Alex's smart review!
Dean's smart review

The smart fortwo coupe - Pulse... and then some

What's cooler?  ... It's a rhetorical question.

From the 2005 Vancouver Auto ShowPrologue:
Enthusiasm can be a very blinding emotion, adversely affecting a rational decision-making process. As such, we were inclined to rent a smart car for a day in order to give our heart's desire a true "test drive". A couple months after ordering the car (for which we could have had our money refunded), various questions and concerns began to accumulate, and the only way to answer these would be to spend a day with a smart car.

With an impending visit by my friend Rob (a.k.a. Pirate Lord Rob Von. B), who is no stranger to the automobile, and even builds and races vehicles himself, the timing was perfect. I knew that I could count on Rob for an unbiased opinion. He also understood our reasons for desiring this car -- first and foremost, an economical vehicle for local business use that would also be comfortable to go longer distances if required. Furthermore, because both Dean and I suffer as we do from chronic tendinitis, we needed a vehicle that was basically power everything.

I picked up the car from the Budget car rental place in Chinatown, where I quickly discovered that I knew more about the car and its operation than the people at the car rental place. Furthermore, they thought that my interest in a smart car was misplaced, and suggested that I look at something like a mini Cooper (*insert much eye rolling here*). Once home, Rob, Dean and myself each took turns taking the car out on the beautiful sunny day that we were blessed with. Naturally, because the car is a two seater, we could only go out two at a time. Since we valued Rob's opinion so greatly, we made sure that he was almost always in the car.

Features:Rob Von B. going for a whirl -- he does not come with the car.
Admittedly, I drove the car with the soft touch automatic option active throughout the day, and quite enthusiastically drove it within the city, out on the highway and navigating the various and sundry terrain that Vancouver had to offer. I had a tremendous amount of fun on the highway flying past many other vehicles. I must interject at this point and explain that I have a rather heavy foot, and routinely drive as quickly as possible (my adage is that if there is open space in front of me, I will drive faster). Because of this, I also found that I was not disappointed with the speeds that the smart car could achieve. Yes 135 kph is not the fastest I would normally go, but it is sufficient for 95% of the driving that we plan to do. And technically, having recently been issued my first speeding ticket, I really shouldn't need to drive any faster.

The car itself I found extremely comfortable. I have driven dozens of different cars over the yePassion's Seatars and one of my biggest complaints with many of them is that they are simply quite uncomfortable to sit in for any length of time. Don't even get me started on the Kia. The smart car was a pleasant exception, and once I had the back adjusted vertically, I was really happy. In fact, I was happiest when I found out that I wouldn't have to contend with a terribly placed headrest. I routinely annoy Dean by removing the headrest on any vehicle that we drive because I find that it always gets in the way of my shoulder check, or nudges me uncomfortably in the back of the skull. Not the case with the smart car. Which is a good thing since the headrest is built directly into the seat itself and impossible to remove without major reconstructive surgery.

The car is surprisingly roomy, and I did not feel any hint of claustrophobia whatsoever. In fact, you are deluded into thinking you still have about half a car behind you. I still find it quite a shock when I get out of the smart car and realise I drove something that small when it didn't feel like that at all.

Initially I thought thatPassion's Mirror the rearview mirror would be too small, but I found that it was not (I even flirted with the idea of taxicab style rearview mirrors for about five minutes). In fact, it reflected as much of the road as was really needed. Likewise, the side view mirrors work just fine when adjusted according to your own specifications. Not actually owning a smart car yet, but having driven one several times, I'm still prone to making shoulder checks which are entirely unnecessary. It takes a little getting used to the mirrors and the range of visuals, but I don't feel as though there are any blind spots or disadvantages. I just need to stop looking like an idiot while making unnecessary shoulder checks.

We even did a Costco run and found that we could fit quite a few groceries in the back. I'm actually quite satisfied with the amount of room in the back and feel that it will effectively contain and hold all we will ever need it to for the most part. For years we have had larger items either delivered, or we have rented a van when necessary. Again, for 95% or more of our needs, the trunk room is more than sufficient.

No problem -- let's go to the pub!Forthree:
As the day wore on, I became more and more excited over the smart car, realizing that we were definitely about to make a very wise purchasing decision. As dinnertime approached, we decided to go down to the pub yet were faced with the fact that the smart car only seated 2 people.

It was time to see if we could transform the fortwo into a forthree. I actually fit quite comfortably in the back, and in hindsight once we got going, I realised that a pillow would have made my journey even more comfortable. But there's definitely enough room in the back for a small person to fit (I'm 5' 4") -- without groceries, of course. I admittedly had a lot of fun waving at people while sitting in the back.

Wet and Wild:
By the tAll Wet, yet ready to goime we got out of the pub it had started to rain. Perfect. It had not rained in so long that there was a nice oil slick on the surface of the pavement brought up from the rain. What's worse than night driving in the rain? At least for people in British Columbia. Once again we took turns, and I found that the car performed very well. In some cars I have driven, there was a sense of nervousness at approximately 110 kph that I did not feel with the smart car. I always felt like I was in control, and more so, that the car was in control.

Testing that theory further, Rob and I went to a reasonably empty parking lot and decided to see just how far we could push the car. Racing down the wet slick pavement, I cranked on the wheel and jammed on the brakes simultaneously. The smart car just stopped. I looked at Rob and thought maybe I did something wrong. Normally I can make a car skid without any problem. So I tried again... and again... and again. No matter how fast we went, how hard I jammed on the brakes, or how severely I cranked on the wheel, I could not make the car lose control or skid. Then I handed the wheel over to Rob. He likewise did his worst, and had the same reaction as I did. WOW! The computer control was like nothing I had ever experienced before. At that point I was more than sold. I wanted one now!

Recently I was given an opportunity to drive a smart car for a weekend -- thanks very much to our Mercedes dealership who loaned us their smart car. Without the soft touch option, I had to drive the car mVroom Vroomanually with the sequential transmission. While this made my tendinitis scream like crazy, I learned even more about the car. The sequential transmission was a lot of fun to drive, and it doesn't take very long to get used to. For most city driving, however, the automatic soft touch option will be very nice.

However, some concerns that I do have are as follows: the recent trend in "smart car tipping", fulfilling the childish need of individuals to cause mayhem. There have been a couple of incidences of this in Canada already, and cost the owners several thousand dollars in repairs. However, we are looking into an anti-tipping alarm (similar to that which is used on motorcycles), to deal with this recent fascination by the miscreant youth of today. Wanting to drive a lot (although is this really a minus?). The intractable passenger seat will need to be welded upright to be comfortable (it's current position is insufferable)

Some things that I am most excited about: great gas mileage. A comfortable vehicle. Automatic everything. A really cool looking car (one that can actually be souped up and fitted with Brabus accessories).