I went to the Baltimore event today. The wait to drive was about 25 minutes. I was reasonably impressed with the car. The ride was pretty good on the bumpy streets of Federal Hill, and the car had adequate acceleration. I did not notice any of the harshness of the engine that I had seen mentioned elsewhere.The highest speed must have been about 30 mph at best. I did notice the slow gear shift, but it was nothing excessive. It must have been > 90 degrees outside, and the car's AC handled it well.
Overall, the test drive made me feel more positive about the car.
I went to the Baltimore tour today. It was a good excuse to get some Bal'mer crab cakes at Lexington Market and Italian pastries in Little Italy, as well as to get a second test drive. The tour stopped at the American Visionary Art Museum, and the Smart Car skeleton fit in well with the outdoor sculpture. Perhaps they can make it a permanent exhibit.
The rumor among the attendees was the nearest dealer to Baltimore would be in Annapolis, Maryland. Perhaps that's why, when the CBS affiliate in DC did a Smart Car story two days ago, it went to Annapolis to do it. The story is posted on the web, but under the rules of this forum I can't post the link, because this is only my second posting. (Go to wusa9 dot com and browse the videos to find the story.) Does anyone know whether there was an invitation-only event there this week?
Two observations on the second drive. As smartie wrote above, the air conditioning was more than adequate on a hot day. At least, it was in the front seats, and what do we care about any rear-seat passengers. Second, none of the tour cars has power steering, and I didn't feel any need for it. If power steering weren't included in the "comfort package," I'm not sure I'd order it on its own.
The power steering will be electric. Therefore, it will not be as significant a power draw compared to mechanical PS. That being said, I still think PS is completely unnecessary. I have driven a front-wheel drive SAAB without PS that weighed about 500 kg more than the smart and even that was managable, and a good workout too!