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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
the experiece was great! The people were friendly, it wasn't really busy so I was able to hop in, out & all around of the demo, drove two of the testers (one cabrio, one hardtop w/ glass roof) and was pleasantly surprised overall.

The highs:
The product was great & interesting, there was lots to see in the form of videoclips & safety features (all of which I have already seen on the internet) and I like the stripped-down cross-section of a smart, to show all the safety doo-dads.

The lows:
The power and power delivery of the car was like a 1970s sedan with a slippy transmission. It had pep and get-up-&-go, but the car switched gears at its own pace. Power was good, just not constant. I truly see the issue people have with this, getting plowed by a rig while getting on the freeway.

The Iffys (or the "eventually-will-get-over's"):
This car was unlike any automatic I have driven---when your foot leaves the brake, the car just sits there (on FLAT ground; on a hill it would roll back!). The brake feel was heavy but gradual & overall pretty smooth, but even two test-drives didn't fully get me used to it.

Overall, though, I wouldn't be nervous driving this at all---it's actually very eye-catching, which makes you very visible. Some reviews I read said that if you're mostly a freeway driver, this isn't the car for you; I find that to not necessarily be true, as it's a smoother ride than most cars twice its size. I'm still in the market, and am now steering more towards the Pure---i really wanted a Pasion for the paddle-shifters, but the stick does the same service & quite frankly, the shifting is so ill-responsive I find that I'd probably just leave it in "auto" mode anyways. However, open-top motoring in this little whip would give driving a fun, exciting feel. We'll just have to see what the wife says :D
 

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Wow, thanks for that first-hand review of your smart test drive. The smart tour is supposed to be in Tampa, Florida on the 27th and 28th of October, but I can't find any 411 on exactly where and what time of day, etc. I live one city away from Tampa and would LOVE, love, love to test drive a smart. Heck, I'd love to even see a smart up close and personal. Thanks again for reporting on your experience. Hey, what was the transmission like, exactly, as I have read info. that basically makes me think it is sort of automatic and sort of manual, like some sort of in-between type of deal...can you clarify what it is? Anyway, I can't wait for the tour to roll in here. Yay!
 

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It is a combo auto/manual and I don't know all the technical aspects, but here's what I experienced:

You can have it in Auto or Manual mode, but there is no clutch to change gears (so it's not like a normal manual transmission). In Auto, the car decides when it needs to change gears, and in Manual, you use either the gear shifter or the steering wheel paddles to shift up or down.

It is weird getting used to the gear changes ... there's a definite lag. In a normal automatic transmission car, you can just press the gas really hard and go really fast, but in the smart you have to kind of anticipate when you want the car to shift (yes, I'm talking about automatic) and let up on the gas a little to let it shift.

It'll take some getting used to when I actually own the car (fingers crossed!!) but I don't think it's that big of a deal.

I'm hoping for a yellow one ... so I should be VERY visible!! :)
 

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The shifting experience described is very similar to that on my 1965 Mercedes with a 4 speed automatic transmission. In order to upshift, you had to momentarily lift on the throttle. It had no torque converter so it was very choppy upshifting if you didn't lift. The upside is that it would offer very positive engine braking when manually down shifting. Seems like Mercedes reached into its archives for this transmission design.
 
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