Product Type: Smart cars
Newest Review: ... the big ones where the fully auto, electric mirrors, side airbags and speaker pack. I brought what was considered to be a mk6 the new pe... more
Not so Smart ...
Smart & Pulse
Author Name: Macliam
Smart & Pulse
Date: 05/04/01, updated on 05/04/01 (476 review reads)
Advantages: A well equipped city car .....
Disadvantages: .... but let down by the mechanics
I've seen these buzzing around the city and they look fun, so I decided on a test drive - or two.
First of all, I don't have a problem with the design - in fact a car like this needs to stand out and not just try to be a small version of the 'big boys'. There's plenty of room for the 2 passengers too - more than in the front of a Mondeo, so no problem there. Oh, and it's well put together. It may not carry the 3-pointed star, but it's a baby Merc.
Secondly, I don't have a problem with the engine size, the original mini was 850 cc and the Hillman Imp 875 cc, so a turbo-charged 600cc in a plastic-bodied 2-seater doesn't worry me.
Now, my wife likes the Smart and since we're moving to the country and will need a second car, it seemed a nice compromise ... after all £7000 for a well-specified new car isn't bad.
OK, my opinion after the tests....
Test1 - Just me. They didn't have a PULSE or PASSION available, so this was a PURE (no automatic, lower power output etc.) The noise was a bit odd - after all it's a tiny engine, sitting behind and below you - and the SOFTIP sequential gearbox took a bit of getting used to, but it WENT. Yes, it was fun driving around the city .... no problem at all, even the left-hand drive didn't matter - but I wanted the higher spec and my wife wanted the automatic option. So...
Test2 - PULSE..... in the country, in the rain, with the wife. Mmmm, less good. The automatic option makes the sequential box seem like a godsend!! When you decelerate for a sharp corner and try to accelerate out ...NOTHING. There is a definite time lag before any power gets to the wheels, which could prove dangerous. Second, the suspension felt like I was running on pram wheels. Narrow road, poor visibility, high hedges and left-hand drive, No. Maybe a test drive in a PASSION?....
Undeterred, I checked out the mundane things like servicing and insu
rance. Now excuse me, but £125 for a minor service sounds a bit steep for a little car ... and I couldn't even get a quote for a major service. I also picked up a few 'hints' that the turbocharger was a bit suspect and might need replacing after 60,000 miles (!). As for insurance, well OK, it's LHD and a novelty .... but everyone I tried quoted me higher than a standard family car to insure.
Result ... fun car for the city for one person or the occasional two, but at a price. Not so good for my needs, so I'll keep looking.