Technically, there is no 2007 Smart. The company will introduce an all-new design for model year 2008, and so has stopped production of the current model; showroom offerings in calendar year 2007 will be leftover 2006 models. Pricing does not change with the calendar year.
Available as a coupe or cabriolet, the Smart is a quirky little inner-city runabout that’s much roomier than its tiny envelope suggests. It’s marketed under its own brand name by Mercedes-Benz, but is sold through that company’s dealerships.
Thanks to Smart’s tall configuration and sloping toe boards, it will accommodate a wide variety of passengers, from very short to very tall. The rear cargo area will easily take the average couple’s weekly groceries, and the passenger seat can be folded for more storage space if necessary.
The rear-mounted, three-cylinder turbodiesel engine is noisy under acceleration, but delivers impressive fuel economy. The six-speed, clutchless sequential transmission can be optioned to a “Softouch” version that can also be put into automatic mode, although shift changes are neck-snapping. When its stock three-season tires are replaced with winter rubber, it’s actually much better in snow than expected. ABS and an electronic stability program are standard, and since it can spin on its own axis, the ESP cannot be disabled. The front passenger airbag can’t be turned off, either: Smart is not intended for the parents of small children.
While it’s intended as a city car, it cruises comfortably on the highway, with 120 km/h presenting no problem. It does take some getting used to having the back window right behind one’s head; vehicles that stop a safe distance back still look like they’re an inch away. When parking at the mall, it’s best to stay at the front of the spot, lest other drivers swoop in, thinking it’s empty. Finding diesel can also be a problem in some downtown areas, although the Smart doesn’t need filling very often.
The cabriolet features a “Tritop” that opens three ways. The power canvas roof peels back; unlock the latch, and it drops down to open the rear as well. The side rails can be removed and stowed in a special storage area inside the trunk lid, to turn the Smart into a convertible that’s surprisingly sturdy and with no cowl shake. While it’s not as simple as a conventional one-button power convertible top, it only takes a couple of minutes to open it completely, and it’s easy to do.
Both the coupe and cabriolet come in three trim lines. The base Pure comes with 15-inch steel wheels, central locking with remote, CD player, storage box in the doors, power windows, and intermittent rear wiper (on the coupe).
The mid-line Pulse adds 15-inch alloy wheels, three-spoke leather-wrapped wheel with gearshift paddles, clock, tachometer, glass roof with sunscreen (on the coupe), and silver-painted grille.
The top-line Passion adds air conditioning, Softouch gear program, heated power mirrors, cargo cover and storage nets in the doors.
Features on the upper-line models can be optioned to the lower lines; as well, such things as heated seats, leather upholstery, six-CD changer and a single cupholder (an odd $56 option in a car that comes standard with an ashtray) can also be purchased.
As tiny cars go, Smart is relatively expensive for its size. It’s not the most sophisticated ride, and there are numerous compacts on the market that offer more seats, more power and more features for less money. But it’s got an unmistakable cool factor, it’ll go 300 km and give you change back from a twenty when you fill it, and you never have to worry about back-seat drivers.