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Old 05-08-2016, 02:55 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Blackfly - '98 Geo Metro
Team Metro
Last 3: 70.09 mpg (US)

MPGiata - '90 Mazda Miata
90 day: 52.8 mpg (US)

Winter beater Metro - '00 Chevrolet Metro
90 day: 73.57 mpg (US)

Fancy Metro - '14 Mitsubishi Mirage top spec
90 day: 58.72 mpg (US)
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First test drive: Smart Fortwo diesel cabriolet - saw 67 mpg US (100% city)

A friend of mine had been driving a 2005 Mercedes SUV, and it got written off -- hit by a large truck & trailer in a parking lot (driver failed to account for trailer swing behind the axles when turning and it raked the entire side of the Merc so hard it busted the front wheel & suspension).

So he and his wife went from this:



To this:



This is the .8L diesel model that Canada got, but the States did not (unless you got a grey market one). They switched to a gas engine when it was intro'd in the U.S.

Specs:
  • 2005 with 90k km on it (~50k miles)
  • 799 cc 3-cylinder turbo diesel
  • 40 hp / 74 lb-ft @ 1800 rpm
  • curb weight 740 kg / 1631 lbs
  • automated manual 5 (6?) speed transmission, single clutch
  • Length 2500 mm (98.4 in.) / Width 1537 mm (60.5 in.)
  • power opening soft top, manually removable A-to-B pillar roof segments
Fuel economy ratings, NRCAN retroactively adjusted/updated in 2015:
  • City: 5.7 L/100 km (41 mpg US)
  • Highway: 4.7 L/100 km (51 mpg US)
  • Combined: 5.2 L/100 km (45 mpg US)



Driving impressions:


I've wanted to try one of these since they came out, but never got around to it (no dealer in my little city). I once contacted some local members from a Smart forum and started arranging something, but it never happened.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised.

Probably because the "professional" reviews had set me up with pretty low expectations. They harped on:
  • "terrible" automated manual transmission -- by far the most often mentioned trait
  • underpowered: 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in about 20 seconds
  • noisy
  • expensive for what you get (the cabrio I drove listed for ~$24k in 2005)
Of course I would have preferred a normal transmission. Most of the complaints are about "herky jerky" gear changes while accelerating. Unintended head-nods. But I didn't think the upshifts were terrible.

The downshifts, however, were pretty bad. Mostly because they took way too long. It felt like ~2 seconds from request to delivery. Wow. You'd get used to it and compensate, of course, but c'mon just give me a manual... problem solved. (No 3rd pedal was offered at all.)

That's probably my biggest complaint. Other than that, it was entertaining to pilot the wee thing (probably didn't hurt that the roof was open on a warm-ish, sunny spring day).

It was, of course, pretty slow. Which is saying a lot considering the cars in my ownership history. Not a problem in normal driving, though I didn't do any freeway on-ramps, just city use.





Observed fuel economy

67 mpg US / 3.5 L/100 km -- uncalibrated ScanGauge, 100% sub/urban driving, warm engine start.

I used most of my time with the car to go on the same route I've used for eco-driving instruction. Not surprisingly, it's one of the best results I've seen. (I'll dig up some comparison numbers...)

Nothing fancy, other than using the transmission's manual mode to short shift & get into the highest possible gear when cruising on the level. I neutral coasted once or twice, but otherwise just relied on deceleration fuel cut-off. I didn't kill the engine at any stop lights.


Would I own one?


Sure! With a caveat.

I came away super impressed by the MPG, and pleasantly surprised that it wasn't as terrible as the reviews suggested. "Manually" operating the transmission kept me entertained.

Price? I think they paid around $4000 for this one. Coincidentally, another acquaintance is selling a coupe version of the same year for ~$3500. (Surprisingly, there are 5 or 6 of these tooling around my city despite no dealership.)

The caveat: I have no idea what parts/repair costs are. I have heard vague rumours that the engines aren't very durable, but haven't investigated to see if it's true.



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Latest mods test: 15 mods = 15% MPG improvement: A-B test, 2007 Honda Civic 1.8L, 5-speed
Ecodriving test:
Manual vs. automatic transmission MPG showdown: Nissan Micra 1.6L



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Old 05-08-2016, 03:03 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Blackfly - '98 Geo Metro
Team Metro
Last 3: 70.09 mpg (US)

MPGiata - '90 Mazda Miata
90 day: 52.8 mpg (US)

Winter beater Metro - '00 Chevrolet Metro
90 day: 73.57 mpg (US)

Fancy Metro - '14 Mitsubishi Mirage top spec
90 day: 58.72 mpg (US)
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Oh, and the owner was stunned when I told him the fuel economy.

Stupidly, the car has no OEM consumption gauge. From his research and a few fill-ups he figured the car was good for about 50 mpg US in mostly city driving in warm weather.

I explained the key things I did to improve from 50 to 67 mpg. (Him: "You must have been driving so slowly! Pissing off other drivers?" Me: "Nope!") I offered to show him, but he wasn't really interested. Going from ~10 mpg in the Merc (RIP), any number a Smart delivers is good enough.

He did jokingly admit that he over-compensates for the Smart's teensy-weensy image... he drives the car pretty hard in traffic, "racing" away from lights, etc.
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Latest mods test: 15 mods = 15% MPG improvement: A-B test, 2007 Honda Civic 1.8L, 5-speed
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Manual vs. automatic transmission MPG showdown: Nissan Micra 1.6L



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Old 05-08-2016, 10:57 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Ruby Sparks - '01 Honda Insight
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What did you think about the .8 liter 3 cylinder diesel? Pretty unusual to see it on a production car.
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Old 05-09-2016, 03:53 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Join Date: Nov 2007
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Blackfly - '98 Geo Metro
Team Metro
Last 3: 70.09 mpg (US)

MPGiata - '90 Mazda Miata
90 day: 52.8 mpg (US)

Winter beater Metro - '00 Chevrolet Metro
90 day: 73.57 mpg (US)

Fancy Metro - '14 Mitsubishi Mirage top spec
90 day: 58.72 mpg (US)
Thanks: 3,102
Thanked 5,975 Times in 3,097 Posts
0.8L diesel

I liked it. It's got some torque, so it's happy loafing around at relatively low RPM.

Compare to my Firefly (Metro):
  • Smart Fortwo 0.8L diesel torque: 74 lb-ft @ 1800 RPM
  • Chevrolet Metro 1.0L gasoline torque: 58 lb-ft @ 3300 RPM
In manual mode, it was fine cruising in 5th gear on the level at 30 mph / 50 km/h. Left in automatic mode, I think it's holding 3rd gear at that speed.

It's kind of noisy of course, though being situated right behind your butt doesn't help isolate things very much.
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Latest mods test: 15 mods = 15% MPG improvement: A-B test, 2007 Honda Civic 1.8L, 5-speed
Ecodriving test:
Manual vs. automatic transmission MPG showdown: Nissan Micra 1.6L



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Old 05-09-2016, 04:03 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: 1000 Islands, Ontario, Canada
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Blackfly - '98 Geo Metro
Team Metro
Last 3: 70.09 mpg (US)

MPGiata - '90 Mazda Miata
90 day: 52.8 mpg (US)

Winter beater Metro - '00 Chevrolet Metro
90 day: 73.57 mpg (US)

Fancy Metro - '14 Mitsubishi Mirage top spec
90 day: 58.72 mpg (US)
Thanks: 3,102
Thanked 5,975 Times in 3,097 Posts
ecodriving route comparison

Here's how the Smart stacks up against the top cars on my 100% city ecodriving route. These are all warm weather numbers, all engines up to full operating temp to start:
  • 75 mpg US - my 1998 Firefly/Metro 1.0, 5-spd (lots of EOC)
  • 70 mpg US - 2013 Lexus 200h hybrid (lots of EOC, of course)
  • 69 mpg US - 2004 Toyota Prius (lots of EOC, of course)
  • 67 mpg US - 2004 Smart Fortwo (basic ecodriving, no EOC)
  • 56 mpg US - 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage 1.2L 5-spd (basic ecodriving, no EOC)
  • 51 mpg US - 2015 Nissan Micra 1.6L 5-spd (some EOC)
It's a ~7.5 km sub/urban route that includes lots of stops, turns & traffic lights and takes about 15 minutes from start to finish (ending up at the starting point).

I actually hit more red lights than typical in the Smart's lap. If I'd shut the engine down at red lights & hit a couple more greens, I'm sure it would have been in the low 70's.
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Latest mods test: 15 mods = 15% MPG improvement: A-B test, 2007 Honda Civic 1.8L, 5-speed
Ecodriving test:
Manual vs. automatic transmission MPG showdown: Nissan Micra 1.6L



EcoModder
has launched a forum for the efficient new Mitsubishi Mirage
www.MetroMPG.com - fuel efficiency info for Geo Metro owners
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Last edited by MetroMPG; 05-11-2016 at 11:50 AM.. Reason: (added Prius info)
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Old 05-09-2016, 05:05 PM   #6 (permalink)
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CM400E - '81 Honda CM400E
90 day: 58.68 mpg (US)

Daox's Grey Prius - '04 Toyota Prius
Team Toyota
90 day: 49.53 mpg (US)

Daox's Insight - '00 Honda Insight
90 day: 64.33 mpg (US)

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Very respectable. How do the Insight and Prius fit into that list?
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Old 05-10-2016, 10:31 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Join Date: Nov 2007
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Blackfly - '98 Geo Metro
Team Metro
Last 3: 70.09 mpg (US)

MPGiata - '90 Mazda Miata
90 day: 52.8 mpg (US)

Winter beater Metro - '00 Chevrolet Metro
90 day: 73.57 mpg (US)

Fancy Metro - '14 Mitsubishi Mirage top spec
90 day: 58.72 mpg (US)
Thanks: 3,102
Thanked 5,975 Times in 3,097 Posts
Oh, good question! I forgot to add them to the list (I will go back and put them in.)

I don't think I took the Insight on that route. (Oops.)

But the 2004 Prius was:

3.4 L/100 km (indicated) = 69 mpg (US) = 83 mpg (Imp)

Not surprisingly, pretty close to the Lexus 200h result. I added it to the list in the previous post.
__________________
Latest mods test: 15 mods = 15% MPG improvement: A-B test, 2007 Honda Civic 1.8L, 5-speed
Ecodriving test:
Manual vs. automatic transmission MPG showdown: Nissan Micra 1.6L



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Old 05-11-2016, 03:13 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Chorizo - '00 Honda Civic HX, baby! :D
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Was the gas smart available with a manual transmission? If so, would a swap be possible?
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Old 05-11-2016, 11:49 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: 1000 Islands, Ontario, Canada
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Blackfly - '98 Geo Metro
Team Metro
Last 3: 70.09 mpg (US)

MPGiata - '90 Mazda Miata
90 day: 52.8 mpg (US)

Winter beater Metro - '00 Chevrolet Metro
90 day: 73.57 mpg (US)

Fancy Metro - '14 Mitsubishi Mirage top spec
90 day: 58.72 mpg (US)
Thanks: 3,102
Thanked 5,975 Times in 3,097 Posts
Nope!

The new 2016 Smart has a manual option for the first time in the U.S. & Canada. Though it's a redesigned car, so probably not a simple retrofit.
__________________
Latest mods test: 15 mods = 15% MPG improvement: A-B test, 2007 Honda Civic 1.8L, 5-speed
Ecodriving test:
Manual vs. automatic transmission MPG showdown: Nissan Micra 1.6L



EcoModder
has launched a forum for the efficient new Mitsubishi Mirage
www.MetroMPG.com - fuel efficiency info for Geo Metro owners
www.ForkenSwift.com - electric car conversion on a beer budget
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Old 05-11-2016, 01:38 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I seriously considered getting a diesel Smart when I was shopping for an econo car. it was on ebay, out of state, no back seat and a little more than I wanted to pay. ended up with the jetta.

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