After four months of ownership I continue to be enthusiastic about this car. The previous car is such a distant memory that it doesn't even occur to me that I had a larger car. This is so adequate to my needs that I don't even think of it as small -- with the exception of seeing it parked next to other cars. It makes me smile to see how appropriately sized it is. It is hard to describe why that is important to me.
Before I decided on this car (and waiting a year for it), I thought about different options and realized I wanted something appropriately sized and was unhappy with the options available until I saw this was becoming available. The car sold me for one reason only and that it is appropriately sized.
I have been taking to heart the slogan "open your mind" and have settled into a different approach to motoring. This is not an enthusiasm for driving as such. My trips are very short. The best way to describe it is that the car enables me to escape my neighborhood. I drive to a place where I can park and then walk to where I want to go. I have a pedestrian lifestyle which is great except for the part of getting into or out of my neighborhood. There is no available path that does not require walking along a narrow sidewalk next to a busy street at some point. The car gives that ability to escape that.
It is fun to be able to drive to a more walkable neighborhood and then walking from there as if I lived there. The fun part is that I can pick different neighborhoods and yet still park far enough to make a nice walk (typically 4 mile round trip walk). Walking to get errands done is very satisfying for me. The car gives me the freedom to change the start and stop points.
I like the small engine because (in my mind at least) the smaller engine is more tolerant to short (and super short) trips. Certainly the engine warms up fast. In my older car I would deliberate increase the length of the trip just to avoid the dreaded "engine light" that would come on if I stop the car before it warmed up the engine. This car likes short trips and that is another reason to love it -- all my trips are short.
I do not need the car to commute to work so it sits in the driveway most of the day. Mostly to protect it from the birds, I put on a fitted car cover. This has become another mind-opening experience: treating that car cover as the equivalent of a garage (that I do not have and there is no room for). I am very happy with how quickly I can take the cover off and stow it away and how I can put it back on -- it is really not much different in terms of time to get in and out of most garages and yet does not take up as much space as a garage.
At home, the car is covered all the time except for the few moments when I am getting ready to leave or after I arrive. As I was getting ready to get out this afternoon, a passerby walking their dogs exclaimed that my car is "naked" -- they never saw the car without the cover on. In addition due to the shape of the car, a fitted car cover on a smart looks like clothing.
I have been driving this car more frequently than my last car, while at the same time driving it shorter distances. The end result is about the same number of miles: there have been years when I put more miles on my shoes than I put on my cars. But this is working out much nicer.
I literally look forward to getting home and taking the car for the short trip to the grocery store. Part of the opening-of-the-mind, I have been thinking european-style in my approach to shopping: frequent visits to the store to get just something for one or two nights. This is something I strove to do by walking before but often lacking the energy after getting home. It is a 4 mile round trip and that's a little short for the previous car while it is just right for this one. But more importantly it just feels great to look forward to getting home so I can drive.
I enjoy driving this car like I never enjoyed driving any other. I am a big fan of the paddle shifters and of accelerating smoothly and yet quickly. I realize it is not a muscle car, but it is rare that I am holding someone back due to acceleration -- although I eventually will get passed because I do not push the unstated speed limit (10-20 mph more than posted) that others seem to demand. I take comfort in that this car is probably easy to pass.
In all honesty I never enjoyed driving before. I look back with pride at 11 years of adult life where I didn't even own a car. In fact buying this car was in part to get a "non-car" to replace the one I had. I didn't dare to go completely car-less so I thought this was a good compromise. What I did not anticipate was that this is not a "non-car". It is the most appropriate car.
Shortly after getting the car, I started driving withe passenger seat down. The seat has been down ever since. Over time I forget I even have a passenger seat. What is interesting is that there is a very different sense of what it means to be in a car. Instead of loading up the car from the rear (trunk) I load up from the passenger side and then walk around to driver side to get in. This probably more like loading up saddle-bags of a horse than loading up a car. I had thought about how the car seems to hark back to earlier vehicles (horseless carriages) due to its small size and limited purpose. But perhaps it echos back even further to horses themselves. Playing with the paddles and accelerator and feeling the car respond the way it does makes me think there is something very horse-like about this car (full disclosure I have never rode a horse and doubt I ever would).
In short I am happy for the car as it is. It is my "escape pod" to get out of my neighborhood while I still stick around town. This is a perfect car for that purpose. I know that this is not what most people want in a car and thus it is hard to answer them when they ask about it. I don't use this car like others would use it. I am not shy about taking out on the freeway and it is more than satisfactory in many ways that they may find appealing, but that's not why I love the car and I'm not really interesting in "selling the car" for what they need. The last time someone asked me something in the way of whether this would be a good car for them, I said I doubt it but they would be blind not to see me smile while saying that.