I have almost always driven a standard vehicle. I am a little nervous about the paddle shifters. Any suggestions. And do you get better gas milage while using them or the automatic way. I haven't received my smart yet. Can't wait!!!

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Comment by Gary Bryers on August 26, 2008 at 8:47pm
Having driven the smart, mostly in manual, but occasionally in auto, the only thing I noticed different is that auto decides for you (for the most part) when to shift. But you can smooth the transition in both modes by backing off the gas a little bit (not all the way), then re-applying as the new gear takes hold - similar, but to a lesser extent, than with a "real" manual transmission. Doing that reduces the rocking-horse effect.
As to efficiency, I have no doubt that the full-auto mode will be more efficient for those that aren't real familiar with manual transmissions (and even some of the others) due to the tendency to shift at lower speeds than a manual shifter would do, but if you want any performance (speed/acceleration) out of it, you are better off in manual mode. After a while, either way (unless you insist on playing your stereo loud enough for the entire neighborhood), you'll learn when to shift...
Comment by Tammy Rondinaro on August 25, 2008 at 6:45pm
Hey Charlotte! I agree with everyone, especially George. The automatic shifting can be a little scary when it balks while changing gears at an intersection with a Mack truck coming through! I've had "Annie" for 9 days....and only TODAY did I use both methods. And I think both methods were intended to be used! I've noticed in automatic....I'll reached 50 mph and then have to brake to 20 mph. As I step on the accelerator, it "sounds" like it needs to be dropped down to a lower gear. It almost rattles...but is most definitely in need of help. That when (TODAY) I finally pushed it over to manual. The "5" showed...so I hit the left paddle and it dropped to 4th. I hit the paddle again and 3rd showed and the car surged forward...no more sounding like it was starving for gas or power. I also noticed in a turn the paddles were impossible to reach/find....so I popped the gear shift. It was easier than I thought. I must admit I've tried to put my left foot through the floor board more than once........... :)
Comment by George Bastuba on August 22, 2008 at 7:21pm
Hi Charlotte.

I have to go against the grain here and say that I am getting better mileage when I leave the car in automatic mode. In auto mode, the smart shifts very early, at very low revs, and I think that is the key to the most economic mode of driving.

That being said, I like driving in manual mode, as I can control when the car shifts gears. For example, if I am driving in traffic, I keep it in manual, so I can downshift quickly for a quick boost of speed. Or, if I am making a left turn in front of some oncoming traffic, I may want to let it wind out in first gear to complete the turn, rather than have the car pause and shift as traffic is bearing down on me.

I opted to go without the paddle shifters and I have to say I don't miss them. I have owned various manual transmission cars for a combined total of about 16 years, so letting my right hand "rest" on the shifter just feels natural to me.

It takes a little practice, though, and I imagine it might be the same with the paddle shifters: With a regular manual, you ease of the gas as you press in the clutch, then shift the gears, then ease back on the accelerator as you ease the clutch back out. however, in the smart I get the best and smoothest shifts by pushing the shift forward and waiting a split-second until I feel the clutch disengage before easing off the accelerator. Then I ease back on the gas as the computer engages the clutch again. If I am driving alone and feel like letting the smart run a little, I will just keep the accelerator steady and push the shifter; I feel a nice little lurch when the new gear is engaged.

I'm sure everyone has their favorite method or secret to good shifting. Perhaps other people will offer their best methods!

Good luck with your new smart. I hope you'll get a lot of enjoyment out of it!
Comment by toes on August 22, 2008 at 6:48pm
My other cars all have been manual transmissions (mountain driving).
I think key is not to be afraid to shift down when needed (the computer actually prevents downshifting when revs would be too high and does automatically upshift, if you "forget to" in manual mode). So, as kory said: It's "cake".

I love the auto-manual function in the city, switch into manual mode when going up to the mountains or when I want to keep it in gear longer to accelerate faster.

At first I was letting up on the gas for shifts in both modes, but I have found that it is best to just stay on the accelerator. The computer works it all out.

I hit 1,000 miles today and the last two tanks were 46 and 40.5 mpg (mixed driving, the lesser being high speed (up to 85) on the highway and up and down the mountains. The first tank was very disappointing (34 mpg), but since then it has consistently gotten better, up to the 46 max, and I am not even particularly trying to save gas. Just enjoying it.
Comment by smartKory on August 22, 2008 at 5:36pm
Paddle shifters are cake...you'll adjust in no time. I actually prefer the stick shift and use that instead. You'll be familiar with the lack of clutch about five minutes into your test drive. You'll love it, I'm sure; I know I do!
Comment by Eric on August 22, 2008 at 4:22pm
I use either method depending on the traffic, but prefer the manual mode as it does work smoother than the automatic mode. I had never driven a manual car at all as i had always driven automatic transmisson cars. I don't have the paddles so it is the joystick shifter with me, and it is very easy to use.
Comment by Bob & Jan on August 22, 2008 at 2:18pm
My wife uses the automatic mode and I switch back and forth. We are averaging 40+ mpg in town with the AC on. We now have 7800 miles on our Smart since 3/20/08 and love every mile of it.
Comment by mainefortwo on August 22, 2008 at 12:45pm
With over 6,000 miles in the first 3 months of ownership, I have used the paddle shifters 99% of the time. As noted above I only use the floor stick in tight right hand turns as the paddle ends up pointed straight up. The only time I used the computer controlled shifting was when stuck on the Turnpike in stop-and-go traffic due to an accident. By manually shifting between 3,000 - 4,000 RPM the performance is adequate and I have ranged between 40 - 44 MPG in mixed driving. The lower MPG is normally due to A/C use when hot, or accelerating too quickly, or going above the +5 rule of thumb for speed limits.
Comment by JohnnyD on August 22, 2008 at 11:50am
I can shift the car a bit smoother with the shifters as compaired to automatic. I seem to be able to keep the car from reving up before shift when I drive in manual. Tey reset my trans computer earlier this week because I was having a problem with shifting out of first in automatic every once in a while. Seems to be shifting better all around. When I do use manual, I use the floor shifter in turns. I have used auto and manual and no real difference in milage that I have noticed. You will LOVE your vehicle no matter how you drive it!!!
Comment by DLP on August 22, 2008 at 11:46am
I just got mine two days ago and I have the paddle shifters. You treat it just like a regular manual transmission with no clutch. I was a bit nervous about the paddle shifters but I took to them like a duck to water. Only hitch is when you are turning corners. The paddle shifters of course turn with the wheel so they are out of position when you need to shift while going around a corner. I just use the joystick shifter then and when I get to driving straight again, I switch back to the paddle shifters. I am told that you get better mileage driving it in manual. Since you have to ease up on the gas peddle when you are driving in automatic anyway, I just drive in manual all the time. I love mine and I am really excited for you.

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