• Aug 20, 2010
2009 Smart Fortwo Click above for high-res image gallery

Perhaps the most telling statistics of 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 just 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 by computers and servos. Poorly. 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 pricy 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.



Photos Copyright ©2010 Sebastian Blanco / AOL

[Source: MSNBC]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 77 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      honestly the only reason it is higher in san francisco is because how much stupider people are here.
        Russell
        • 4 Years Ago
        I think the proper grammar should have been how much MORE STUPID rather than how much STUPIDER...
      • 4 Years Ago
      I have owned a smart since March 2008 and will not buy another one. The lack of development pisses me off. I can't believe they don't try to make it better.
      • 4 Years Ago
      If anyone at smart is listening:

      I wanted to buy one, I really did. The problem is I need better MPG, a lower price, and a proper manual.

      Or drop in a hyabusa engine and sell a performance smart. I'd pay for that!

      Otherwise it was nice knowing you smart. Don't let the door hit you in your flat a**.
        • 4 Years Ago
        This.

        I have even looked into a couple companies who are trying to offer turn-key Smarts with the Busa swap/widebody already done. When that becomes available, sign me up.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Every week there is a "smart car sucks" post on Autoblogged. You may want to consider putting all of these stories in a new column.

      I drive one and yes the transmission is drastically different from most every other car out there but you get used to it believe it or not. Considering much of the smart car drivers are baby boomers who will probably trade it for a "sensible ride" soon, I don't find this info surprising.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Just because you were dumb enough to get suckered in by the "Smart" hype, that's no defense of the car itself. It's too small, underpowered, and clunky. The same money could have gotten you a Versa or Yaris, with more seats and no clown music. Shame.
      • 4 Years Ago
      It seems conclusions can be drawn from this data, but the question is a rather poor one. I love my current car, but I'd never buy it again.

      The car that makes sense for me now would be a bad car for me in ten years.
      • 4 Years Ago
      i think its funny, when the smartfortwo came out a few years ago in the U.S. they were an odd vehicle to see in public, almost like you had to look at it because it was so different. People were buying these cars because they were like the new fad. But now you see these cars in used car dealers and nobody buying them, because most people realized they cost as much as say a toyota corolla or yaris. Are more practical and comfortable and get good mileage as well, plus use regular gas instead of premium.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Nearly every time we pass one on the road my daughter goes, "Hey Dad, look. It's a Dumb Car!"
        • 4 Years Ago
        We call it the "Stupid" car. :-)
        • 4 Years Ago
        Heard this from a kid, "I want that power wheel!"
      • 4 Years Ago
      We leased a 2008 451 on Dec 24 2008 in Canada. Two days ago the Mercedes Benz inspector inspected the car as I am returning it as the 36 month lease is at an end. This has been a frustrating experience. I had planned on buying it out because at the time of purchase the residual on Smart's was way below the retail price. I'm sorry this is not true.

      We bought the Smart hoping to get great mileage. Although it is good, it is not great and the surcharge for premium has negated the good mileage. The tires are at the verge of all needing replacement at 62,000 km

      Service on the car has been poor. We took it to Mercedes Benz Mississauga

      * to fix the radio for poor reception -"Sorry there is nothing wrong with it - that is normal"
      * to fix the bad wind noise on the highway at 100Km - "sorry we only drove it in the neighbourhood and not on the highway" - I took it in twice and gave up.
      * to fix poor plastic fit on the inside back gate. - "sorry there is nothing we can do" - I fixed it with duct tape
      * to have an oil change done - after waiting 2 weeks for an appointment - it was not done by 5:45 after bringing in the car at 8:00 am, then they couldn't bill me because the staff went home, then they charged me an additional $1.37 for windshield washer fluid on top of the $175 for my oil change. I have since done the oil changes myself. They are easy and fast, I buy Mobil 1 synthetic and filter from Canadian Tire. I wait for a sale and pay less than $40.

      When the leasing guy inspected the vehicle, he told me that MB wants to charge me $450 because I couldn't figure out how to reset the maintenance blinker and $250 because the rubber knob on my lock button of my key fob came off because of poor workmanship. Mercedes Benz. Never again.

      The car has been fun to drive, but poor in snow. Good on the highways but dangerous on grooved roads prior to repaving. It was an experiment. But I won't repeat it. I'm going out to look at Golf TDi's or Mazda 2's.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Yes, the Bay Area is riddled Prius owners. I've watched the cars coming off the freeway in Mill Valley at noontime, and every queue at the light has at leat one, and often more than one Prius.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Why no CVT for this car?

      The autostick is ancient tech. VW had it back in the late 70's.

      Daimler needs to rethink this project.

      And this car line was supposed to replace the Plymouth division at Daimler-Chrysler. Sad.
        • 4 Years Ago

        "AngeloD
        10:06AM (8/20/2010)
        Why no CVT for this car?

        The autostick is ancient tech. VW had it back in the late 70's.

        Daimler needs to rethink this project.

        And this car line was supposed to replace the Plymouth division at Daimler-Chrysler. Sad."


        Actually the VW had autostick in the late 60's
      • 4 Years Ago
      I can't say I'm surprised. The model hasn't been refreshed and Smart hasn't really made up for a lot of the drawbacks the car had in the first place. Plus, many of the people buying these cars, by the time they're in the market for another one, their needs have likely changed such as their living arrangement, family size, etc.

      Nothing is bringng people back. Even relatively ho-hum cars like the Ford Focus are enticing for former Focus owners. I had declared war on Ford for all the problems (defective suspension system, allow wheels seemingly made out of silly putty, cheap plastic holding the car together, the list goes on) I had with my 2002 Focus but they've improved the brand quality significantly and now I'm almost completely commited to buying a 2012 Focus with all the bells and whistles. They've made visible, marked improvements.
      Pug_Power
      • 4 Years Ago
      The thing is a pretty big gimmick if you ask me. I'd take a diesel VW Polo instead if they were available this side of the pond.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Pug_Power
        Hmm, I dont think he is saying that lol.
        A polo desiel would get very comparable fuel milage compaired to the smart car,
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Pug_Power
        Hmm, I dont think he is saying that lol.
        A polo desiel would get very comprible fuel milage compaired to the smart car,
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Pug_Power
        You're saying that Polo diesel will have less than 70% of the owners suffering from buyers' remorse? I doubt it.

        • 4 Years Ago
        @Pug_Power
        Hmm, I dont think he is saying that lol.
        A polo desiel would get very comparable fuel milage compaired to the smart car,
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