MY FIRST SIGHTING of a SmartCar in the wild. Cute and little, but I think a Jetta TDI would be more practical, and I think they even get better mileage.
UPDATE: Various readers point out that the SmartCar is both (much) cheaper and (much) easier to park in an urban setting than the Jetta. Fair points.
ANOTHER UPDATE: More on whether the SmartCar is a good deal, here.
It’s not especially inexpensive — $11,590 for the base Pure coupe — $13,590 for the “loaded” Passion coupe (and $16,590 for the convertible). At least, not relative to what else you can buy for that money — for example, a Chevy Aveo ($10,235), Toyota Yaris ($12,225), Kia Spectra ($12,895), or Hyundai Accent ($12,925).
And those are subcompact sedans; they can carry four people. The so-called Smart car is a hypercompact two-seater. If you need room for even three people, you’ll need to buy another car. How smart is that, exactly?
But it gets great gas mileage — right?
Actually, not that great. EPA rates the Smart car at 33 mpg city and 40 mpg on the highway. That’s not bad. Then again, a Toyota Yaris (with four doors and room for four people, remember) gets 29 city, 36 highway. So the “smart” car gets exactly 4 mpg better mileage in town and on the highway. Big whoop. And unlike traditional subcompacts, which can be driven pretty much anywhere, the Smart car is only usable as an in-city commuter.
But you’ll be noticed, and for some that’s enough.