Yes that’s the full title of my little Smartie in the header. I actually had to look it up as I tend to get confused with the various models.
That’s my favourite photo of the wee car. I took it up at Carrbridge – just off the A9 a few miles north of Aviemore during my first weeks of ownership over two and half years ago.
The steam engine in the background will probably need to be painted regularly to keep the rust at bay but Smartie is going into her third winter now and still looks as fresh as she was the day I bought her up in Perth. No doubt the liberal use of plastic in her body panels has something to do with it.
A car for all seasons? At times like this she doesn’t have a choice in the matter —
As someone who has spent a big part of my working life in steel plating and welding I avoided plastic like the plague in the distant past but times change and my Smartie has at least two things in common with my Yamaha Tenere XT660Z.
One similarity is the liberal use of plastic in their bodywork and the other is that they share the same 54bhp. Yes that 54 in the topic title denotes little Smarties power output and the Tenere pumps out the same amount. In the case of the bike it comes from a single cylinder – water cooled – petrol engined motor that boasts a few thousand more revs.
My Smartie is a long way from being the best car on the road but neither is she the worst – priced north of ten grand at the time of purchase in May 2010 I wouldn’t say she was the greatest value for money either —
The wide doors – firm seat and driving position are spot-on for six footers like me and the useful boot space holds much more than one would think at first glance. I’ve even used her for furniture removal – not of baby grand proportions but quite big lumps never-the-less once the tailgate is folded down.
I’ve just been working out fuel consumption and it comes out around 65mpg in winter months. This low-ish figure is partly due to the additive the oil companies put in the fuel to stop it freezing at this time of year but may also be due in no small part to my big right foot. I do like to keep that little motor spinning between 2 and 3000rpm. I find it prevents the turbo control valves from gumming up leading to power loss which is a pain in the butt when it happens. To the best of my knowledge the manufacturers still haven’t got their heads round this problem and prefer to wish it away. This little car has had the two valves concerned with the turbo replaced under warranty.
Summer running brings the average fuel consumption figure to around the 70mpg mark.
She isn’t a bad little mover – except in crosswinds when she can have a mind of her own. Suspension is quite firm leading to the introduction of a thick foam cushion in recent months due to the operation on my posterior. There were times when I was whingeing to myself for having replaced my big comfy Dodge with a roller skate!
But – I dispensed with the cushion last week so I must be making progress in that department and this exercise in checking Smartie running costs makes me feel better still. Fuel costs are about as cheap as I’m going to get with four wheels and a roof. Annual road tax is zilch due to the low emissions from the 800cc – 3cyl diesel and the annual service comes in at around £170.00.
On the downside the tyres on the rear axle were worn out at 16,000 miles but the lightly laden fronts still show stacks of tread with almost 25,000 on the clock.
The rig mounted on the red car was what convinced me I could manage with a Smartcar. I was parked at the head of Glen Ogle with the Dodge preparing for a walk in the hills when this red car pulled in beside me complete with mountain bike.
I remember asking the owner a whole avalanche of questions about the car and he must have convinced me there was more to them than I had imagined because within five days my lovely Dodge that had hauled my bikes and caravan all round Europe —
had gone and I was running this little silver Passion.
Will I keep her for another year? It will depend on whether I wear my Captain Sensible hat in 2013 🙂