Smart Car of America Forum banner

1 - 20 of 56 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
42 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Thinking about one for my next car, probably next year but wanted assurance they're fairly reliable. I don't care what Consumer Reports says about the low testing score; I just want to know if the 453 is reasonably dependable. Maybe it's too early to ask; this design hasn't been on the market long enough to truly assess that. Nevertheless, while I'd not have bought a ForTwo in its earlier 451 design, I really like the new, wider 453 on paper. Can any of you tell me if you've any issues with the 453 yet. I'd buy the automatic for better gas mileage. Thank you all so much for any comments. 0:)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
42 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
Just adding that I want to know if anyone in here runs their ForTwo on 89 octane midgrade gas? The premium fuel recommendation (or is it a requirement?) is a bugaboo for me; seems a bit odd. Can one get away with using 89 octane, maybe with a slight power and fuel efficiency hit? Thanks again!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,476 Posts
Other than the gas tank nuisance issue which is being worked out, a couple of media quibbles, an occasional alarm switch repair, and a few one-off niggles, the 453 has been amazingly free of serious troubles. Mechanicals all seem to work well, with a high level of fit and finish. My smart service manager reported that the 453 has been extremely reliable and generally trouble-free during its first year in the US.

It's an important car that's benefited from a long and well-funded developmental process.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
42 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for that update. I'll keep checking for more; not doing anything until at least spring of next year. Hope these few issues get worked out by then. The media will always pan this car in some way so my decision will be based on reliability but I'd like to know if the car can run on 89 octane fuel instead of 91. I know it would likely take a small power and MPG hit; maybe I'd alternate between 89 and 91 octane fuel between tankfuls. Unlike many of you, I'd just get a basic Pure coupe with the automatic; not looking at the upscale designer versions. That the car now has a 4 year, 50,000 mile warranty also increases the likelihood of my buying one; the earlier 451's 2 year, 24,000 mile warranty was less than other car makers' warranties. The closest Smart Center to me is 19 miles away but I'd likely rate it and the other regional dealers not too far away. Though this is much smaller car than any others I've owned, I think I could make it work for me even though I'd be driving mostly on the highway and not in city traffic. It appeals to me largely on low price but also because in some ways, it comes across like a fun little sports coupe. Though fairly slow, I imagine it's pretty fun to drive based on YouTube video reports I've seen.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,572 Posts
The car is designed to run on Premium fuel. The difference in price is really negligible over the long haul. It is not a recommendation but a requirement. The 453 engine is a small, high performance turbocharged engine and requires the characteristics of Premium fuel.

The 453 has been out in other parts of the world for about 2 years and, other than those minor things mentioned in a previous post, doesn't seem to have any serious issues so far.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
42 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Thanks OliverB for clarifying that. In the past, some small Chrysler Turbos have had an 89 octane rating but you're right about the small difference in price. Where I usually gas up, on Wed. & Sat, they knock 5 cents off of 91 octane, bring the per gallon price difference down to only 5 cents for every gallon bought; on other days it's 10 cents, still very small, especially when you're only buying about 7 to 8 gallons each time. With some cars, premium is recommended but not required. I certainly wouldn't have tried 87 octane; I just thought maybe I could occasionally get away with mixing 89 with 91. If Smart specifically states 91 is required, I wouldn't use anything else; was just thinking I could save a few more pennies.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
665 Posts
When you have a Smartie you want to get the most fun out of it. Premium fuel maximizes engine power helping you get those wicked smiles on your face while driving. Of course, seeing as this is a new year event, the new 453 ED will be out and then you won't have to worry about gas prices at all! :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
42 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
I likely wouldn't go for the ED; my car must be outside, not in the garage so recharging would require running a cord under the garage door. Not practical for me. And with an ED, I'd have some range anxiety since it's not possible to recharge at work. Most days I could get by with it but I'd rather not have that to worry about. But I get it that most turbo motors require at least 91 octane gas. Premium was recommended for the old 451 but, from what I heard, not required since it didn't have a turbo. It just had better performance and fuel economy with 91 octane than with lower grades. Heck, the Mazda MX-5 Miata doesn't even have a turbo engine but is tuned for 91 octane although with that car you might be able to get away with 89 octane, albeit with a small hit on performance. The ForTwo is really more about compactness and low cost than it is about MPGs and you could also think of it as a baby sports coupe or cabriolet. If the specs say 91 octane is REQUIRED, that's what must go in. Thank you!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
164 Posts
i put 87 octane in my 09 that "requires" premium. it has 97,000 miles now. i would prolly use premium in the new smarts because of turbo....
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
42 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
If cost of gas was a prime motivator, I'd end up with another Prius which still could happen if I decide I need a bigger car. But I'm betting a new Prius, though it has a much improved driving character, wouldn't be nearly as much fun as a ForTwo. I'm a bit leery of turbos because I think they add an extra future maintenance and repair headache but I see why the new ForTwo has one. With the width and corresponding weight increase, Smart needed to add power without increasing engine displacement (for which there wasn't space). Taking the motor from 70 HP in the 451 to 89 HP in the 453 was needed but it's a shame no diesel version is offered in the U.S. Guess they felt the U.S. market just isn't big enough. Mightyss, do you notice a drop in power and MPG with 87 octane in your 451? Chances are, I'd use 89 octane if I'd bought a 451.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,653 Posts
i put 87 octane in my 09 that "requires" premium. it has 97,000 miles now. i would prolly use premium in the new smarts because of turbo....
Turbo has nothing to do with it..It's the engine and it's compression ratio that requires premium to avoid knocking. As said before we have discussed this to the point that there no more point to talk about... It's your car and if it works, so be it.....Premium for my smart thanks.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
42 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
Turbo has nothing to do with it..It's the engine and it's compression ratio that requires premium to avoid knocking. As said before we have discussed this to the point that there no more point to talk about... It's your car and if it works, so be it.....Premium for my smart thanks.
Fair point and yes, other non-turbo cars like the Mazda MX-5 Miata need premium, as earlier stated. But I think mightyss can better get away with not using 91 in a non-turbo 451 than in the 453. If I was him, I'd use 89 octane instead of 87 but only 91 octane in a 453, as required.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
42 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
To any 453 owners out there with the new Twinamic automatic; what do you think of it? One reason I never considered a ForTwo before were the bad reports I read about the 451's automated manual roughness that contributed to the car's Worse Than Average reliability by Consumer Reports. YouTube video reports I've seen suggest the Twinamic is MUCH better than that old automanual. Chances are, if it's a lot smoother, it will also be more reliable. I know you can also buy a 5 speed manual now but in traffic congested New Jersey, I'd rather not be shifting so often, wearing out a clutch. Plus the Twinamic delivers better fuel economy than the 5 speed although it blunts acceleration a bit. Just wondering, thanks!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
912 Posts
It's too early to know whether these cars will be good for 200,000 miles / 300,000 km, or what the eventual weak points will turn out to be (and surely there will be some ... there's always something). All that's known so far is that the launch went OK with only a few glitches that are minor in the grand scheme. No one outside of M-B and Renault has put enough mileage (and age) on them to see what happens in the long term.

My 451 went almost 235,000 km, which I'm happy with, I got my money's worth. What did it in was what has always been that model's Achilles heel from day one ... the automated clutch. That plus the air conditioning made the cost of repair exceed what the car was worth, and that's when it's time for me to move on.

The 453 has one complicated gizmo that the 451 didn't ... a turbocharger. But we've had several turbocharged cars in the family and never had a lick of trouble from the turbo. I took two of them well past 400,000 km. In this day and age, this is not a durability issue.

The 453 lacks one thing that some manufacturers have been having trouble with ... direct-injection. A lot of direct-injection gasoline engines are having trouble with carbon build-up on the intake valves. No direct-injection ... no problem.

As with the 451, there is no timing belt to worry about.

If you buy a row-your-own, there's no automated clutch. The Getrag dual-clutch automatic is an unknown. I don't know if any other manufacturer has used that specific unit. VW's BorgWarner dual-clutch automatic has proven OK after initial teething troubles; Ford never figured theirs out (and theirs is Getrag!).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
42 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
It's too early to know whether these cars will be good for 200,000 miles / 300,000 km, or what the eventual weak points will turn out to be (and surely there will be some ... there's always something). All that's known so far is that the launch went OK with only a few glitches that are minor in the grand scheme. No one outside of M-B and Renault has put enough mileage (and age) on them to see what happens in the long term.

My 451 went almost 235,000 km, which I'm happy with, I got my money's worth. What did it in was what has always been that model's Achilles heel from day one ... the automated clutch. That plus the air conditioning made the cost of repair exceed what the car was worth, and that's when it's time for me to move on.

The 453 has one complicated gizmo that the 451 didn't ... a turbocharger. But we've had several turbocharged cars in the family and never had a lick of trouble from the turbo. I took two of them well past 400,000 km. In this day and age, this is not a durability issue.

The 453 lacks one thing that some manufacturers have been having trouble with ... direct-injection. A lot of direct-injection gasoline engines are having trouble with carbon build-up on the intake valves. No direct-injection ... no problem.

As with the 451, there is no timing belt to worry about.

If you buy a row-your-own, there's no automated clutch. The Getrag dual-clutch automatic is an unknown. I don't know if any other manufacturer has used that specific unit. VW's BorgWarner dual-clutch automatic has proven OK after initial teething troubles; Ford never figured theirs out (and theirs is Getrag!).
Thanks so much for such an elaborate reply, GoFaster. I was aware of the Ford dual-clutch automatic issues in the Focus and Fiesta models. Perhaps the 5-speed manual will prove more reliable in the long run but manual shifting in heavy traffic is such a chore plus the Twinamic has a better EPA fuel economy rating than the manual, as is typical today (but not years ago). Think I'd take a chance on it. Glad Smart FINALLY scrapped the automated manual; sounds like they should've done it years ago. Funny you mention the lack of a timing belt; I had a 1985 Renault Encore (R11 in France) I neglected to get the belt replaced at 60,000 miles; it later snapped at 82,000 miles and wrecked the engine valves, causing me to buy a new car thereafter. Good the ForTwo lacks it. Given we're stuck with a turbo for the U.S. market, I'd have to take a chance with that but it likely helps make the car more fun to drive. Glad you got so many KMs out of yours, hearing that encourages me a lot. Take it you have a 453 now; are you liking it more than the 451?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,199 Posts
Think the biggest beef Consumer Reports and the like (plus the "general public") had with the 451's transmission was that they were driving it expecting it to be an automatic transmission... but when they felt that large delay between gears, they thought "Ugh... this thing shifts SOOO SLOW!".... completely ignoring the fact that it WASN'T an automatic. It was essentially a manual transmission, just with a computer controlled clutch and gear changes. hence, slow.

As far as the Diesel... it's not just the US. The 451 was the second and, as far as we're aware, last model to have an optional diesel. They completely ditched it on the 453. In Europe, there are 3 different engine choices available. The turbo'd 89HP engine, the NA 70HP engine, and one slightly smaller than that.

In regards to the 453 transmission... When i had my 451, i always told myself that i'd probably buy another Smart if they had a stronger engine. NEVER expected it to also come standard with a 5-speed, too! SOOOO Much more enjoyable for me. Not a huge fan of automatic transmissions. Yea, city driving/traffic crawling can be rough... but you just gotta learn what gear to be in to creep along at what speed. There are times on my work commute home where i'll sit in traffic at one spot almost every day that i'd leave in the afternoon, and i can leave it in first or second, never touch the gas pedal, and almost never have to use the clutch. It's also a pretty light clutch (obviously), so it's not that big of a deal. Not like the clutch in my brother's diesel pickup, where you feel like after a week of driving it, your left leg would be noticeably larger than your right.

Gas mileage wise... What kind of driving do you do? usually highway? City? Mix of both? In my travels, I usually average about 45MPG with my 5-speed. I can easily live with that. lol

And yes, it's SOOOO much fun! Loved driving my 451. Stupidly, i traded that in on a 2013 Dodge Dart, because i wanted something that i could put roof racks on for my stand-up paddle board. HATED that car. Did not enjoy driving it. For being a 1.4L Turbo, it was kind of a dog. Absolutely HORRID in the snow. Not to mention the issues i had with it. Traded that garbage in on my current 453 last December... and i can still say i love every minute of driving the car. It's quick... probably quicker than most people would expect (especially people i've been next to at a stop light).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,476 Posts
To any 453 owners out there with the new Twinamic automatic; what do you think of it?


I absolutely love it, and I'm a die-hard manual transmission guy. The DCT is faster and smoother than I could ever do. It always picks the right gear for everyday use, but If I'm in a control-freak mode, I have my paddles. A few had remarked on what they felt was an occasionally-rough 2>1 downshift. This never bothered me, and went away on its own after a few hundred miles. It's a great transmission; reason enough to buy the car for the transmission alone. I've never heard a bad word from anyone on here who owns the DCT.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
42 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
Thanks so much, ElementalDragon, for your spirited and elaborate response. I don't think I could have asked for a better testimonial for the 453. BTW, Consumer Reports tests cars for the average driver and you guys are not average, by any means. Your passion shows that! Maybe I'd consider the manual; it's likely even more fun than the Twinamic to drive. I mean, it's nearly sacrilege to equip a Miata with an automatic, right?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,199 Posts
Haha.... yea... i guess you could put it that way. And you'd kinda think CR would test the cars, report how they are, and report WHY they are the way they are. You know... to ENLIGHTEN the "average driver".

The main reason i'm not a huge fan of automatic transmission's in cars is just cause I'm not a huge fan of putting it in drive, and the only worrying about the gas and brake. It's just boring to me. Yea, if you're driving down a highway, it's no different... but it's the in-between that helps.

Best thing i can say is, when it's getting close to the time when you're considering buying one.... if you truly have the notion of buying a Smart set in your mind... take a trip to your local Smart Center and test drive both of them. I only ever test drove the 5-speed before i purchased one... so I couldn't really give you a personal opinion on the Twinamic (though i think maybe when i'm at the dealer next time... who knows when that'll be... i might ask if i could test drive the auto, just to see how it is). It's just such a blast. I've even met a few people who were surprised that it actually comes with a manual transmission. One thing you can almost always expect with a Smart..... attention. haha
 
1 - 20 of 56 Posts
Top