With a commute of just 12 miles – starting near the Thames at Battersea and ending in leafy Teddington (also by the Thames) – you might imagine that the Smart we’re running on our fleet would be an ideal steed.
I have to regard the Smart as a miserable grief box that should have been put out of its misery in 2004, when city analysts reckoned the ‘future of urban transport’ had lost over €600 million for Mercedes in that year alone.
Despite the second-generation make over, Mercedes has never really cured the Smart’s rather uncertain ‘tiptoe’ manner. The Smart feels too narrow, has too short a wheelbase and tiny front wheels that always feel on the verge of being overwhelmed.
And the overhaul of the transmission also failed to improve the halting gearshift. The only car I ever experienced with worse mid-shift engine braking was a non-turbo diesel Austin Maestro I endured over a weekend in 1994.
I admire the Smart’s interior design (aside from the ridiculously high, non-adjustable, driver’s seat) greatly, but compared to Toyota’s deeply impressive iQ, the Smart is plain stupid.