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Smart A**
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Test drove the 451 today at the "by invitation only" event at Euro Motorcars in Germantown, MD. Here are my driving impressions:
1) Can't really comment on the transmission since they were very careful to explain that they were demoing the euro version not the american version. As a result the car would drift backwards when in gear. Had the same feel as a go-cart with a centrifugal clutch..

2) You sit higher in the Smart than just about any other car, giving one the feeling that it is a much larget vehicle than it actually is.

3) The accelleration does not feel anemic in any way, belying it's 13 sec 0-60 specs. I would have thought it was in the sub 10 range, but I never tried to accellerate beyond the 45 mile mark since the test circuit was in-town only.

4) From a road feel standpoint, it isn't nearly as fun to drive as I expected. My MINI is a much better fun/$ value.

5) Plenty of passenger and driver space for folks over 6 foot tall.

6)The official stance on mpg is still "over 40" but the tag-along Smart rep was claiming that they were getting 50-55 mpg at a 65-75 mph cruise.

All in all, I was a bit disappointed. Maybe if I didn't have a MINI I wouldn't be jaded.

Other info:

Orders will be taken in the order that reservations were received. First deliveries expected late 1st qtr 2008. Official dealership announcements will not go out until all of the initial dealerships can be announced. Some ar still in negotiation. Others, like the Germantown dealer, are already a done deal.

I will post a couple of documents that I collected as well.
 

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I'm just back from a test drive. It was the Passion model but the Euro verion. I'm from Philly but the invitation came from a dealership across the river in New Jersey. I assume this will be the one I'll have to deal with. They were getting a steady stream of takers and this was a Monday afternoon before the work crowd lets out.

I'll try to provide comments in ordering matching the prior posting.

1) The "gear change" while in manual assist is very noticeable. The Smart drive along person said that you tend to adapt to it over time and can anticipate it. Also that the US version has had some work done to improve this.

2) The fit of the car is just fine. If you didn't look behind you it felt like a normal size small car. In fact it felt very open looking forward with the windown placements.

3) Accelleration was fine. I just had to get use to the pedals that seemed to acquire a bit more pressure applied to them especially the brake.

4) From a road feel standpoint, it was not as nimble feeling as I expected.

5) Plenty of passenger and driver space for folks over 6 foot tall - agree

6)dunno

As far as the the "Smart Invitation Only even" anyone who drove by could have had a test drive. The biggest marketing thing that had there was a few balloons, music, and some snack. There were very few if any marketing materials and no give aways except for bottles of water. I felt they really missed a good marketing opportunity to put the word and visual picture out there. Give the people that already are interested some stickers, hats or shirts. Someone certainly does not understand how to market.

On another front I kind of felt ignored by the "salesman" at the Mercedez-Benz dealership. they would stop and talk to the older males who looked like they might also be able to size up but forget the women or Mom's with school age kids (first car). Hope they don't all turn out to be too snooty.

All in all I learned alot about the Smart car. I know I definitely have to test drive the US version before making a final decision.
 

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This is strange- I'm sure I test drove the US version at Ray Catena in NJ. I know it had the Mitsubushi motor because I saw the drain plug-canister oil filter. What gives?
 

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Euro Smarts

Lewis.

Although they have the Mitsu engine, all the cars on the tour were Euro models.

I understand the trans is improved on the USA models and there are changes to the shifter labelling.

I don't think anyone has yet written a report on a true 2008 USA Smart.

A2jack
 

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Euro versus US Spec

Lewis,

The car you drove was a Euro spec version of the 451 (aka "new model smart"). The US spec version was still being finalized and not in production at the time the street smart tour kicked off. The differences on the US spec model will be minor: things like the speedometer marked in mph, addition of a park position on the gear selector, reflective side markers built into the front light unit, and (allegedly) some recalibration of the gear shift itself. Actual equipment may vary as well (wheel style, glove box lid, electric mirrors, etc.). Other than that, the car you drove is essentially the same as the US version, including the same Mitsubishi engine (although the final emissions tuning will be tweaked to meet state and federal standards).
 

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All little driving quirks. I think I can get used to them. My Neon has about 180 horse with all the mods but that sort of acceleration isn't necessary. A few days behind the wheel of the Smart and we'll adjust I think. It's so hard to be patient. hehehe :rolleyes: I'd really like to get it out on the open road not just creeping around town for a few blocks, ya know? :cool:
 

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I test drove the Smart about a month before buying one in Austin, Texas. The transmission seemed a little weird to me at the time but now that I'm driving one it really cool. It's fun to drive and the transmission just makes you feel the road more, something Americans need to connect with more and get off their cell phones.
 

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From out of the past; thanks for bringing this one back to life. I think you're right, the transmission grows on you. :)
 
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