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Thoughts on buying a Smart car? - Open Knowledge — LiveJournal

Nov. 27th, 2007

05:17 pm - Thoughts on buying a Smart car?

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So, I’m thinking about buying a Smart car. I like the cars because they get good gas mileage (40+ mpg), they’ve been on sale in Europe for over a decade (so many of the bugs have been worked out), and they’re tiny. I mean, really tiny. A Smart car (106 in) is over 3 ft shorter than a Mini Cooper (145 in).

Thus, they can be parked almost anywhere. Which is a really big feature for someone like me. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, and I hate looking for parking.

Plus, they’re really cute:

112_news060628_01z+daimler_chrysler_smart_car+passenger_side_view

The main disadvantage for me is their lack of cargo capacity. However, I think I’ve found a solution for that:

bild1

Also, with a stock engine, they also don’t have a whole lot of pick up and go. The stock engine only has 60 HP 71 HP, after all. However, if you swap in a 180hp Suzuki GSX-R1000 engine, the car can go 0-60 in 4.2 sec. and 12.4 in the quarter mile.

They’re due to begin sales in the U.S. in the first quarter of next year.

Anyone drive one of these? What are your thoughts?

Original: craschworks - comments

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From:coderay
Date:November 28th, 2007 12:34 am (UTC)
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My thoughts on these cars is that they don't look very safe. I haven't seen any data that indicates any level of safety, but I just can't imagine the passenger compartment surviving any significant impact.

Safety aside, the efficiency and convenience (except cargo) seem worthwhile.
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From:crasch
Date:November 28th, 2007 12:37 am (UTC)
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Yeah, there are inherent limitations to how safe you can make it. Here are some crash results:


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From:kindofstrange
Date:November 28th, 2007 12:35 am (UTC)
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I love little smart cars for cruising around the city. I wouldn't own one if I was going to be commuting long distances on a regular basis, but for tooling around the city they're tough to beat.

I personally wouldn't be able to have one save for as a secondary vehicle. I always have want of being able to haul decently sized stuff and material, and would seriously dislike cutting out that option (renting a truck is still, in general, too much of a pain in the ass for spontaneous 'I found a cool thing!' recovery missions)
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From:crasch
Date:November 28th, 2007 12:47 am (UTC)
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Yeah, I plan to get a pickup eventually, as well. I also plan on getting a trailer for it.
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From:frogpyjamas
Date:November 28th, 2007 12:39 am (UTC)
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My first thought: Would not drive on freeway.

I think they would be primarily of use for San Francisco dwellers - do you come into the city that often that you need such a small car? Aren't all the suburban parking spaces regular sized?
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From:coderay
Date:November 28th, 2007 12:43 am (UTC)
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My experience with parking spaces in LA is that they are ALL too small. And I drive a Civic.
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From:kittles
Date:November 28th, 2007 12:41 am (UTC)
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mizalaina has one. She seems to LOVE hers. I rode in it and it seemed roomy enough.
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From:crasch
Date:November 28th, 2007 12:45 am (UTC)
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Thanks!
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From:merccom
Date:November 28th, 2007 12:42 am (UTC)
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only a little over 40mpg??? at that size i would think they would get significanly better

>>>with a stock engine, they also don’t have a whole lot of pick up and go. The stock engine only has 60 HP, after all.

the model T only had about 20hp, the original VW bug had about 40.

>>>However, if you swap in a 180hp Suzuki GSX-R1000 engine

this is america jack! use a V twin with juice.

any idea what the price range would be?
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From:crasch
Date:November 28th, 2007 12:45 am (UTC)
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Yeah, I'm surprised that the mileage isn't better. In Europe, there's a diesel engine available, which apparently gets around 60 mpg. I hope it eventually makes it to the states.

Prices range from $12 - $17,000 depending on features.
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From:vyus
Date:November 28th, 2007 01:00 am (UTC)
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i've already seen a couple tooting around Portland and environs.
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From:integreillumine
Date:November 28th, 2007 01:22 am (UTC)

man, I need a car or travel icon

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A have an uberliberal-environmentalist who's been researching these and a couple of other options and I think I remember her saying she was disappointed to find out the mileage isn't nearly as good on average as people say... only under optimal conditions, rarely met? But I could be mixing it up with another car she mentioned.

This is also funny, because I finally bought my first car and it's an '03 Taurus. A frickin beast, it is. But it's ubersafe, I can park it, and drive my stuff across the country with it. My next car's gonna be smaller.
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From:integreillumine
Date:November 28th, 2007 01:24 am (UTC)

Re: man, I need a car or travel icon

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Also, how tall are you? Her partner had size concerns - maybe it was the hybrids that didn't get reported return.
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From:nelliebelle
Date:November 28th, 2007 01:41 am (UTC)
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i wouldn't even get in that thing. i almost got rear-ended by an expedition today. good luck surviving that in one of those toy cars.
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From:olegvolk
Date:November 28th, 2007 01:53 am (UTC)
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Having compared my vehicle to even the Mini Cooper, I have to concur. Between minimal cargo capacity (not enough to fit my photo gear) and utter lack of safety...keep in mind that minor fender-benders shrugged off by larger vehicles would total this one, so the overall ownership cost might not be as low as expected.
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From:gentlemaitresse
Date:November 28th, 2007 01:54 am (UTC)
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As for safety, I figure it's gotta be at least as safe as my scooter, and you'd be more comfortable in inclement weather.

Then again, my scooter gets 100mpg.

But I can't haul a little trailer behind my scooter, either.

Darn these tradeoffs! Why can't anything be perfect?
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From:crasch
Date:November 28th, 2007 02:38 am (UTC)
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Agreed!
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From:waitingforoct
Date:November 28th, 2007 03:38 am (UTC)
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I have a co-worker who keeps threatening to buy one. Her family members in Germany have them and love them.
I keep telling her that size and safety-wise, they're no better than golf carts, and the way people run red lights around here, you'd be dead within a year (between myself and my husband, we've been rear-ended in the pick-up 3 times - we don't even bother getting the fender fixed anymore. In a smart car, that would be a total loss, I imagine)
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From:crasch
Date:November 28th, 2007 07:47 pm (UTC)
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Small cars dare less safe than many bigger cars it's true. However, it depends on what you're comparing it to. For me, this would be a "motorcycle-alternative", and compared to motorcycles, I think this would be much safer.
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From:mickasso
Date:November 28th, 2007 03:49 am (UTC)
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Everyone will expect you to sell Wii's, if you drive that around here. Could be dangerous during the holiday season.

O_o
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From:crasch
Date:November 28th, 2007 05:26 am (UTC)
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Do Wii salespeople drive Wii's?
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From:hawver
Date:November 28th, 2007 04:05 am (UTC)
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That car looks like a SUV escape pod. Personally I'd buy a used civic hatch for half the money.
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From:ch
Date:November 28th, 2007 04:11 am (UTC)
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i had written them off as too whimpy, but if i can swap in 180bhp motor in (and get it smogged, $#(@#! through carb for street legal use) then i'm game again. that sounds like good fun to me.

i still wouldn't want to get in a wreck in one versus, say, my durango (which is not all that big as far as trucks go).

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From:crasch
Date:November 28th, 2007 05:25 am (UTC)
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Thanks!
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From:girlvinyl
Date:November 28th, 2007 04:40 am (UTC)
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Seems dangerous unless you can commit to keeping on surface streets only, at reasonably slow speeds.

My bf previously had a Mini Cooper and that thing was incredibly safe. Safer test ratings than many SUVs and pickups, so small doesn't always mean sacrificing safety. [or alliteration]
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From:crasch
Date:November 28th, 2007 05:25 am (UTC)
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Thanks!
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From:portia
Date:November 28th, 2007 04:44 am (UTC)
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If one of your main reasons for wanting one is for ease of parking, wouldn't you then defeat that purpose by hauling a trailer around?
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From:crasch
Date:November 28th, 2007 05:14 am (UTC)
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If I planned to have the trailer hooked up all the time, yes.
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