Purchased the smart as my second car but loved it too much and I drive it daily. You should check out more stories about ownership over the the Smart Car of America Forums http://www.smartcarofamerica.com/forums
the problem with smart cars is they're too much fun to drive. my 3/4 ton 4X4 has developed an intake manifold leak (green liquid) as she doesn't get driven enough any more. my xk-e has a dead battery as she doesn't get driven enough, either. to add insult to injury, the smart parks next to the e-type and doesn't want to be driven in the rain anymore(like the jaguar). two prima donnas
I got my smart car just because it is cute and fun to drive. I also have an 09 Camry hybrid I just got that will get taken on any long trips for the comfort. Love the both of them but the smart is just a cute little car.
I have my smart exactly 1 year now... 10,750 miles on it... It is most definitely my daily-driver! I own an Audi and I have access to a Civic (family member's car) and the only times I do NOT drive my Smart is when I need to carry something that is too big (I haven't really even found too much of that...I even just picked up a 32" LCD TV for a friend the other day - made it fit in my ForTwo!!! My girlfriend lives in New York City - my Smart is the ONLY CAR that I will take into NYC!
The gas mileage is a plus, but in the city, hands-down it is the PARKING and manuverability that makes this car a joy!
(I would say that the only 2 negatives I can think of is the fact that my seat has no height-adjustment -wish it could go a tad lower - and large bumps go right up your spine, making it less than perfect for LONG drives. But, it hasn't stopped me from doing so.
I haven't bought a SmartCar yet, but I was test-driving a used '08 Cabriolet with 20K. Transmission was very bad; engine power cut out completely between each gear change. I thought I'd get whiplash just getting into fourth. Drove it around for nearly an hour and problem still existed. Needless to say, I didn't buy it, but I am wondering if anyone else has an older Smart that has developed transmission troubles. Could it be the car was driven hard and put away damaged? Twenty thousand is a lot of miles for a year-old car.
Lisa, have you driven a brand new smart for comparison? The shifting of the auto-manual transmission takes getting used to. It is not a typical automatic transmission.
Think of it as driving a standard transmission, except that the "foot off the gas, depress clutch, change gear, foot back on the gas, release clutch" procedure is handled automatically.
(The auto-clutch will disengage the engine to shift, so what you are describing sounds "normal" to me.)
That being said: Our smartcenter tech indicated to me yesterday that there will be a software update for all 08 smarts in the near future which includes an update of the transmission (software) and may change the shifting behavior some.
Lisa, I drive an '08, though it hasn't many miles on it yet. But I do remember being concerned at what I perceived to be lurching. I also saw a grumping notation in Consumer Reports on the Smart transmission. That told me immediately that they'd only driven the Smart briefly and didn't know how to drive the car. Like the first few times one drives a manual shift without knowing how to balance the clutch and gas pedals. When I first drove my Smart, I put my foot on the accelerator and left it there (like a person does with an automatic transmission), so when it shifted, it lurched because I had my foot on the gas while it was trying to change gears. Once I learned to slightly lift my pressure off the gas pedal at appropriate moments the lurch disappeared. It is so slight a lifting of pressure that I don't even realize I'm doing it. I don't know what problems that used Smart may have had, but part of it could have been that no one told you how to drive it. It truly is not an automatic transmission as we know it. If you've never driven a shift car, you need to learn the feel of gears shifting and you and the car get into synch. It's actually an easy skill, quick to master.
Yes, I would agree... this actually sounds quite normal if you have not gotten used to driving the Smart...
As TOES stated, this car does NOT have an "Automatic" transmission (torque converter + transmission)... It has what they call an "automated manual transmission." Technologically speaking, it has a MANUAL transmission (Clutch + transmission) that is controlled by electronics and hydraulics for the driver.
As with any Manual transmission, if you do not let power off the engine, while accelerating, you will lurch forward when you engage the clutch (removing power from the wheels) and lurch backwards when power is returned to the wheels (releasing the clutch).
It takes a short amount of getting used to - you learn to "roll off" the gas just before it shifts and then smoothly apply gas one shifting has occurred.
Driving the car in manual mode can actually help with the "timing" of it all, as you are in control of the shifting.
I will say, if you're feeling lazy, or in a rush... it does not make for a smooth ride. But if you master it, it is not all bad.