June 2, 2012

At the Smart Car Café...

Untitled

... let's get small.

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77 comments:

Rumpletweezer said...

Why do so many things labeled "smart" turn out to be so dumb.

David said...

Shopping?

Ann Althouse said...

I think it's a great car. I was very impressed by the interior and how comfortable I felt in the space.

I do think it makes a man look... maybe, possibly... silly. Especially a large man.

But the interior and exterior looked great. Elegant and cute. Great gas mileage. Perfect for hopping around town.

Ann Althouse said...

We were in the Mercedes Benz showroom to look at something else, and I wanted to check out how that little thing felt.

Paddy O said...

Good urban car, I think.

traditionalguy said...

A trophy car being driven by a trophy wife. Life's good!

edutcher said...

You look a little skeptical in the first shot, Madame.

The Blonde tends to view something that small as a disaster waiting to happen - once you get hit by something bigger, they can pack you off to the hospital in it.

Ann Althouse said...

We were in the Mercedes Benz showroom to look at something else, and I wanted to check out how that little thing felt.

You may want to rephrase that...

lewsar said...

this class of car makes a lot of sense in heavily populated areas. new york city, london, and most asian cities are all perfect environments of these little commuter cars.

but i also see them on the freeways here in colorado, where to me they make absolutely no sense whatsoever. they are both small and quiet so they are very hard to see, yet they have no performance advantage to get them out of trouble.

ndspinelli said...

They're all over the place in Rome. However, it's all scooters, small cars etc. You are outgunned here in the US. The biggest problem is that the pickups/suv's are at the perfect height to kill or cripple you. Only worked one car crash involving Smart car..there just aren't many. It was a big pickup v Smart Car. The plaintiff had significant injuries and it wasn't a big impact..30-35mph. If I were in Europe I would buy one. If I had to drive one in the US, I would be a defensive driver ala motorcycle drivers.

End of speech. It is well intended. However, we all know the road to hell is paved w/ good intentions.

ndspinelli said...

Mecedes Benz! That Amazon 7% adds up. Now, I forget what you said on Blogginheads. What is 7% of $100..$1000?

Palladian said...

They are TERRIFYING on the highway, but a great choice for around town, unless you have to haul anything significant.

Synova said...

Don't do it!

Please!

It's like men wearing shorts!

Chip Ahoy said...

Oh no, Dear, your shoe is a much smaller size, plus the skates are inline now.

Kelly from Georgia said...

Those cars make me very sad. I don't see many in rural Georgia but when I do, it's always an older lady. I wonder if they have anyone that loves them. Is there no one in their lives to tell them that they are more valuable than a couple of dollars saved in gas?

I want my mama driving a big Lincoln Town Car. Or an Excursion.

Bob R said...

What were they asking for it? I drive my car (a 1994 Taurus with 64,000 miles on it) very little. We use my wife's car for any long trips/highway driving. So a small car like that would work well for me. I'd rather have something electric - tooling around town the instantaneous torque would be fun and the lack of power isn't a drawback. Of course, I'll probably just go with the cheapest option and drive the Taurus until it or I dies.

Kelly from Georgia said...

Ndspinelli-

Motorcycles are different. I don't ride a motorcycle to save money on gas. There is a thrill to riding a bike. Wind in the hair and all that.

I know dead is dead but I'd rather die doing 120 on a motorcycle than die in one of those cars because I thought I'd save a couple of bucks in gas.

Kelly

madAsHell said...

Go for the SL550!

Color me envious!!

Hey!! I can read the very first CAPCHA!

dbp said...

I suppose it is easy to find a place to park it. Otherwise, a Honda fit gets about the same mileage, costs about the same and has room for twice as many people--or cargo.

The same would be true for most subcompact hatchbacks. I think Althouse would look great in the FIAT 500 when it comes to funky-looking little cars.

heyboom said...

The husband of one of my wife's co-workers was a salesman for the Smart Car here in Southern California. Until it went out of business. Even here in La-La Land, there isn't a big enough market to support the concept. On a side note, I've also only seen one Volt ever here locally. The car of choice is the Prius.

Meade said...

We were there because I was interested in THIS but drove home realizing I'm perfectly satisfied with what I already have.

wyo sis said...

I love your yellow purse! Or do they call it a handbag in Wisconsin?
Anyway, I like the idea of a small car to tool around in, but in rural Wyoming we have potholes bigger than that thing. SUV or crew cab for me.

Synova said...

"Those cars make me very sad. I don't see many in rural Georgia but when I do, it's always an older lady. I wonder if they have anyone that loves them. Is there no one in their lives to tell them that they are more valuable than a couple of dollars saved in gas?"

I don't think it's the gas, is it? The car costs enough that you could buy a whole lot of gas.

I think the "little old lady" thing is more about visibility and not wanting to have a trauma every you back out of your spot at Walmart.

I sympathize. I wouldn't want to try to park a lincoln towncar any more than I'd want to try to park one of those enormous pick-up trucks everyone has.

Larry J said...

I read a Consumer Reports review of the Smart car a year or so ago. They weren't impressed. It's mileage really isn't all that great for such a little car, it rode poorly and it's overpriced. You'd get as good or better mileage out of a Toyota Corolla, it's more car for the money, and it costs thousands less than a Smart car. If you visit a Toyota dealer, see if they have one of those Scion IQs. They're similar to a smart car and not nearly so damned ugly. IIRC, they cost less, too.

edutcher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
edutcher said...

Kelly from Georgia said...

Those cars make me very sad. I don't see many in rural Georgia but when I do, it's always an older lady. I wonder if they have anyone that loves them. Is there no one in their lives to tell them that they are more valuable than a couple of dollars saved in gas?

I want my mama driving a big Lincoln Town Car. Or an Excursion.


My sister flew in to see my mother, who was in a nursing home, and needed to rent a car and mentioned to the girl at the counter she'd need something big enough to hold a wheelchair.

All of the businessmen just about cried when she was told, "I think we'll let you have the Town Car".

Meade said...

We were there because I was interested in THIS

For pikers only.

We were looking at new cars (mine was about to expire) and The Blonde was approached by the salesman asking if she wanted an SUV.

She said she only liked the black one in the corner. The Porsche, of course - $90,000.

but drove home realizing I'm perfectly satisfied with what I already have.

Nicely put.

For this, you don't sleep on the couch.

Charlie Eklund said...

The Sprinter is nice, but it sort of looks like something that would show up in your driveway after you called a plumber in Germany.

nina said...

We rent the Smart-for-two each year in June and Ed likes it almost as much as I do. And he's 6'4". Fact is, it's a tall person's car.

I like the way it shuts down when you're idling at a stop light. And I super like the way you can switch from Automatic to manual.

Ed's complaint -- the price and the mileage. It's really not exceptional there. Many other small cars deliver equally well on the miles/per/gallon and his '93 Geo at home is even better there.

I think it stays solid on highways -- no complaints on even the brisk European speed roads.

caplight45 said...

Hot blond, cute car, convertible...don't let her do it Meade. Nip-it-in-the-bud.

Marcus Carman said...

Ann Oh Ann! Please tell me you're not buying that piece of junk!

ndspinelli said...

Kelly From Georgia, I understand the attraction for motorcycles. I'm a libertarian so I have no problem w/ what anyone drives. The only point I was making was the cyclists just need to be hyper defensive driving and a Smart Car requires that also. And I agree, a cycle is much more fun and for many worth the risk. Wear a helmet!! They're not mandatory in Wi. Worked too many car v cycle accident where the cyclist was not @ fault but the cyclist had no helmet and sustained severe brain injuries.

The Crack Emcee said...

I was a car salesman in a previous stage of my life and "elegant and cute" are not words to be considered when thinking about buying a car.

I drove a Smart car in Yurp and was decidedly unimpressed. No power for climbing hills, or even inclines, and clearly a death trap in an accident. (And I saw lots of horrible accidents over there.)

Glenn's posted a glowing review of the new Kia Rio. If you're in the market, I suggest you check it out:

Ribbing you and Meade wouldn't be nearly as much fun if you were dead - I'd still do it ("The dumb bitch died in a Smart car!") but it just wouldn't be the same,...

Patrick said...

Those Smart cars take about 15 minutes to get up to 60 mph. My wfie and I inadvertantly rented one while in San Francisco. We went into Muir Woods and some of the surrounding area. I never felt comfortable in it, never felt safe. Not quick enough in the City, not strong enough in the countryside. We got a convertible though, and my wife thought it was cute. So we had that.

Ann Althouse said...

"Mecedes Benz! That Amazon 7% adds up. Now, I forget what you said on Blogginheads. What is 7% of $100..$1000?"

Yes, so please buy some stuff for yourselves and help me out. Remember, Meade and I need to do some road trips for your entertainment, and it's a big deal to do that customized Sprinter to suit the sensitivities of an old lady professor-blogger.

traditionalguy said...

The whole fad of 500 sq ft houses and ity bitty smart cars is part of the war on babies and children, which are excluded from that life. That may be attractive to Gays and to singles who want to show off, but it's a useless way to live for more than a few years.

The Crack Emcee said...

Meade and I need to do some road trips for your entertainment,...

Oh, MAN, you're just asking for it,...LOL!

wyo sis said...

Just please don't get one of those road locomotives we see chugging around Yellowstone. If you must take a McMansion on the road to be comfortable stay home.

Kelly from Georgia said...

ndspinelli said...
Kelly From Georgia, Wear a helmet!! They're not mandatory in Wi. Worked too many car v cycle accident where the cyclist was not @ fault but the cyclist had no helmet and sustained severe brain injuries.


When I first started riding about three years ago, I zipped over to SC every chance I got and as I crossed the state line, I was removing my helmet. I absolutely love everything about riding without a helmet.

Last summer I totaled my bike in NC and I'm ever so glad I was wearing a helmet. I've worn one ever since (except for a brief 25 mile ride last fall along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon). Helmets just make sense for me.

Kelly from Georgia said...

Synova-
I just assumed that the ONLY reason someone would get one of these cars was for gas mileage/environmental reasons. I had no idea they were expensive!

My bad.

Kelly

Mark said...

I always pictured you as more of a Lotus Elise girl myself.

Or at least a Honda S2000.

Lem said...

That thing isn't safe professor.

I refuse to call it a car.

Golf Cart.. more like it.

Jaske said...

Try the new Fiat 500 if you're looking for a compact car, I was impressed with the one I test drove.

P.J. liked it too.
http://www.caranddriver.com/features/pj-orourke-and-the-2012-fiat-500-feature

Erika said...

Goodness, please be careful in that little thing. I hate seeing them out on the road when I'm driving my Suburban. I am well aware of my responsibility in piloting almost three tons of steel and glass and I drive very carefully, but if something went wrong then your head would pretty much be at the level of my grill. During the summer when we're towing the trailer we see those little cars weaving in and out and up and down steep grades in the Texas hill country surrounded by rigs like ours and they scare me to death.

Titus said...

You look really really old in that pic.

No more Pics May.

Meade said...

titus talking to himself again.

(as if it's really even titus.)

Ann Althouse said...

As far as safety, it's got 4 airbags per person, but I don't know.

I like small, because I feel more in control of it and more like it's an extension of my body. Which is why I love the Audi TT... one reason I love it. There are many reasons to love it. So we obviously don't need another small car.

Our other car right now is a Honda CRV, which is a compact SUV, which is what we take when we want to carry more stuff or have any extra passengers. We use it with our bikes, skis, etc. I think it's perfectly fine, and I don't what a big old customized Sprinter with wood floors and cabinets and that inside-of-a-boat look. It's too much to drag along with you, and I'd be afraid to drive it if I ever had too.

But we had a fantasy of being more like Clarence Thomas and his wife, traveling about.

But the CRV makes more sense to me.

Meade said...

Besides, profesora... it's time to fly...
on bikes!

Astro said...

Smart Car? By name maybe, but would it have passed the 'Constitution Made Easy Test'? I think not.

fleetusa said...

Smart car is nice for around town and short trips. I'm not sure it would be a cruising car.

I have a Prius and love it. Only issue is it can go 80 but getting it up to 80 takes longer than standard cars...i.e. poor at rapid acceleration.

Love to drive it around with My City Was Gone playing!

Big Mike said...

If you're going to look at small cars you might check out the Fiat Abarth (at the local Dodge-Chrysler-Jeef dealer) Mini Cooper S.

Big Mike said...

and the Mini Cooper S.

OldGrouchyCranky said...

Personally, a Mini Cooper seems to be a better buy, but then that's my opinion. Still, with a Mini Cooper you could pretend to be Charlize Theron and Meade could be a tall version of Mark Wahlberg!

ErnieG said...

They called it Smart Car because Dumbass Deathtrap didn't do well in the focus group testing.

Meade said...

OldGrouchyCranky said...
"Personally, a Mini Cooper seems to be a better buy, but then that's my opinion. Still, with a Mini Cooper you could pretend to be Charlize Theron and Meade could be a tall version of Mark Wahlberg!"

Ah but we do already! Just without the Mini.

jeff said...

My aunt has one, as does my cousin. Nice little car, it gets just slightly better gas mileage than my 1990 Ford Escort did. Which had 4 doors and a trunk.

edutcher said...

Ann Althouse said...

Remember, Meade and I need to do some road trips for your entertainment, and it's a big deal to do that customized Sprinter to suit the sensitivities of an old lady professor-blogger.

Yes, we haven't had a road trip in forever. If they'd allowed Martin Milner to have a female buddy, you guys could do a latter-day Route 66.

But, trust me, Madame, you are not an old lady.

Several people at this establishment might be, but you're not one of them.

Lady, yes; old, never.

caseym54 said...

My Ford Escape Hybrid gets better mileage in L.A. Traffic that a Smart Car does. Even going by EPA numbers it's 34 vs 32 or some such. Highway may be a different matter, but I wouldn't dare take such a death trap as the Smart Car out where Real cars were driving fast.

Also, searc YouTube for "Smaercar vs Mercedes".

caseym54 said...

Here's the link. This was part of comparing several vendors tiny car to their midsize in crash tests. The Mercedes C versus Smart Car is probably the most uneven matchup, but just the same it does tell a story: Don't get hit in a Smart Car.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sKSPxQjPOm0

wyo sis said...

edutcher
Ann and I are the same age and I couldn't agree more. Old---never!

caseym54 said...

Odd, a comment "posted" but didn't.

Anyway, there is not much point to a Smart Car in heavy city driving since almost any hybrid, including my Ford Escape Hybrid offers more room AND better city mileage. The Escape has about 2MPG better in city EPA rating, and I'm pretty sure the 31-32 MPG I get in severe L.A. stop&go is better than what the Smart Car gets with it's engine idling a lot of the time.

Sure, on the highway the Smart Car gets much better numbers, but it sure does look small and those other big cars sure do look fast.

edutcher said...

wyo sis said...

edutcher
Ann and I are the same age and I couldn't agree more. Old---never!


sis, that quality is what makes the blog interesting.

Freeman Hunt said...

Not enough mass. Death trap.

Methadras said...

If you want in town driving, then get an electric vehicle. Otherwise, if you want gas savings, then a prius is probably your better bet.

The Crack Emcee said...

The Mini Cooper is a killer on the spine. I'm amazed so few mention that. But then, people today are so insane when it comes to "cute," dying, basically, for the equivalent of a smiley face button.

A bunch of fucking immature morons, I tell ya - that's all they are.

Hardly a true adult in the bunch.

ANYWAY - I jotted down some scenarios that Ann & Meade might want to look into for our entertainment purposes. At least they're a few that would make me smile (and you know how hard THAT is,...) Check 'em out - YMMV - but, whatever you do, start demanding these two provide REAL VALUE for your dollars:

Personally, I ain't buying shit until they start offering porno,...

The Crack Emcee said...

Methadras,

if you want gas savings, then a prius is probably your better bet.

Another Prius suggestion? You fucking liberal scum/Pod People. Not one American in the group. As that old country song says:

"I've got to find a better class of losers,..."

Jennifer said...

Those things are great for parking here in Europe. Lots of places have tiny little smart car parking spots where no regular space would fit. And parallel parking looks like a breeze!

As for safety, they really do look like death traps. But, I've only seen one accident with a smart car. It was just a fender bender with a regular sedan type car. The sedan's front end was crumpled in and the smart car's front end barely looked touched. I don't know if that was luck of the draw - a collision in the exact right spot on each car...? - or if they have physics and engineering on their side. I do know that - short of armoring ourselves up in equally massive beasts - most of us in any small to regular sized car don't stand a chance against the huge pickups and SUVs. Are smart cars worse off than the rest of us in reality? I have no idea.

Scott said...

I adore my MINI (Cooper S convertible, 2005), it is a blast to drive and has been (aside from an odd software bug in its first few months) almost entirely trouble-free. If you want a fun drive, there is nothing out there to beat it....

As for the Smart Car, it is topheavy (and not in the good, va-voom, way), a deathtrap in a crash, and has no descernible pickup or manuverability. I am not a big FIAT fan (FIAT and MINI have this Hatfield/McCoy thing going on...), but if you don't want a MINI, get the FIAT...

And if you are travelling...come to KC!

MrsIke said...

One word:snowstorm. These little cars are TINY and would get stuck in the smallest amount of snow. Very impractical for the type of climate we have in WI.

Freeman Hunt said...

Death trap.

It does fine on crash tests hitting a fixed barrier, but if it's hit by another car, no good.

Daniel Fielding said...

Ann- dont get that 'Smart Car". They are death traps, nothing more. Saw one in Ann Arbor, on Huron, right in front of where the Frieze Bldg used ti be( before the tore it down ), and there was a Smart Car, totally destroyed in a collision. The car was crumpled up like it had been made out of paper, and I heard that the driver was critically injured.

Ann Althouse said...

"I adore my MINI (Cooper S convertible, 2005), it is a blast to drive and has been (aside from an odd software bug in its first few months) almost entirely trouble-free. If you want a fun drive, there is nothing out there to beat it...."

I would have considered it back when I got the Audi TT, but there was no dealer in Madison at the time, and I want my dealer in town.

Now that I have the TT, it's the small car I love.

It's great in the snow and ice, by the way. Rock solid. By far, the best car on ice I've ever driven.

X said...

a whole 38 mpg? mind boggling.

Aridog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aridog said...

No sense kidding anyone, I am old. Even my darling child says, when disagreeing with one of my opinions, she excuses herself with: " ... but Dad you're like a million years old."

My response is always the same: "Damn right and I got there by not be stupid or foolish, repeatedly."

The child is smart enough to take my advice when she wanted a smaller 2 door with all wheel drive and some power ... I said Audi TT. She's on her third one as we speak. "Smaller" is not "tiny" ... though to my old frame, "cramped" might be apt.

I consider the Smart Car, the Mini-cooper, et al, to be in the class of foolish and stupid, a death wish waiting fulfillment.

The USA is NOT Europe, except maybe Boston. Our roads can handle large vehicles, and that includes giant OTR trucks. Our fuel is half their cost. Do you have any idea of what a "Smart Car" would look like to a driver of a Peterbuilt or old style (still made) K-Wopper? I've driven them and I can tell you ... it would look like nothing at all because you'd never see the silly thing. Definitely not something to drive in the previously so called "Monfort Lane."

Being old, I figure I can drive whatever I want, and still keep it reasonable. I'll define "reasonable" ... it is my vehicle, right?

Fact is I liked Meade's object of curiosity and will look in to them. I have big dogs and need a vehicle with decent ground clearance, large easily accessible flat floor area ... currently a Chevy Mini-Van, LT version (dogs can watch DVD's) with leather seats (don't hold dog hair at all)... with all rear seats removed, a dog crate or two, plus still an area large enough for two 90 lb dogs lying down. Call me "soccer mom"...like I care. Only company the made a mini-van that meets my needs was Hyundai, and they quit after 2009 ... so the MB is of interest. All other "mini-vans" today are automobile body pans with enlarged box tops. Drive through farm fields? Not much.

When I go west to Montana and Wyoming, I fly out and rent an SUV with real 4WD. Old fire trails are not kind to "cars" and what not.

Rusty said...

You know Ann, one of those little "smart cars." fit perfectly underneith a semi truck. Sans windscreen seat back, and of course the drivers head. They could always bury you in it.
In a small car there is no such thing as a small acccident.
Get a Hummer.
You can afford it.

Jennifer said...

Freeman - I guess that last paragraph explains what I saw in the low speed fender bender.

They make a lot of sense here in Germany. For one thing, when you're going 120 mph+, I don't think many cars are really "safe" enough to protect you. Also, gas is incredibly expensive here and parking is often difficult. But, I'm not really sure why they're even bothering to market them in America.

Jennifer said...

Perhaps some of the Mercedes and BMW boats are "safe" on the autobahn. But, I've seen too many smoking hulls of indistinguishable cars AND semi trucks here to really think anything is all that safe at those speeds...

Clint Moore said...

Small cars are truly gaining more appeal at present. And perhaps it’s because they’re a practical vehicle choice. Smaller cars are easier to maneuver and they need less parking space. But aside from their beautiful exterior and interior, functionality and comfort aren’t overlooked. Just like gadgets, cars are becoming smaller and smaller! Haha

Clint Moore