Perhaps the most telling statistics regarding the merits or demerits of a new vehicle may be from owners who have driven that machine for a number of months. By that time, the new-car smell is beginning to wear off and the various positive and negative aspects of the car in question are starting to be burned into the owner's psyche.
With that in mind, we were totally blown away with news from CNW Marketing Research that just 8.1 percent of Smart Fortwo owners in New York would buy the car again. You might expect that New Yorkers, at least those living in the city, would get the best possible impression of their little urban machines since that's the environment the Fortwo was designed for.
It strikes us as odd, then, that 19.8 percent of owners in San Francisco say they'd buy the car again. While better than that of New York, that's still an absolutely abysmal statistic. To put it into perspective, the lowest scoring nameplate from owners who were asked a similar question by Consumer Reports is the much-unloved Chrysler Sebring sedan, with 37 percent answering in the affirmative.
Those who have driven a Smart Fortwo likely already know the biggest peeve cited by owners: the transmission. It's not an automatic, really, but it's also not quite a real manual. You see, the Fortwo has an 'automated manual' gearbox that has a real clutch and gears like a manual but no actual clutch pedal for the driver to operate. Instead, it's all controlled – poorly – by computers and servos. This design may be good for fuel economy, but it's very bad for drivers looking to coax some smoothness from their pint-sized rides.
For what it's worth, you can read our full review of the diminutive Fortwo here. Yes, we excoriate its transmission too (along with its so-so fuel economy and pricey nature). Sadly, there won't be a new transmission coming to the Fortwo any time soon – neither Smart's budget nor its architecture will allow for the easy development of a conventional manual or automatic. Instead, Smart is putting all of its eggs in the electric car basket, which it says will offer a smoother drive than its gasoline-powered sibling. One can only hope.