cannot ignore a smart car on the road as it stands out from the crowd
with its cheeky approach and nimble manoeuvering.
Like many others, I was familiar with the car and had often peered
curiously into its interior when I came across one parked up.
It was with a little apprehension then, that I approached the test
car, it looked almost too small to be taken seriously on today's busy
its small size, it feels like a people-carrier when you sit inside
It took a moment to readjust to its left hand drive layout - right
hand drive models are to appear in November - the controls fell easily
right hand drive models are coming out in November, left hand drive
cars do not leave you at that much of a disadvantage in city traffic.
width the car and close proximity of the rear window meant you had
very few blind spots despite the steering wheel being on the 'wrong
There are a couple
of negative points though.
The raised driving position gives a commanding view of the traffic,
instilling confidence and dispelling any fears of being bullied
by fellow motorists.
Starting up the rear mounted engine was quiet enough with only a
slight exhaust boom detectable when accelerating away in traffic.
The car had a rather handy "clutchless six-speed sequential
gearbox" with a "fully automatic override button"
which means you can drive in full automatic mode, letting the car
chose its own gears or you can nudge the gearstick up or down to
hurry its progress along.
The ride was good considering how short the wheel base is and didn't
seem too unsettled by the poor quality of most of the city's roads.
Moving along in the traffic was almost a pleasure with the car's
agile steering and dramatic turning circle - it is 8.7m if you have
to know. With a claimed top speed of 84 mph it seemed agile enough
to cope with any road system.
I have passed smart cars on the busy M4 motorway, the drivers did
not appear too ashen-faced or white-knuckled, so I assume they behave
OK on those roads - good luck to you if you fancy trying it!
Parking is the smart car's trump card. I was able to pick any number
of spots that even the smallest super-mini would avoid and drive
right in, front bumper towards the kerb, in effortless smugness.
If things do go horribly wrong and you bend the car's bodywork,
all the thermoplastic panels can be replaced in just over an hour.
As Swatch the watchmakers also had a hand in the design you can
buy different colour panels and change the look of the car completely
if you wish.
Space in the back for shopping but don't expect to take the kids
with you, with no spare wheel provided, that trip to the shops might
take a bit longer than expected if you get a puncture.
Its main drawback to me is that it's only a two-seater, so if ferrying
friends or children about is something you do regularly then this
is not the car for you .
When you buy a smart you do not have a spare wheel included - at all.
You either have to buy an extra one and carry it around in the back
sacrificing the already small boot space or carry around a can of
self-inflating tyre repair.
These points aside
I felt the car was a brave step forward in addressing the problem
of too many cars, too little space. In its urban environment the smart
excels, and to be fair, its prime role is to provide cheap, practical
fun motoring for the commuter.
There are plans to build a four seat, five door model aimed at family
Although it will address one criticism of the car, it will put the
smart head-to-head against its mainstream opposition for the first
Time will tell if that proves to be a smart move for the company.