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MF Review: Smart Fourtwo

The following review coincides with the Smart’s launch in the US and therefore will be reviewed in relation to that specific market.

On paper the Smart micro-car is as revolutionary an ideas as the original MINI. The Smart is mid-engined, small and efficient in both space and economy. The Smart Fourtwo (the only Smart made these days) comfortably seats two while offering a boot not too different from the MINI’s own. However the big difference in terms of space is that lack of rear seats that the MINI offers.

The other big difference? Where the MINI is one of the most entertaining new cars I’ve ever driven, the Smart is easily the worst. And I’m not talking about just mediocre. The Smart’s driving experience is truly appalling. In fact, as much as I’m aware of the 10-12 month waiting lists, I honestly can’t imagine anyone buying this car after a test drive.

With only three cylinders to its name, you’d expect the Smart to sluggish. Consider that expectation met. But it’s slowness is something you can easily live with once you get used to planning ahead. What is almost impossible to cope with is the ineptness of the five speed auto-manual. So bad is this transmission’s manual mode that its shift times can be counted not in 1/10ths of a second but in full seconds. Actually almost two full seconds was the time it took to regularly shift from 2nd to 3rd gear under acceleration. I had to redefine my expectations of what shifting meant while driving the Smart. That said, in auto mode it was smoother and shifted at an almost adequate pace. Probably fast enough that most people wouldn’t complain until the luster of ownership wore off.

So we’ve established that getting the Smart going from a stop is sluggish and shifting (once underway) is painful. Then it probably shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that stopping a Smart is an exercise that requires equal parts courage and faith. Brake feel is simply non-existent. There’s no feedback and the effort to actually get the brakes to engage is surprisingly robust. Then there’s the actual engagement point which is seems to be a zone on the pedal’s travel that is roughly a millimeter long. This all translates into the brakes feeling as if they are either on or off. There’s no in between and there’s no illusion of feedback. The result is a braking system that feels like a complete mystery to the driver.

But the lack of feel in the braking pales in comparison to what you get (or don’t get as it were) with the Smart’s steering feel. There is none. At best it’s overboosted and at worse it’s dangerous. The wheel gives you no indication as to what the car is doing where the tires meet the road and no confidence to do anything other than gingerly go around corners. But that’s actually a good thing as anything other than slow cornering will result in the gear selector becoming one with the side of your right thigh. In fact, if the selector wasn’t there, I can only guess my right leg would have ended up on the passenger’s seat during moderate left-handers.

Driving the Smart Fourtwo can feel like playing Grand Tourismo while using a coffee table mounted Logitech steering wheel with the big difference being, in the Smart you could theoretically die. I’m not here to say the Smart is dangerous. It’s just not the most confidence inspiring experience on the road. And surprisingly it’s the driving experience and not the size that contribute to this.

Inside the Smart is a mix of plastic, what seemed to be leather and fabric with white specs. Now I’m not entirely clear when things go from out of style to retro to back in style but I was pretty sure black carpet with white specs hadn’t reached the latter stage. Then there’s the stereo. Maybe there were two speakers. Maybe there were four. Whatever the number, none of them added up to anything worth a damn.

But let’s not lose sight of what this car is. In the US market it’s a $13k urban runabout without air-con and with roll-up windows. In Europe or other severely congested and cities with high petrol prices it almost makes sense. But in a market like the US, wouldn’t a certified pre-owned MINI Cooper be just a few dollars more? Of course you’d get more space, more style and the Cooper is infinitely more fun to drive. The Smart has the edge on economy (and it’s fairly substantial when compared to the R50 Cooper) but if this is intended to be an urban runabout, how much driving are you really going to do and how much is that extra efficiency going to help?

I want to like the Smart. It’s a great concept that is probably more in tune with the real needs of more than a few currently piloting unnecessarily large vehicles. Yet I can’t help but feel the car ultimately fails in almost every conceivable way. Actually the more I think about the more I’m convinced there is absolutely no reason why anyone should be buying a Smart in a market like the US. Unless you live in a gated community that only allows golf carts, the Smart is a poor choice for just about every occasion. Its overall driving experience was literally painful and the cost is all to close to the much more capable MINI or a number of other much better competitors.

Written By: Gabe

  • zm

    oh, but it looks so good. :)

  • Jon

    Nothing to surprising here, as a concept its not bad at all. I can forgive the acceleration but the brakes need to be addressed for safe road work. Still believe a better option for Mini would to bring the Mini One to the states. An entry level Mini One aimed directly at young buyers and the same people looking at a Smart largely speaking.

  • http://toddsmods.com/blog Todd

    Yes Jon, bringing the MINI One to the US would put smart out business within six months. And if the US sales of smart continue with a robust pace (heaven only knows why but sales of smarts continue to be strong) MINI should be convinced that there really is a market in the US for a sub-100 hp car.

    After driving the smart a few weeks back I would concur with everything said here. I, personally, would feel safer on a bicycle and I’d have a lot of money left over for bus fare on rainy days.

  • jakay11

    BMW made the Mini, which is fun to drive. M-B made the Smart, which isn’t.

    Surprising?

  • dr

    I would definitely be intrested in a smart for around 5k…..But when you can buy an aveo or hyundai for less than 10k why would anyone buy a smart for 13k….it just doesn’t hit the price point of an economy car.

  • dr

    on the other hand….if they make the hyabussa engine standard then you would have something that looks like fun for 13k

  • rkw
    US sales of smart continue with a robust pace (heaven only knows why but sales of smarts continue to be strong)

    The reason why is obvious. People are in love with the concept of the Smart, and they love the attention it gets. These factors were also important for MINI during its early years.

  • Vanwall

    I’ve seen a bunch of ‘em over the past few years from over the border, and drove one around a block or two last year – not a safe solution unless it’s in a retirement community; nuns driving ‘em for groceries, is my most feasible scenario. I didn’t experience the shifting – it was full auto for that drive, and yeah, it’s a very disconnected feeling driving one – very little ‘feel’ for so small a car. I’m not enamored of the looks either – it resembles a much larger, but just as ugly car that got squished in vice. Bet you could get high-CG’d in evasive manouvering real fast in one, too – kinda like an SUV.

  • chris m

    I drove the Smart in Italy last year and was absolutely terrified every time I got behind the wheel. The gearbox is flat out dangerous on the highway. Imagine trying to pass with a two to three SECOND delay before the new gear engages! You pull over left and are suddenly in neutral with traffic coming up fast.

  • Jon

    Have to remember also a lot of people looking at the Smart are light years from driving/performance enthusiast, they are driving the car because of its iconic nature. There are more than a couple Mini people out there that are oblivious to the driving feel of the Mini that bought it strictly on its iconic nature.

  • neuron

    Smart, in concept, is more similar to the post WWII cars such as 2cv or original fiat500. The goal is to move people on a minimalist plateform. If they make the car faster or handle better,at the expense of weight, fuel consumption, or price, they would have already missed their mark. This car should not be compared to MINI, but a Vespa. Testing the perfromence of the car is like testing towing capacity of a MINI – missing the point

    I drove the Smart in 2000 – the smaller and slower 1st generation and found the convertible fun to drive-if you know what to expect form it. I was the perfect car for sightseeing in Madrid. No body in their right mind should take this thing on a American highway.

    I don’t consider this car an alternative to MINI at all. It does not have retro stylng or the perfromence. I don’t think it will do well in U.S. because we don’t like (or get) minimalist cars ( or minimalist anything for that matter). The few people who do are already driving the old VW beetle or riding scooters.

  • Ian

    So you’d have to be an idiot to drive a SmarCar? Huh.

    As far as the MINI One killing it’s market in the US I guess the SMART will do a better job.

    Consumer Reports rated it the worst car they’ve ever tested, in years.

  • http://www.lilcoopr.com lilcoopr

    HAHAHA I love that bit about the Grand Tourismo and how in the “Smart you could theoretically die.” Well said!!

    I test drove one when they first came to Canada. I noticed that the automatic gearbox was a little dodgy (well, understatement!) and when I came back from the test drive I asked the sales associate about it. He said:

    “Oh it’s only because it has 30,000 clicks on it… Yours would be fine.”

    I responded with: “Does that mean mine would feel like it’s broken after a year of driving it??”

    silence. He had nothing to say in response to that…! :P

  • goat

    Perhaps this is one vehicle where the CDN-US cultural divide grows a bit? A friend has a 2007, a coupe, with the EVEN LESS POWERFUL 40hp 3-cyl engine. As such, I have driven it several times and ridden in it several more. As both passenger and driver I find it a wonderfully fun car and at no time found the handling/braking/accel scary. The car turns in quite well and the chunky little steering wheel has a neat feel to it too. The motor is torquey and the car light, so acceleration to 80kph, which is about the most you would need on city roads, is quite adequate (if you let it shift for itself, as Gabe pointed out). At highway speeds it is not a good solution to longer-distance inter-city travel, but I have not found it to feel “dangerous” on in-town freeways cruising at 110kph. The real-world fuel consumption of my friend’s 1st-gen Canadian Smart is phenomenal – as good as 3.5L/100km highway, never worse than 4.5L/100km in town (for comparison the R56 cooper usually sees 6L/100km highway, 7L/100 km in town). The car has a vigorously funky design inside and out and from most every angle looks like a premium euro product. It really stands out (in a positive aesthetic and conceptual manner) in Canada and I would imagine it will do so in our neighbour-to-the-south’s urban centres as well.

    Having said that, I concur with the review that, for the asking $, the Smart is – rationally – a silly choice. Much as I love driving it and zipping around shotgun, never once do I confuse it with a “real car” and it does not meet my motoring needs. A mini is only marginally more expensive and is very much a “real car”, with excellent cargo space, rear seats, near-sports car handling and braking, a decent manual (or auto) shifter, and very reasonable acceleration power even with the normally aspirated motor. The mini also has styling inside and out that is (slightly less) vigorously funky and looks in every way a premium euro product. And for the sport driving enthusiast, as Gabe found, the smart is a non-option.

    But the smart is currently in a class of one, it does not compete with our beloved minis – nor should it. As mini owners we must surely know first-hand that not all decisions need be made rationally, and for those intending to use it to zip back and forth from teaching courses at the U or as a tertiary vehicle, I applaud those decisions.

    Like progressive conceptual art, if you do not at least “relish its challenge” at first encounter, you are unlikely to upon subsequent viewings. My prediction is that this car will do very well in the US market (particularly on both coasts), as it has done in the CDN market. It is the kind of car we need in NAmerica to challenge our perception of what private transport mobility can be.

  • Todd

    We were on the Smart waiting list for a year but passed on it and bought a used ’06 R53 instead. We’d been big fans of them from seeing them in Europe since the original launch. Of course we had never driven them until the local dealership got their first demos in. yech!

    A few reasons why we canceled our order and got a mini: 1. Smart USA can’t communicate to their dealers when a car is actually going to be delivered. We were told for 4 weeks “your car will be here friday” 2. 2 seater car for a 3 person family 3. Slow 4. That gearbox

    After driving a Smart you get out and say “hmm…could i live with the compromises?”

    After driving a Mini you get out and say “whoohoo – let’s go again!”

  • Vanwall

    I think for 12 G’s they oughta get more than a warmed over Lambretta with extra wheels and a parasol. As a basic vehicle, it should above all be safe and engineered well, I don’t care primarily about fun at this level of vehicle, overpriced as it is. On something like this, there should be more feedback from your actions, not less – if someone is buying a Smart for cachet only and they’re clueless about handling, this oughta be as idiot-proof as possible, ’cause it will allow the clueless driver to get into a situation the car can’t get ‘em out of. Good luck to ‘em, they’ll need it.

  • Jon

    Gabe, great review!

  • Bilbo Baggins

    Neuron said just what I was thinking. Gabe’s review sort of reminded me of my first car, an original 1965 VW beetle. But at least they had some handling, steering feedback, and brake feel. Although it seems as though the power is about the same. Are the SmartForTwo available with a manual transmission in the USA? People just do not get the concept of a “city car” that would not be used on the highway. I have people ask me about my MCS and then bring up the Smart car in the same breath. It is difficult to explain the difference to them. I loved my old Beetle. But, I wonder how I would feel if I got back into one today. I think that expectations have changed over the years.

  • lavardera

    Oh come on – tell me you’ve never had some oaf with an SUV tell you that they would never take a Mini on a highway for fear of their life. Now Mini owners are going to trot out the same BS on the Smart?

  • emtrey

    Tell us how you really feel.

    Maybe they should rename it FART car.

  • Dave Mac Mini

    goat, well said. I own a 2007 MCS (my 3rd MINI) and I manage a radio station that has a Smart for a station vehicle. We chose the Smart because of the attention it draws, and because we are the smallest station in our area, therefore we drive the smallest car. Since we are in Canada, our Smart is the 40 hp diesel, and since I have driven it a number of times I can concur with some of the comments here, but goat probably said it best. My own feeling about the car, which we have had for about 2 years now, is that it is great for it’s intended purpose, but certainly not a driver’s car. However, it is a hoot to drive, much like the original Beetle, and I cannot say that I have ever felt unsafe driving it. I have done some freeway driving and I have seen 145 kph, which is about 85 miles an hour, and as long as there are no strong crosswinds that speed is fine, but there is nothing left, that’s for sure. Around town, it’s fine, and with snow tires it’s even OK in a Canadian winter, althought the heater is weak. I am told that the gasoline powered version will be better, as diesels tend to run cooler, but time will tell I guess. Would I but one for myself? I don’t think so, as I think, as many have said, that it is overpriced, but it fits the needs of our radio station just fine.

  • http://www.matthew-obrien.com Matt

    The idea of the smart fortwo is not to be a performance vehicle. It is not to see how fast you can go nor to see how many tons or boats or trailers you can tow. It is not to see how many kids you can fit in it or car seats or strollers you can carry around with you. It’s not to see how big of a vehicle you can afford and how much gas you can waste because you make so much money and don’t care about the earth or the environmental or political consequences of consuming excessive amounts of gasoline.

    These vehicles are aimed at the dense urban city populations. As a driver that is stuck in stop-and-go traffic daily, I rarely get above 10 mph. Does a vehicle really need 200 hp when you can’t even get above 20 mph because you are stuck in city traffic? Do you really need 2 or 3 extra rows of seating when the vast majority of urban traffic carries just one person? It would be like going out for dinner and ordering for 7, when it’s just you at the table. This is a notion that we Americans have a very difficult time getting through our heads: WHY WASTE?

    This is not a vehicle that is aimed at dethroning the MINI. It truly is in a class all by itself. And it’s not comparable to a Yaris, Fit or Versa either. The fortwo is engineered for those of us that live in urban cities, park underground in public parking spaces, zip around in the city when we go out to party, pick up a friend here or there or meet someone out for dinner. It’s not meant for families or those with multiple kids. It’s geared for those that are primarily single or partnered, live stacked on top of each other in condos and apartments and park on the streets or in crowded public parking spaces with everyone else.

    The fortwo is also aimed at those who want european style, and will pay a bit more for it than the cookie-cutter Fit, Vibe, Versa, Yaris, etc. Also, the fortwo is about half as expensive as a MINI. A fully-loaded fortwo is around half the price of a fully-loaded MINI. Also, the entire body of the fortwo is plastic (except the tridion safety cell). How many times have you been in the city, parked on the street, and some suburbanite comes in to the city and tries to parallel park, and continually bumps into the unfortunate vehicles they are trying to park between? Or someone opens their door and smacks yours? With the plastic body panels, the repairs for damage are quite minimal compared with having to replace full metal panels. Also, the plastic panels are much more difficult to scratch, dent or ding. In addition, they are completely recyclable.

    The maintenance on these vehicles is supposed to be much more affordable than the MINI. Everyone knows that the MINI is a premium vehicle and is priced to be premium. Its maintenance costs are sky high premium also. The fortwo is supposed to be much more affordable in every way.

    There are plenty of Americans out there without lots of kids, that live in cities and want the freedom of a vehicle, the mobility of small size and benefits of consuming less gasoline. The vehicles are also produced in a very earth-friendly manner.

    No, the smart fortwo is definitely not for every red-blooded American out there. But for those of us budget-conscious in highly populated cities, that want something to get from point A to point B in european style, while being conscious of the planet and our fellow human beings, the fortwo is just right. “Mobility begins in the mind.”

  • NEWDL

    We canceled an order as well after the test drive…that transmission is the devil….no other way to explain it…

  • Matt

    I cannot speak to the Gen 2 Smart Cars, but I did drive an 02′ in Belgium for a weekend. The Smart car does indeed have a niche’. For dense streets in Antewerp (Grote Markt to be specific), tight garages, it was great. Good visability, easy on gas, quick to turn. Outside of it’s element, horrible. Choppy on the road, scary steering, little cargo.

    I could imagine one of these for a train station car, or to drive a few miles to get (a small load of) groceries. Certainly not a Mini in any aspect, but a possible urban runabout. If they could hold the price to closer to $12k decently equipped (ie. A/C, decent stereo and power windows/locks) they might have a better chance. Otherwise, I see a very limited market in the US. Perhaps it will be a steal in a few years on the used car lot?

    Kudos for bringing it over, however! Now if we can just get the Mini Diesels over here…

  • scotteast

    I was the list for a Smart, but cancelled my order a few weeks ago. Once the reviews started coming out, I lost interest. The worst thing was the gas mileage. It’s about 35 MPG in mixed city and highway. I might be willing to ride around in a phone booth on wheels for 50 MPG, but not for 35.

  • bavarian racing green

    …the time change has me a bit brash today, but with all due respect, Matt (the blue one) your euro-urban-eco message is a little empty…

    …you stress in your comment about it’s eco-friendly nature and how it’s good for the environment, but aside from recycling their powder-coating overspray (which makes sense regardless) the mileage on U.S. spec Smarts is estimated at as low as 33-35MPG city and only peaks at 45MPG highway…

    …and no one wants to drive it on the highway, so you are looking at the low-end of that spectrum for an urban-transport, and there are a lot of more versatile options that will give mid-30MPG…

    …i really want to support the Smart but they tried to do too much to please too many people…

    …they compromised themselves right out of the vehicles purpose…

  • neuron

    ok, I like this car and I “get it”. But the niche is so restricted. You have to have no family, no kids, no relative living in another town, or this is you second car, the other being the minivan. If I live in Paris, I’ll be happy to have this car for city driving and take a TGV to visit grandma in Marseille. If I live in Manhattan, I’ll be happy to have this car for city driving but there wil be an issue if I need to go to Philly to visit Uncle Joe. Do you want to take this car, with 3 star Euro crash rating, on the Jersey turnpike? Of course all things are relative, there are people on motorcycle on thefreeway, I assume smart is safer. If you crash into a stationary object, as most of the accident on the highway involve, you are better off in a Smart than if you are in a F150. But smart shoudn’t be on the highway the same reason why scooters and bicycles shouldn’t – it slows the traffic at 0-60 in 12.5sec. OK it does go up to 90mph – if you allow it accelerate in astraight line for 2month As for the green reason, I am all for eco friendly tranportation. But the high population density area the Smart is intended for all have good public transportation system. Why not be really green and take the subway, the L or the BART? Or ride a bike. As for a hip second car, I would personally go for something cooler like a old MG or an Harley with a sidecar.

  • Jordan

    its “Fortwo” a in its ” For Two” ;) not FOURTWO :)

  • http://www.nwiminiacs.com Dean Cory

    MINI USA should ditch the Cooper here in the states and bring the MINI ONE D. Offer just the One D and the Cooper S.
    With Premium pushing near $4.00 a gallon again, I don’t see the base Cooper making much sense any more.

    Oh and BTW The Smart just doesn’t make sense to me!

  • http://www.dickdavid.com dickdavid

    I test drove a smart ForTwo as well and I have to say, this review is spot on. I wanted to like the car as well, but the drive change my opinion very quickly.

  • Ian F

    Dean… As I’m looking at diesel prices about $.70/gal higher than gas right now (will probably become equal in the coming months), I almost wanting to trade my TDI for a Cooper…

    Sometimes I really wonder how many of the MINI ONE D wishers have ever owned and lived with a diesel for any length of time… I own two (the TDI and a Dodge CTD) and would sell both of them in a heartbeat if I could. Neither are all that bad to drive, but both are a real PITA to own.

    My biggest complaint about the Smart is the gas mileage. A car with such a small engine should be getting a HECK of a lot more than 35 mpg. I can’t help but wonder if the MPG figures would improve if the car was offered with a manual transmission.

  • Greg

    Everyone please stop saying “spot on” unless you really are British. Do you say “non starter” too?

    You can’t swing a dead cat in Europe without hitting one of these things. It’s not for me, however, thought they were kind of cool until I read this review. It’s almost scarey.

    They make sense for the Euro urban type with gas prices and lack of parking. At half the price it might be ok for the point A to B folks.

  • http://www.minspeed.net Pete

    My 16 year old wants a car. This is NOT it…

  • Brian

    I’d say it’s an overall good review of the smart.

  • Ian F

    Sorry Greg, some of us watch too much BBC America… We watch it so much I barely notice the accents anymore… ;)

  • Mark Smith a.k.a MINIBro77

    Two Year Warranty kind of sucks don’t you think? It’s the shortest I’ve ever seen on a car. And I thought 36 months or 36,000 miles for American cars was too short. Geez?!

  • neuron

    Jolly good show, ol’man.

    I use “non starter” when I am talking about my jeep.

    My favorite classic – “Are you being served?” They hardly show that anymore

  • Lucas

    From this review, the way SMART shift is very reminiscent of how Mercedes C-series shifts. I’m almost always annoyed when I’m driving my parent’s Mercedes C280. When using the auto-stick function, it shifts like a lazy cow — you click the stick and it mooo and mooo and mooo along for 2-3 seconds before it shifts. Why would anyone use the auto stick function? Likewise the automatic transmission also shifts adequately enough, but then when I want to push it a little, invariably I get annoyed — since it’s response lag (similar to the auto-stick) was simply intolerable.

  • Amethyste

    You are all very biased on the smart and this review shows the ” Smart sucks and MINI is better ” type of cheerleading band wagon. I owned a MINI before that I bought used and my tranny crapped after 31,000 miles on it and MINI didnt do anything for me. I loved the design, but it had its own problems, just the replacement of a $6,000 + transmission made me cringe.

    Actually, the gas prices are at an all time HIGH in the US, so the smart DOES make sense. I strongly suggest to take the time to go to a dealership and test drive on in order to get a real feel for the car. I drove them all the time in Germany and the little car is a blast!! EVERY car has its quirks and I am not saying that the smart is free of them, perhaps these little quirks made the people so attached to them. I guess you all are frustrated cause the MINI has gotten its own show stolen by the “smallest” car now available in the US. Can’t really compare the 2 together, they are so different from each other. We are talking mainly about a smart commuter car with 2 seats and the MINI is a 4 seater. Of course it will have “more room”. Who needs it when you mostly travel by yourself or with the occasional passenger? Why pay money to have emptly space to travel with you when you don’t need it.

  • c4

    Never driven a Smart, but for years I have read reviews stating that they are nothing more than vehicles design for dense urban settings. These cars are nothing more than trendy looking street legal golf carts. Here in Miami I have seen a couple of these in Coconut Grove (One of the hip and trendy areas of the city) but man, never had the desire to own one of those.

    I think the only midly interesting car that Smart sold in Europe was the Smart Roadster but for all accounts was a slow, good looking, poorly built piece of junk. Paul Mullett, ex-owner of MINI2.com, owned a Roadster for about a year but he quickly ditched and went back to MINI.

    I think the Smart has its purpose in the automotive pecking order, but outside of big, congested metropolitan areas is nothing more than a fancy looking golf cart pretending to be a real full time car.

  • c4

    BMW may bring back a modern day Isetta. That would be REAL competition to the Smart. And guess which one will be better?

  • Krodista

    A Base mini cooper costs $18,700 with 0 add-ons. A smart convertible with all options you can add is less than that. The Cooper does have a back seat, but just like most sporty cars its almost worthless unless you have tiny friends who dont mind being cramped. Both cars stock have equally boring interiors, but both have options to spice things up. Both cars are made to “look different” then the other cars on the road. At first Minis were few and far between and owners like myself had tons of people asking questions and taking pictures on the interstate as they drove by. Truth of the matter is that Minis just dont get the same looks they used to (it has become just another car on the road and you see them everywhere). There is less space in a smart, but be honest…both cars are impractical cars that fit a nitch group. Both are safe and both are directed to two different crowds. Sure, if you want to rally or drag race your best bet wouldnt be a smart, but it wouldnt be the base Mini either which has only 0-60 of 8.5. Truth of the matter is, most people looking for thrills will buy the S model and that bases at just under 22, with many options to easily get it well over 30K. for around 18K you can drive a 2 seater convertible decked out with all options, sure its slower and has less room and yes the transmission does take some getting used to, but for what you get its a decent deal. Its apples and oranges people. Hate to say it, but no other car really fits into the smart nitch and many cars fit into the Mini Cooper S nitch (for those seeking thrills), only problem is that Mini S is placing dead last or second to last in every review I have been reading these days. So if not for the speed, then why do people buy them anymore? Because it fills a nitch market for people who want cars to stand out.

  • Paul G

    It looks to me that Gabe gave a very honest review, and he “gets” the idea of the car. He only complained about three main issues:

    1. Steering Feel
    2. Braking Feel
    3. Slow Shifting Transmission

    All three of those things are not inherent design flaws of a car. Everyone can be fixed without adding weight or cost. Just a little tweaking or maybe new design for the transmision. But you wouldn’t have to change the overall design of the car to correct any of them.

    So why is everybody jumping on him saying that this isn’t supposed to be a sports car, or it’s not ment to go fast. After driving lots of underpowered cars for many years I can say they can still be fun to drive AND be much safer if you have good solid feedback from the car as to what it is doing.

    If Smart puts a little bit of work into the car and corrects these issues then maybe they could sell more of them in the US. I hope they do, I REALLY want to see this car succeed. If it does maybe the other auto makers will catch on and we will get some healthy compitition in this market segment. If not, most Americans will file it with the , LeCar and Yugo. Then the “all small cars suck” mentality will get another boost and we will never get a high quality small runabout in the US.


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R50 ('02-'06 MC) Buyers Guide
R53 ('02-'06 MCS) Buyers Guide

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MotoringFile Reviews

Reviews:
'12 JCW Coupe
'11 Fiat 500 Sport
'11 Tesla Roaster 2.5 '11 Countryman Comparo
'11 Cooper S Hatch
'11 Countryman MCS (FWD)
'11 Countryman MC (auto)
'10 Mayfair MCS (auto)
'11 Countryman MCS (ALL4)
'10 MINI E
'10 Tesla Roadster Sport
'09 Cooper S Convertible
'09 JCW Hatch
'09 JCW Clubman
JCW Stage I vs JCW Stage II
'08 Clubman S (Auto)
1st Drive: '08 MINI Clubman
'08 Smart Fourtwo
Comparison: '08 BMW 135i
'06 R53 MCS vs '07 R56 MCS
'07 R56 JCW (Stage 1)
'07 MINI Cooper S Long Term
'07 BMW Z4 M Coupe
'07 MINI Cooper & Cooper S
Audio: '07 MC/MCS at the Track
'06 JCW GP Long term
Reader Review: JCW GP
'06 JCW Cooper S Long Term
Comparison: '06 Lotus Elise
Comparison: '06 Mazda MX5
Comparison: '06 UK Focus ST
Comparison: '06 Civic Si
Comparison: '04 TVR T350
Comparison: '06 Nissan 350z
Comparison: '06 VW GTI w/DSG
Podcast: Cooper S Auto
Podcast: BMW 325i
Podcast: JCW MC Soundkit
'04 JCW MINI Cooper Tuning Kit
'05 MCS: One Month Review
'05 MCS Auto
'05 JCW S 1st Drive
'05 MINI Cooper
'05 MCS Conv. Long Term
'05 MINI Cooper S
'05 MCS Cabrio 1st Drive
'04 JCW MCS First Drive
'04 MC w/JCW Tuning Kit
BMW M3 SMG Vs. MCS
'04 MINI Cooper CVT
'02 MCS 3 year Review
Autocrossing the MINI Range


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