Smart Car of America Forum banner

1 - 20 of 56 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Everyone:

I've always been interested in owning a Smart Car. One question I have is about the transmission: is the transmission in automatic mode as bad as reviewers say it is? Reading blogs it looks like everyone drives SmartCars in manual mode. I prefer a automatic transmission and would rather not bother with the shifting. This explains my question about a Smartcar transmission in automatic mode.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
28,240 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,285 Posts
Our 2007 Passion 450 has the six speed transmission and is driven in the A-mode virtually all the time. We have no complaints, but note that the 451 drivers do complain sometimes. Maybe the six speed is coming back in a newer model for a good reason.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
206 Posts
I have an 09 Model(451). I almost always drive it in auto mode. The reviewers are used to driving cars with buttery smooth 6 speed automatics.

This isn't a true automatic. It is automated. Which means you still feel the gear shifts as if you yourself were clutching and shifting, but you get the convenience of an automatic. Does it take a day to get used to? Yes. Is it the worst thing since the Aztec like all the reviewers claim? Hell no. It is FUN to drive.

You can't make this decision based on the opinions of reviewers OR us. You need to get some seat time in one and drive it for yourself.

There are a few smart owners in the STL area if you don't want to go to the Creve Coeur dealer to try it. Or come 2 1/2 hours up I55 and I'll let you check mine out.

But you need to drive it for yourself before you dismiss it based on boneheaded reviewers, or get sold by us die-hard owners.

Good luck!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
465 Posts
Let me state for the record that I hate automatic transmissions!

I figured the Smart would let me have my cake and eat it too. Manual but not have to work the clutch which inflames my left heel. I've always owned manuals.

I drive almost always in auto mode and have no complaints. I think the biggest issue folks have is most have never driven a manual transmission. So auto mode which is really just the computer shifting the manual feels like a manual. Which translates into weird for folks only exposed to auto's.

Given a couple of days it becomes a non-issue non-event.

The only hiccups I ever notice is when coming to a stop and then step on the gas before stopping. This can confuse the software for a moment and may cause a little lag while the computer tries to figure out which gear you want. The solution for that is simple. Come to a full stop. Then take off. Other than that little thing no complaints at all. Just don't expect it to feel like an auto transmission. It's not. But it shifts just fine.

Also remember most of what is written on the web and in reviews for the Smart was written by people who have probably never even driven one. That becomes painfully obvious after you've been exposed to the car and begin to wonder what car it was exactly they were writing about. Read enough of them and you can even tell which review they plagerized to write theirs.

Best advise is to take one for a long test drive or if you have the chance rent one for a weekend. By the time the drive is over you will know if it works for you. If you walk away feelling like "Gee that was fun, Can I do it again?" Then the Smart is for you. If you walk away going, "You have got to be kidding me, People actually drive these things?" In that case move on.

After a year and a 1/2 wqith my '13 Pure I can honestly say, "Gee that was fun, When can I do it again?!"

The fact that my last fill up was my best so far doesn't hurt either. 44.7 MPG. Avg since new 40mpg. Auto mode gets better mileage.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,471 Posts
I drive in auto mode most of the time. I suggest you accelerate gradually until you get the hang of it. Flooring it will cause the car to hobby horse. A little gentle practice & you will be good.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
185 Posts
I have a 2013 and from what I can tell in reading here, SMART has continually upgraded the transmission almost every year.

I drive a combo of automatic and manual modes...

I drive manual just to impress myself with how smooth I can make the car shift.

I leave it in full automatic when my hands are full.

Lots of reviewers will focus their attention on creating new metaphors to denigrate the transmission (a recent example: like a rocking horse on amphetamines), but I guess I "get" the transmission.

If anything, I think it's kinda cool.
 

·
DrKillerBee
Joined
·
1,493 Posts
I'm in St. Louis and would gladly let you experience my '13 smart. You can test drive one at the smart Center at Plaza Motors as well. You have to understand the tranny is a stick without using a clutch so it feels like you are using a clutch with the resulting hesitation with your body falling forward with the shift. It sounds strange but it just takes getting used to and I like it. I will PM you so you can contact me directly.
Mick
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
109 Posts
I never feel the body falling forward when driving in auto mode which for me is nearly all the time. Once used to driving a smart most drivers never even think about it being any different. One poster here felt the shift from first to second was so slow that it caused his smart to be rear ended twice. I normally find me accelerating away from drivers behind me.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
10,363 Posts
I have a 2008 Smart Fortwo Pure. I only drive in the 'auto' mode. It is like the manual mode in that the power goes down, one lifts off the gas a little and it shifts automatically. It is like a manual that a one legged person can drive. It took - for me anyway - a short time to adjust but it was not that hard. I really enjoy driving my little car. Herb.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,476 Posts
The smart transmission "stigma" created by (so-called) reviewers is unfortunate, and is the result of impatience and/or incompetence by those experts who got confounded by something new to them.

I loved my smart's transmission. It never lurched when I drove it. It didn't lag. It never struggled to find the right gear. And it was a blast, all the time. In 'auto' mode, or in any mode.

All it takes to drive a smart transmission properly is to RELAX, and quit overthinking the process. If you get in as a first-timer, and right away start to compare each timid shift with what you've driven previously, you will fail to experience its brilliance.

You just need to let it happen. Settle in. Trust that you and your new smart will quickly and naturally get in sync.

Just notice how many people here love the smart's transmission. The overriding question, however, is whether you can embrace a car that is radically different than anything else on the road, and makes no apology for it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,588 Posts
Kool Aid drinkers aside, the "D" mode on the 451 is a disaster and an accident waiting to happen. It confuses easily, hesitates and can leave you "high and dry" in the face of on-coming fast traffic.

I have owned this car 6 years, have all the upgrades, and the trans in "D" is still a major discomfort. Now the only time I drive this car in "D" is when I forget to switch to paddles when first starting out. (Car defaults to "D" when shut off.)

This crappy preforming trans is main reason this car did not sell here in the US and is still panned daily on the internet by most auto "experts".

Too bad... A2jack
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,505 Posts
If you are used to torque converter slush boxes, the smart's automatic mode is quite dire. The new 453 should be a bit better, but still not nearly as smooth as a Torqueflyte.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,295 Posts
I've put 157K enjoyable miles on my smart, and the transmission is a non-issue for me. BUT, I've had manual transmission vehicles for most of my life. The smart tranny acts like what it is, a manual transmission. It may be computer controlled, but it's still a manual. It has synchro's, and shift rails, and it moves gears just the same. It most certainly isn't a traditional planetary automatic with a torque converter, and that is what folks don't like.

Sure, the ECU gets confused once in a while, and I blame MB engineering for that. But 99% of the time, it performs it's job very well. Call me a koolaid drinker if you like, but one of the best features of the car is the ability to go from auto to manual mode and back at the flip of a lever. Makes for a fun driving experience in my book.:D
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
Your response made me smile, JustALittleSmart. Thanks for the offer. When I'm in the market for a new car I'll probably go to TriStar Mercedes (if they sell Smarts) or to Plaza motors to drive a Smart. Have a great day.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
87 Posts
I have never driven in manual, so I can't compare auto and manual modes. There might be a few situations when I would be able to shift gears better than the car's computer because I know what I am trying to do, but assume those are limited. That said, I can't pull out into traffic going 55mph from a stop and expect to merge in without others having the adjust their driving. I don't really think using manual would accelerate the car faster.

Sometimes, I wish I could totally disable the manual mode. From time to time, I have bumped the paddles and shifted the car from automatic to manual. Since I am not used to the manual, I don't want to stay there for long. Unless there is another way to get out of manual, I need to grab the gear shift and slide it left and back right again to return to automatic mode.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,295 Posts
I have never driven in manual, so I can't compare auto and manual modes. There might be a few situations when I would be able to shift gears better than the car's computer because I know what I am trying to do, but assume those are limited. That said, I can't pull out into traffic going 55mph from a stop and expect to merge in without others having the adjust their driving. I don't really think using manual would accelerate the car faster.

Sometimes, I wish I could totally disable the manual mode. From time to time, I have bumped the paddles and shifted the car from automatic to manual. Since I am not used to the manual, I don't want to stay there for long. Unless there is another way to get out of manual, I need to grab the gear shift and slide it left and back right again to return to automatic mode.
Hold the right paddle for about 3 seconds, that will put you back in auto.:)
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
682 Posts
I've owned a 3 different Smart's...an '09...an '11...and now a '13...

The drive-train (and transmission) of the current 451 series Smart never inspires much driver confidence...the vehicle as offered in United States is underpowered with a lackluster non-turbo Mitsubishi power-plant...the reviewers are absolutely correct about the transmission operation...it does not provide a very satisfying driving experience!

The 451 is a cute little urban vehicle...but the drive train & suspension engineering leave much to be desired!
 
1 - 20 of 56 Posts
Top