Saturday, August 02, 2008

"Smart" Is Stupid

I've seen more than one news article talking up this brand new concept of the Smart Car.

Basically, the Smart Car is a little tiny nuisance of a vehicle being hailed as some sort of triumph of automotive engineering. Starting package is around $11,000 MSRP, but likely much higher considering the ridiculous demand for these pissy little things.

It's powered by a 70 horse-power, three-cylinder engine, gets 33mpg city and 44mpg highway. It boasts a high safety rating for side and front impact collisions (I do not believe this for two seconds). It only sits two, plus maybe four grocery bags.

Back in the late 80's, Suzuki offered the Geo Metro. It had about 70 horse-power, a three cylinder engine, and got 38mpg city, and about 45mpg highway.

I had one, a '91 two-door hatchback, and this is the mileage I did indeed get. I bought it used for about $1,000 with about 100k miles on it. In three years, I put an additional 150,000 miles on top of that. Never had to fix or repair anything. Just tires,brakes and a battery. That was it.

I can tell you, the Metro was a damn good car that gave everything it promised. It didn't promise much,mind you, but it did live up to the deal.

This much ballyhoo'd 'Smart Car' is the stupidest thing to come around, at a fool's price, to boot.
We already had a car that gave just as much in mpg, just as little in performance, and offered a lot more room for shopping,groceries etc...

The only thing 'news' about the Smart Car, is that people seem to be falling for it as the next wave of gas mileage salvation.
Less is not more. Old is not new. Better it's not. I don't care how many articles you want to publish trying to convince me otherwise.


KevinK. said...

Thank you for shedding some truth on this nonsense phenomenon. Why are people buying this? 33 MPG? Are you kidding? I just posted this on my blog,, and I will relink it to you, because of your much much more honest treatment than the AP.

Mark Heuring said...

Good post - I saw one of these on the road the other day and just started laughing. A Geo Metro (or its successor, a Chevy Aveo) is a much better choice. And that goes double for those boneheads who are paying $25-30K (or more) for a Prius.

Brian said...

I first saw them a few years back in Europe...they seemed great for the narrow winding streets and scarce parking of Amsterdam and Paris. I could see them being similarly useful in New York or Boston, for the same reasons.

But I also assumed they would get a *hell* of a lot more than 33 mpg...

Palm boy said...

33 is not good enough. My family's 4cylender Camery gets 34mpg.

But the Smarts can move really well on the highway, because they can dart through the lanes quickly.

Jade said...

This thing tested well in safety crashes?!? Are you KIDDING ME?!? What did they hit it with, exactly?

I really, really *like* cute little cars (Beetles, Bugs and Rabbits in particular) but this thing... looks like it would break apart if I sneezed too hard.

Bike Bubba said...

Here's how those safety ratings work; they test the Smart, and then a similar size car. Schwinn makes 'em. So a five star safety rating on a Smart means it does better than my LaTour, not that it is comparable to even two stars on a Suburban.

Apart from the Schwinn bit, that's about how it works.

And yes, the mileage isn't that great. It's a little blob that doesn't slip through the air very well. Kinda like a minivan that didn't take its vitamins.

Guitarman said...

Smashing into a wall is not the same as meeting a F-150 head-on. This thing is gonna fly! My 97 olds 88 gets 33 mpg on the highway, fully loaded with camping gear...and you can seat 3 people in the back...and front!

Vanesa Littlecrow W. said...

I wouldn't want one because it looks like a bumper car.

I am actually surprised they don't bring back the Geo. Have you seen the resale value on those little buggers?

Bike Bubba said...

Vanessa, it takes a few hundred million to set up a production line, and the Cobalt and Aveo (successor to the Metro) get almost as good of mileage.

Plus, the autowriters would crucify GM if they brought that deathtrap back. Yes, they're selling for good prices, but making them again would be asking for trouble.

kr :) said...

Well stated.

Man, I wanted a Geo Metro like crazy when I was in high school. But my dad checked out the safety ratings and nixed it.

The dealio that sells the Smartcars up here is partly the reputed ability to pull nose-in to a parallel space ;).

Portland has a soft spot for cars that are closer to bicycles. I think we have the highest Vespa-per-captia ownership in America, and I read last year we had teh highest mini-Cooper per capita ownership in the world.

I, of course, drive Ye Olde Minivane. I am about to paint cherry blossoms and 'blown petals' over all the missing-paint spots ;).

Gino said...

kr: i think those would look better on a VW bus, dont you?