By August 29, 2007

Moving smartly along

To the delight of some and the lamentations of other Gibberish readers, I have put down a $99 reservation on a 451 model smart car. I received an email from smart on Monday, asking me to confirm my choices. The process took about three minutes, and featured what I believe to be final pricing. I selected the stock Passion, with all black body components and few extras: heated cloth seats, the smart premium radio (six disc mp3-capable CD player with AUX jack), and electric power steering. The rest of the goodies I really wanted came standard with the Passion trim. Full details below. passion coupe, 1.0 L, 71 HP, 3 cylinder engine
body panels in deep black
tridion safety cell, black
Upholstery color: design black

Standard equipment

1.0 L, 71 HP, 3 cylinder engine
5 speed automatic transmission
Paddle shifters
9-spokes alloy wheels (15″) with front tires: 155/60 R15; rear tires 175/55 R15
Tire pressure control system

body panels in deep black
Panorama roof (sun screen included)
Projector beam halogen headlights
Side indicators in yellow
Exterior mirror cap in tridion color

Upholstery color: design black
3-spoke leather sports steering wheel with steering wheel shift paddles (incl. leather gear knob)
Basic seat with weight detection and seatbelt recognition
Flat folding passenger seat with backrest adjustment
Storage areas beside the steering wheel and in both doors
Coin holder
Dome light
Mirror in passenger sun visor
Lockable glove compartment

Hydraulic dual-circuit brake system
Tire repair kit
Top Tether for child restraint system
Panic button on key
esp – electronic stability program with hill start assist
Anti-lock braking system (abs) with electronic brake force distribution
Full-size driver and passenger airbags
Head/Thorax-Side Airbags
Integral safety seats
Seat belts with belt tensioner and belt-force limiter
Drive lock – auto-activation of the central locking when driving

Functional/electrical equipment
Air conditioning with automatic temperature control (incl. dust, pollen filter)
Power windows with one-touch lowering function
Electronic and heated side mirrors
Central locking system with remote control
Instrument cluster with multifunctional display (fuel-level indicator, coolant-level indicator, residual fuel indicator, service interval indicator, trip mileage indicator, clock)
Outside temperature indicator
Indicators with lane changer function
Front windshield wiper with speed-dependent interval wiping and wiper-/wash function
Intermittent rear windshield wiper with wiper-/wash function
Electric rear window defroster
Electric tailgate release
Locking gas cap
12-volt socket, with cover

Total price before tax, license, registration, and destination charge: $14,410, less than the smart’s mindshare competitors such as the Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris, Nissan Versa, and baseline MINI Cooper. Granted, some of the listed “features” are silly — coin tray? For fuck’s sake — but I think smart is facing a similar problem that the Cooper did when it came out: people aren’t taking the car seriously. Adding a laundry list of features, no matter how small, may convince some people that this is more than a toy. I, on the other hand, fully understand that it’s a toy, and am budgeting my expectations accordingly. Part of my desire to own a smart car is because it’s a quirky little job. I can’t think of many cars in the US that offer the amount of uniqueness as the smart for less than $15,000 sticker. Unofficial reports on the smart’s fuel economy put it somewhere in the forty gallon mark. Not super awesome, but as good as my motorcycle, and has a roof and air conditioning to boot.

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6 Comments on "Moving smartly along"

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  1. Hey congrats! Looks like a nice car!

    I thought you’d already gotten it though, since you wrote about the order so long ago.

  2. drfaulken says:

    Thanks 🙂

    Yep, I placed the reservation order five months ago. There has been a lot of worry and speculation about how those reservations would be fulfilled: if they would be random, if they would be first come, first served (good for me, since I was in at Day One), how much the cars would cost, and so on. There is still a chance that dealers could price gouge, but hopefully that won’t happen.

    Stay tuned, hopefully I’ll have my smart car by March of 2008. 🙂

  3. Seems like a great deal, if the drive isn’t too noisy/uncomfortable and the pickup is sufficient for highway onramps and similar needs. Looking forward to your review in 2008.

  4. Stomper says:

    It’s very cute.

    Just curious are the Smart Cars going to be treated more like motor cycles with respect to using HOV lanes? Your post on Near Miss made me wonder. I’m assuming motor cycles get to use HOV cuz they’re small and fuel effient. The same applies to the Smart Car.

  5. drfaulken says:

    Hey Stomper,

    As far as I know, the smart car won’t qualify for HOV lane privileges like a hybrid. What’s weird is that there used to be a fair number of cars, including the Honda Civic and the Geo Metro, that would routinely get 40 – 50 MPG in actual usage. I remember reading an article in the mid-90s about a modified Metro that got close to 100 MPG on the highway.

    Anyway, I don’t expect to get any special treatment from the DMV with the smart car.

    Configuratrix: my major concern with the smart is the electronically-governed limit of 84 MPH. That’s often my cruise speed on I-95, so hopefully a hack will come out for the car before too long.

  6. On re-reading, my comment looks a bit gloomy. Didn’t mean to rain on your parade!

    And that is weird about the Honda Civic and Geo Metro (and others), that don’t qualify for the same benefits despite their lovely mileage.