing that I'll be fine until 100000km? I have no idea what the maintenance and reliability history looks like for the smart, and I'm aware that Mercedes-Benz won't be cheap on repair costs.

 

Thank you for any advice and recommendations to help me decide between those two choices.

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The $6K pure is well equipped for a base model car, but they are asking too much IMHO. That's the one I'd pick.  You can get the VIN of whichever car you decide on and have a Mercedes/smart dealer check it for service history and any other issues.   Make sure she gets to test drive the car for more than just around the block - some people are put off by the way the car shifts and its reaction to the wind at highway speeds.  :)

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Welcome to the site......you'll find all sorts of great information here I'm sure.
My question to you is, can you or do you want to do your own maintenance on your vehicles? How good at it are you if so?   A Smart Car is a great little car for someone with interest in dealing with the issues that will pop up from time to time as I expect all cars will have, but Smarts are peculiar to say the least.  I love mine and it has multiplied so now I have two....lol.  IF you can't or don't wish to work on your own vehicles I hope you have a good mechanic near you......You live in a very rural town like me......there is no one near me who can help me if mine were to stop working. But I do all my own work and love it.  I'm not trying to scare you away just honestly inform you seeing as it's for your better half to drive and use etc etc.
Hmmmm......seems people told me the same thing when I asked the same sort of question....lol.
As for the size of the vehicle.....when you get inside it, it feels just like any other car. You do not notice the smallness of it. I also have the first version of it which is smaller than the ones you are looking at. As said above, the car has a lag in it's accelleration compared to other cars IMHO, which may upset someone who can't deal with it and adjust. But from hearing where she is from and what you say, I'm sure she'll figure that out fast!  Damn, Montreal traffic can be brutal to say the least....and you want a small car eh....Hmmm...?  My brother lives in Gateneau and I go to visit him a few times a year. Their roads destroy my car......pot holes are like craters and the Smart hates them.  The last time I went through Montreal is was just as bad....lol. 

Now for the good stuff....I love the Smart Car, it's like a go-cart so to speak, slower  but fun to drive, at least mine is as I drive it. It fits anywhere. Easy to park and economical. Again at least mine is. But mine is a diesel so gets far better fuel economy than the gas versions. But still great. I agree also with above, she needs to drive it for a good 30 minutes to see if she likes it over another smaller car like a toyota or honda etc etc.   

 

IMHO.....it comes down to repairs and what you intend to do.......that should be your biggest concern.   Are you willing to do the simple stuff yourself?     I suppose it can be said about any brand of car now a days, but imho more so the Smart.

Oh I forgot....winter driving is great, it goes through anything I have found in the past two winters owning my car. I will admit the depth of the snow will interfere with that statement but in general it is great. The weight is over the drive wheels and with a set of snows it is fun to drive. And the safety systems almost stop it from spinning out, I have tried hard to have "fun" in my car and unless I turn off the traction controls etc it will not spin....so another great winter feature imho.
The windy days ...Hmmmmmm it can get exciting with a very strong side wind. But if you do not white knuckle the steering wheel and allow it to semi float in the lane it is fine.....but the first few drives it may upset you. I used to ride a bike and I relate it to that similar to her experiences if she has ridden as you hint at.  You again are looking at a very light car but much better from what I hear than the first generation that I drive.


So after looking at those two, I'd spend the extra....I hate dealerships period selling me anything but maybe they will stand behind it somehow?  Also they too need to make money and with COVID maybe they are semi hungry? So barter well.  The cheaper one looks to me like a younger person owned it it just looks more worn as expected by double the mileage. But it's not half the price.  It should be a $2500-$3500 car IMHO...but I'm a hard sell. I agree, buy the higher priced car and start at $4500 and see....ask for all repair history, and ask if they have checked the front suspension as in broken springs...?  As I said above, these cars do not like bad pot holes! Unless the newer versions have better springs but I highly doubt it....lol.

Sorry to be so long winded......but you asked.    That expensive car looks great IMHO...!

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Posted (edited) · Report post

Hi there,

My 2 cents if I may... I live in Laval so I have a good idea of what your GF will be going through.

1st off, I agree, I think both cars are overpriced. I got my latest 2015 Pure with 16k km for 7k and that was almost 2 years ago.

 

As a daily driver, it's a great little car if you can tolerate the harsh suspension over our sucky roads. Go-Kart it is and on the highway, I can easily get below 6l/100km when I'm not in a hurry at 130kph ;-)

Great little thing in winter as well as long as there isn't too much snow. I find anything over 15cm on the ground gets dicier and other drivers have little patience for your careful driving. Mind you, that's true for any small car drivers in the land of SUVs.

Get good winter tires (either the contis or khumo) and also get a smart with the heated seats!!! That little 3 banger in the back takes a while to heat up in front in temps below -20c.

Side winds require both hands on the wheel. Not an option here.

 

The one thing I did which, I think anyway (might be wishful thinking but...), improved performance was to replace the air filter with a drop-in K&N. Some peeps have shown a 2-4hp gain on dynos. That usually isn't much on a "regular" car. But when you're starting with 70hp... Anything that's a gain is a gain!! :-D

 

Also, I've had no problem finding mechanics that'll work on my smart for the bigger jobs. So don't worry about having to go to MB to get things done. Do what you can and be confident that you can find someone for what you can't.

 

Hope you find a good one and enjoy it!

Edited by ShMarty
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OR,.........

Get yourself a CDI, older model car with around the 100,000km mark and enjoy the 3/lt per hundred .....yes it will be a much more basic car, but will give you many good years of driving at a far less price..?   Talk to Glenn, SMART142 here as he usually has a good car in his collection ready to sell. I can attest to the quality of his cars, great. My first car was one of his...Love it. He goes over each car with a fine tooth comb and usually undercoats them also. You will get a far more "modern" car if you stay up in the years and pay far more.   BUT, one draw back I see is performance compared to the newer gas vehicles, so I've heard.  You just get used to the difference and deal with it. 

It's just another option to slip under your plate...lol

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I'd advise that any non-enthusiast stay away from the smart brand entirely and get a Toyota Echo or Yaris instead.  I have been giving this advice for 15 years now.

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i would never recommend buying a smart ...unless youre good at fixing things 

 

and even then i would only suggest it as a second fun car...not an everyday commute car

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As others have said, as a typical daily driver - especially if it's the primary car - it's probably a poor choice. Mine is pretty reliable and I'd say on average they are good cars, but when something goes wrong it's typically not a quick fix; no local support, so I do all my own work on it. They are fun little cars, but if you want a car you can rely on for years to come, get something popular which will have lots of parts availability and which your local mechanic will be more familiar.

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After several test drives, your combined advice, and much reflection, I went the route of purchasing a 2015 Nissan Micra SV. It seems to be a good compromise in between a Smart and a full size car. Thank you everyone for your thoughts.

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Enjoy!

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