Smart Cars: One Owner's Story

margaret casey with smart car photo
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Since the Smart Car was introduced in the USA in January, the reviews have generally been awful. Seth Stevenson of Slate test-drove one of the new Americanized, bigger and more powerful Smarts and was disappointed, and suggested that the main market will be those who crave attention. That's "what's driving the Fortwo's sales. Smart's press materials compare owning a Fortwo to owning an iPod or an iPhone, and it's easy to see why: All three are high-design, overpriced objects of shimmery desire."

In Canada, the Smart Car has been around for more than four years and nobody bothers to even look at them in the cities anymore. Out in the country they are a bit thinner on the ground; there isn't a problem squeezing into parking spaces in the woods. Margaret Casey is our District Councillor in Muskoka, a "playground of the rich" 200 miles north of Buffalo. She has driven a Smart Car for three years, year round in a hilly, rural part of Ontario that got seventeen feet of snow last winter. I asked her for her review and met her in Dorset.

Margaret Casey has pushed her Smart for Two 100,000 kilometers (62,000 miles).She bought it because she has to drive a lot, sixty to a hundred miles per day to see her constituents, and wanted the most fuel efficient car on the market that she could afford, to reduce the carbon footprint of her travels. In summer she gets 3.8 liters per hundred kilometers, which translates to 61.89 miles per gallon. In the winter she gets a bit less, because of the snow tires. Margaret notes that this summer was the first time that it cost her more than twenty bucks to fill up the tank, but she still got 400 kilometers (248 miles) out of it.

She manages in winter, even in one blizzard where the ploughs were called off the road. Margaret feels safe in it on the highway because it is so high; her son is 6'-10" tall and feels comfortable in it, while there are many other cars where he just can't fit.

"It is amazing how much I can fit into the car, including my Portuguese Water dog."

About the only thing she doesn't like is the heater- it goes down to 30F below here and she has to bundle up. Margaret is also planning to replace it eventually with the gasoline powered version- out here in the country it is hard for her to find convenient diesel fuel.

So a completely different story than that in Slate- this Smart Car driver is thrilled with the mileage, comfortable among the big trucks and SUVs on the highway, and ploughs it through a winter with seventeen feet of snow. I would call that a good review.