Daihatsu’s Charade looks like a boring econo-box city car. Let us assure you, it isn’t.
On fleet since: January 2010
Official combined mpg: 83.1mpg
Our average economy: 60mpg
Performance: 0-62mph 16.8secs/84mph
Power/Torque: 54hp@3800rpm/96lb ft@2250 - 2500rpm
Insurance group: 3E
Options fitted: Smart sound system (£200), breakdown kit (£70),
Luxury Package (heated leather seats and dash) £690.
Price as tested: £11,150
Pros: Much improved performance, easy parking, quick and easy luggage access
Cons: Uncompromisingly hard suspension, expensive, will we ever get close to the quoted mpg figures?
Gallery: Smart ForTwo Cabrio Passion CDI
Everything. We have a brand new Smart. I will explain. Shortly after we took delivery of our long termer last July, Smart announced a revised model with another 9hp.
In the normal scheme of things 9hp might well be unnoticeable, but in a car that has just 45hp to start with, this represents a 20% boost. We swapped new for old in January.
Where have we been?
The first thing CJ and I did is take both cars out on a mix of cross country, motorway and city driving, swapping back and forth, to get a true back-to-back comparison.
The difference is remarkable. The new Smart is more relaxing to drive, pulling more strongly through the gears, with less need to drop down a cog to get the required acceleration.
The original diesel had an unpleasant harshness if you tried to change into fourth gear too soon. Indeed, at 30mph you tended to drive in third gear to avoid that, with detrimental effect on the economy.
Smart Mark 2 pulls a higher fourth gear yet that harshness has all but been eliminated. And there's another trade-off with this extra power.
The diesel now works very much better in automatic mode, making this a proposition I increasingly use now that I have learned to drive around the rather lumpy gearchange routine.
Another reason for using the Smart as an automatic is this new version isn't fitted with the optional paddle gearshifts behind the steering wheel. They are an excellent option and sorely missed.
Not so the power steering option. This new car doesn't have it and to be honest I hadn't even noticed until CJ pointed it out. You really don't need it in a Smart.
I have put lots of miles into the Smart in the New Year. As Dan noted in the last report, the little car does remarkably well in the snow, and its performance is such that I rarely think twice about taking on any journey of less than 100 miles.
The punchy performance now means I can do more than merely keeping up with the traffic. The Smart can be pace-setting should you choose. You just have to accept that overtaking is rarely on the cards except on a dual carriageway.
Living with the new ForTwo
There's another big change. We have switched from cabriolet to coupe. And while we loved the easy roof and open-air motoring of our first Smart, the coupe has its advantages too.
In Passion form it comes with a glass panoramic roof, a very nice feature. Visibility is rather better all round and stuffing things into the boot through the rear glass hatch is easier too.
2010 upgrades result in satnav as standard in the Passion, a complex Pioneer system that incorporates Bluetooth for the phone and a full iPod interface. Despite, or perhaps because of, the £200 optional sound system that adds speakers and a subwoofer, I am not impressed with the sound quality.
Looking after the Smart
It's time to pull up the carpet in the boot to find that little diesel engine and to check the oil. Next fuel station visit, I reckon, though this chore is an easy task to put off. Will I get a warning prior to the engine seizing due to shortage of oil? I hope so.
CO2 levels are unchanged with the new engine, and economy is a bit better at around 60mpg. Yes, miles worse than the quoted figure but we've come to terms with that.
What now for the Smart?
More miles to put on. Today I am off to the estate of sculptor Henry Moore in Much Hadham to meet up with Hyundai and to drive the new iX35 SUV. Then 150 mile round trip to Peterborough for a meeting.
I never thought I'd be using the Smart as a 'proper' car before I got it, but now I rarely think twice. The times I do have doubts are when I will encounter speed humps. That's in the city. Ironic, isn't it?
Report 1: Smart Fortwo Cabrio CDI: arrival
Report 2: Smart Fortwo Cabrio CDI: month two
Report 3: Smart Fortwo Cabrio CDI: month three
Report 4: Smart Fortwo Cabrio CDI: month four
Report 5: Smart Fortwo Cabrio CDI: month five
Report 6: Smart Fortwo Coupe CDI: month six (this report)
Report 7: Smart Fortwo Coupe CDI: final report
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