We have 2 Smart Cars. We get 35-40 MPG. I think this is miserable for a car like this. We trade houses with people in Europe. Recently we had a 4 passenger Octavia(VW) mid size diesel car. Mileage exceeded 50 MPG and the car was twice the size of our Smarts. Something is very wrong. A car this size should get 60 MPG plus if well designed. They are fun but....
You are comparing apples to oranges. or more exactly, diesel to gas, Ruropean to US. European cars are not as stringent with emissions like the good old US of A. tighter emissions cut down massivly on mpg's Also take a look at engine sizes, HP rating on Diesels compared to gas motors, etc. I have seen full sized American cars get 30MPG so just because a car is small doesn't mean it will get better milage. My Gold Wing motorcycle only got 35MPG...
You live in Indiana..... which last time i checked is still a state with a rather cold climate during the winter.... and like just about every state where temperatures quite frequently drop below freezing.... i'm pretty sure stuff is mixed into the gas, be it to reduce chances of the fuel freezing if there happens to be water in it, or to prevent something else from happening due to the cold weather (Kinda like how Diesel is treated during the winter to prevent it from gelling). With this, comes a hit to fuel mileage during the winter months as well. During the summer, even with quite frequent AC use, i'd get mid-40's with my engine completely stock. Over the winter i got a cold-air intake for it, which is supposed to increase mileage by a slight amount... but right now i'm getting right around 40, and i live in eastern Pennsylvania, which if you've heard has been going through the roughest winter in years just over these past few weeks.
And as it's been pointed out.... Diesel is completely different from gas, just as US cars perform completely different from European cars. And it's not only the horsepower that's different on diesel engines. They also put out a lot more torque than a gas engine at lower speeds, which is why they're used almost exclusively for towing or for large, heavy vehicles.
I concur with Ryan. I also live in Indiana (Indy) and have kept rigorous track of gas mileage since March, 2009 when I drove my goKar off the lot. Initially I was amazed at 38 MPG city driving, almost 45 MPG highway. As fall came, now winter, mileage slowly decreased and last time I filled up, calculations show I was getting only 33 MPG city driving. I felt horrible, but I've always known mileage decreases during cold weather for every internal combustion engine - just the nature of he beast. Still, 5 MPG is a lot. I'm getting close to the first service interval which may have something to do with the poorer mileage (BTW, I will ask my dealer if it might be worth it - in terms of increased mileage - to perform the service 2,500 miles sooner...any thoughts, suggestions?)
But, the important thing is that all bad feelings disappeared when I saw a GM TV ad boasting GM's gas mileage - 33 MPG highway. I know their care was bigger with a bigger engine, etc. but still, I felt a lot better.
Last I heard the Prius is Gas Only. It does not get plugged in. And in Europe there are many 5 passenger mid size cars that equal the Smart for mileage.
We do not have Alcohol added to our gas where I live. And in fact the European Environmental Rules while not identical are as stringent as they are here.
You are right I am comparing apples to oranges. This is a 2 passenger light weight mini car. And I am comparing it to 5 passenger mid sized cars that get equal or better mileage.
Yes, apples and oranges. There are many European models, especially diesels, that kill US equivalents in mileage due to emissions requirements and additional weight. There are few diesels available in the US because of the EPA and the ones that are available here can't get the mileage of the Euro models. One of these days, perhaps the US will become clean diesel friendly and we'll use less foreign oil, but that probably won't happen any time soon.
Oh well, I'm happy with my average over the past 25,000 plus miles. It includes bad winter mileage, good spring/fall mileage, highway, city, etc.
Jim, are you really sure your mile per gallon calculations from Europe are that accurate? I've seen people make very wide mpg claims about just the smart here in the US. A couple of tanks of fuel in liters per kilometer or whatever may not really give an accurate picture, just ask someone who has used fuelly for many miles and kept track more accurately.
I owned a 1980 VW Dasher Diesel for 12 years. It delivered 45 - 48 MPG until the day I drove it to the scrap yard. I was repairing the body in hopes of getting a few more years out of it, but two pickup trucks collided in front of me while I was at a stop sign and they clobbered my Dasher. I was very sad to say goodbye to that car. As others have said, Diesel is a different platform and typically does get better mileage. I am considering a Jetta TDI when I replace a Passat that we own.
Although it is apples and oranges, I believe my Smart is 71 horsepower and my Dasher was 52. I believe the US version of the Smart engine is also 10 HP larger than the European counterpart...as well as being a longer vehicle. We Americans tend to like cars with some get up and go. If we were willing to accept lower acceleration, we'd probably get 5, 10 or more MPG out of a car this size.
So... for a very low initial investment, we get the best gas MPG (no batteries and therefore the lowest carbon footprint) and very fun car to drive. What other car would result in so many fun conversations with compete strangers. But the car has to fit your personality. We have two and we love them.
There is no perfect car. It is all about preference and personal priorities. We can only hope that our collective preferences evolve and guide the automotive industry to deliver ever-increasing fuel economy and lower overall environmental impact over time.
I agree. A man asked me how many miles per gallon I get, and I told him I'm averaging about 40mpg, (which I thought he would think was great), but instead he asked "What's wrong with it"? Evans, (Mighty Mouse)
Evans: There's nothing wrong with averaging 40mpg. absolutely nothing. People have way too wild of an imagination. They see something smaller than a Mini and think it gets outrageous gas mileage.... like 80mpg..... but if you ask me these people have zero logic.
Jim Parsons: It's not alcohol that's added to the fuel. There's a completely different mixture that's used between warmer months and colder months. It's not a "Where you live" situation. it's a governmental regulation situation. It has to do with atmospheric pressure and fuel evaporation. Here's a link to a nice explanation between winter and summer blends of gasoline.
And again.... you're comparing a US model gasoline powered car to a European diesel powered car. There's a difference, not only in the environmental rules, but in the fuel. Look at the video's from Top Gear. There was one car in particular they reviewed.... the Koenigsegg CCX.
"806 brake horsepower... and that's on that limp-wristed fairly liquid the American's call petrol. If you run this on the more explosive jungle juice we have here in Europe, you'll be getting 850 brake horsepower. Oh, and i'll give you a little tip..... if you tune this to run on environmentally friendly bio-fuel... you'll be getting 900 brake horsepower."
Think that pretty much says it..... better gasoline in Europe....... more power with Diesel...
Oh, and the Skoda Octavia you mentioned.... from what i've found it has a dry weight of 1365kg (which i'm assuming is with an empty gas tank and everything), which roughly translates into right around 3,000lbs. The smart has a 1,808lb curb weight. So you figure there'd be only about a 1,200lb difference.... with the Skoda using a much more powerful diesel engine compared to a gasoline engine? I think it's understandable. For the Smart to be as small as it is, it's weight is quite up there.
I've been driving my 2008 Smart in Texas, Missouri, Kansas and Colorado so far, and most of my mileage was made in the Ozarks in all weather, from stifling hot to below freezing temps. I always use 91 octane, as suggested. My lowest mpg is around 34 mpg when I'm driving crazy through the hills late for work. My highest so far was in Colorado (on a tank I bought in Colorado Springs) at 54 mpg. I haven't yet tried driving under 65 for prolonged highway driving, so I may not know what my best could be. Driving just under 65 has made a real upward difference in my other vehicles. I frequently get around 40-43 mpg, mostly hilly around-town driving. I don't have a real problem with this. I wonder how long it would take to amortize the cost of a $23,000+ car getting 60 mpg (especially if it is being financed) as opposed to the $15,000 after taxes I paid for the Smart getting 40 mpg.
Why has NO ONE seen the obvious fault that Jim is overlooking? a US gallon is SMALLER than a European gallon...
so 1 US gallon is .832674184629 Imperial gallons
and 1 IMP gallon is 1.2 US gallons
I get 43mpg here in the US and that would be 51.6mpg in Europe using the same fuel same car!
Now if the fuel were better.. as in the higher octane rating they have in EU... well then the mpg would be even higher.. Oh wait if the regulations there are lesser in the catalytic department AND the cars weigh less due to different bumper laws..... even better MPGS!
In short you cannot compare even the same car US Vs. EU due to the many factors that vary.