2008 smart fortwo Long-Term Road Test

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2008 Smart ForTwo: Bad For Picking Up Sick People

April 09, 2009

The Smart Potted Plant -- Awesome Photo by James Riswick

This picture makes the Smart look like a potted plant. Or Sideshow Bob, or for the kiddies, Corbin Bleu. Just thought I'd point that out.

Any way, I had the chance to drive our beloved ForTwo home last night. But along the way, I had to pick up a deathly ill Magrath from the doctors (we think it's ebola). Of course, when you're going to be sitting with Typhoid Gary for 25 minutes, being in the smallest enclosed space on wheels is just a fantastic idea. Had we been in the Flex, I would've made him sit in the caboose seats. In the Smart, he's basically on my lap.

So there you have it: the Smart ForTwo is not the ideal vehicle for picking up sick people. Oh, and get better buddy -- these cars don't care for themselves, you know.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 15,790 miles

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2008 Smart Fortwo: Keeping Me Warm at Night

December 10, 2008

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This is the reason I chose to take our 2008 Smart Fortwo over the biodiesel Jetta last night. I don't know about you but 58 degrees is pretty chilly out and I wanted to keep warm on the drive home. OK, I use seat heaters even when it's 72 degrees out.

In any case, I kinda like the cloth seats with the seat heater, it makes the seat feel like I'm sitting on a heated blanket. And at the highest level -- the two bars -- I was comfortable, not scorched. The heating seems focused primarily on my lower back though and not so much my bottom. But I'm not complaining. Rush hour was nice and cozy.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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2008 Smart ForTwo: Proving it's not all bad

September 16, 2008

Figuring that traffic wasn't going to be bad last night (Monday's are often free and easy), I opted for the Smart. Good move, because the Smart really is an excellent little city car when you're not herking and jerking around in gridlock. Like all small cars (and moreso), the Smart cuts through cars with ease and can fit through gaps like nothing else can. I once even hyphothetically dodged a stopped bus at an intersection by briefly buzzing up onto a sidewalk and through a gas station. Couldn't hypothetically do that in a Fit.

I also like that I fit comfortably in the thing. I wish the driver seat went as far back as the passenger seat does, but even without the extra inches of travel, I'm more comfortable in this itzy bitzy carlet than most other compact and subcompact cars.

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2008 Smart Fortwo: My Turn

September 03, 2008

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Since I had some seat time in the Smart this weekend, I've finally got some first-hand impressions to share. In the spirit of the Smart, I'll keep my comments short - compact, even.

Guess what? The transmission sucks. I know it's been said before, but it needs repeating. No one should ever make a transmission this bad again. It's so bad, it needs its own paragraph.

As does the stereo. It has two speakers. Two really, really, bad speakers.

It's not all bad though. The seating position is good and the seat is comfortable. You've got good visibility too. The motor has nice snarl to it and, even though you're basically sitting on it, its noise and vibration are well controlled. It's not really that slow, either. You've really got to give it a good caning, but it'll get you up to speed.

Even in southern California, this car attracts attention. Everywhere I parked the car, someone came up and asked me about the car. Supermarket? Check. Gas station? Check. Bookstore? Check. My driveway...you get the idea. You've got to be prepared to deal with the attention.

On a side note, Mr. Magrath had asked me to put some license plates on the car this weekend. It shouldn't be a big deal, except there are no pre-drilled plates holes on the Smart. There aren't even any dimples. There's just painted plastic. So, in order to not 'G8' our Smart, I busted out a ruler and a level to center up the plates. A little painter's tape to prevent the paint from cracking, a fully charged drill and 10 minutes was all it took to plate up our Smart.

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2008 Smart Fortwo: Rose-Colored Glasses Are Off

August 07, 2008

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My best friend was visiting from San Francisco so I took a couple of days off and asked to borrow our 2008 Smart Fortwo. No, I wasn't trying to punish my friend. I figured since we were going to be driving all around Los Angeles it would be the perfect car to have since it can fit in nearly any size parking space. I also thought she'd get a kick out of its novelty.

I used to like the Smart...before I had to drive it two days straight in and around Los Angeles -- on freeways, crosstown, in rush-hour traffic, to the airport. I don't like it so much now. It seems to have gotten worse or maybe now that my rose-colored glasses have been thrown off I am more aware of its faults. But it vibrates a lot, even when stopped. When I press the brake (which you have to press firmly all the way down so the car doesn't creep) and am just sitting there, the Smart jerks as if someone has bumped it from behind. I don't know why it does that.

Also, and this isn't the Smart's fault but more due to my impatience, but I really hate how when waiting to drive onto a busy street, I have to wait until there are absolutely NO cars coming before I can go. That is, when I'm using the automatic mode. If I use the manual then I can probably jump in front of a car that's several car lengths away when in 1st gear, but I still wouldn't chance it.

But when I use the automatic and floor it, I mean stomp the pedal to the floor, there's that moment when the Smart leaves you hanging, wondering if it'll kick in in time to get out of that oncoming motorist's way.

No matter how I feel about the Smart now, spectators still love it lots and seem to be disappointed if I reply in a less than enthusiastic way about it. One time while I was waiting at a light, a man in an old Mercedes pulled up alongside me and beeped his horn to get my attention. Through his open window he asked me how I liked it. When I replied, "Eh. It's OK," he frowned and looked genuinely sad.

The look on his face reminded me of the time when I was a kid at Disneyland standing next to Mickey Mouse waiting to have my picture taken. "Mickey" said something to me to get me to stand in the right spot but he didn't say it with that sing-song falsetto Mickey Mouse voice but rather the voice of man who smoked five packs of cigarettes a day. Very disappointing indeed.

Hmm, maybe I should have lied to that motorist.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 8,407 miles

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2008 Smart Fortwo Passion: Make Your Own Armrest

May 13, 2008

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Let's be clear: I like driving the Smart Fortwo, and I'll have the next 11 months to expound on that. It's not that I think the car's automated manual transmission is great. It's just that a liberal dose of throttle followed by a prudent lift will get around many a minor inconvenience... and surprise unsuspecting 3 Series drivers... But today I want to talk armrests. The Smart doesn't have one in the center. So here's how I get around that. I travel with this big old-school CD case (probably holds 50 or 100 CDs) and after I select my music, it becomes my elbow cushion.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor

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2008 Smart ForTwo: Blown Away

May 09, 2008

Smart ForTwo before a gale-force wind blew it into a ravine

Welcome to a year of grievances, where we explore the oxymoronic nature of badging this car the Smart. For those on staff who have nothing but 95 octane running through their veins, the ForTwo was never even going to be approached. However, some of us (such as myself) like little cars and wanted to give the Smart an honest chance. You'll see how well that went.

Read the Long-Term Introduction

I've already had several adventures in our red ForTwo Passion Coupe, but my favorite occurred during the first leg of our recent four-car fuel sipper smackdown. This was the Fontana to Death Valley stretch on a two-lane road with a very heavy cross wind. I wasn't so much driving the Smart as I was sailing it. For a good chunk of the drive I had the wheel positioned at 30 degrees to port as if I was on a huge skidpad. Problem with that is, when one or several big rigs drove by, that cross wind would stop and I'd find myself steering right for impending doom. It was like driving the plastic bag from "American Beauty."

For the guys in our support truck (aka Buick Enclave), it wasn't the most beautiful thing they'd ever seen, but it was certainly one of the funniest. Luckily, our trip videographer Seth Compton managed to get some footage of me Smart surfing (see below). And really, it was more hilarious for me. At one point, I couldn't help but laugh hysterically as the winds whacked the Smart all over the road. It's one of the few enjoyable moments I've had behind its tiny wheel.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 4,315 miles

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