Cracking used buys that won’t break the bank
On fleet since: July 2009
Official combined mpg: 83.1mpg
Our average economy: 60.2 this month
Price as tested: £12,475
Gallery: Long-term Smart ForTwo
Where have we been?
We've been using the Smart like a regular car as far as possible. For one thing I don't live in a city but my 12 mile commute across country seems like a reasonable task for this little car.
Hey, in theory an electric Smart should have the range to take me to and from the office, though that model won't be available to the general public for a while yet.
There's also been a 70 mile trip around the M25 to Gatwick, followed by a run home via Pall Mall in the centre of London for a meeting at the RAC Club. In two days the car had covered pretty well every type of road and traffic.
And, as promised last month, we have used the Smart to transport bikes. Not just mine, but Dan's on a separate occasion to do something much more serious....
What has impressed?
Before we get on the bikes, let's cover the roof on this Smart convertible. To gain the full open-air effect the roof has to be powered back and the frames above the doors removed.
With the very best intentions this will happen only once per owner. It's simply too tiresome to get out, unclip the frames (easy enough) and store them in the special compartment in the boot lid.
But don't take that as too much of a criticism. The obverse of this is the sheer simplicity with which the electric section of the fabric roof folds back. It's so convenient and so draft free I use it far more often than I would a folding steel roof.
The Smart looks rather good in fresh-air mode with the bikes on too. The sturdily engineered aluminium rack is dead easy to locate and bolt in place and the bikes are held solidly.
There are quite a lot of straps and clamps to deal with but I guess that's German engineering. My old Paddy Hopkirk bike rack just needs a couple of elastics attaching, but things have moved on.
The Smart goes racing
Dan writes: Nearby Aston Hill is famous for giving its name to a brand of sports cars that used to race up it back in the day. But I was going to be racing down it on my mountain bike.
Downhilling is, unsurprisingly, quite a macho, blokey sport. So it was no surprise my arrival at the car park was met with sniggers. But I got the last laugh, finding a teeny space nobody else could have used.
The rack is one of the best I've ever experienced too - fast, secure and very solid. The only problem is that the Smart is so narrow the bike sticks out either side by some margin.
It's a lot better than the old bike rack Smart sold though, which put the bike very high up, crippling the fuel consumption and motorway speed. This new set-up doesn't affect either noticeably - top marks!
What's not so impressive?
It's funny but interesting that my focus on the Smart changes almost by the week. From looking forward to my M25/Gatwick/central London foray, I got to the stage this week where I wanted to drive anything else.
Part of the issue is hardly the fault of the Smart. I had just spend a couple of days driving the new Bentley Continental SuperSports and despite its sport-oriented suspension, the smooth roads in Spain provided enormous comfort.
The Smart's ride, on the other hand, is turning out to be its most challenging characteristic. Everything would be better, I am sure, if this wasn't the age of the speed hump.
But it is and, as Dan eloquently puts it, the Smart doesn't so much as ride over the humps, it climbs up one side, sits on the top and then goes down the other.
There's no way around this, and it is both tiresome and uncomfortable. It's inevitable in a car this tall and with such a short wheelbase that something has to give.
What now for the Smart?
I just can't help thinking that a Fiat 500C - C for convertible - might provide an interesting alternative at a similar price. We have booked one in to find out.
Report 1: Smart Fortwo Cabrio CDI: arrival
Report 2: Smart Fortwo Cabrio CDI: month two
Report 3: Smart Fortwo Cabrio CDI: month three (this report)
Report 4: Smart Fortwo Cabrio CDI: month four
Report 5: Smart Fortwo Cabrio CDI: month five
Report 6: Smart Fortwo Coupe CDI: month six
Report 7: Smart Fortwo Coupe CDI: final report
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