Rose-Colored Glasses Are Off - 2008 Smart Fortwo Long-Term Road Test

2008 smart fortwo Long-Term Road Test

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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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