Smart Car Price: Affordable for City Life

Andy Y
October 27, 2008

There’s a lot of chatter going on about the new 2009 Smart Car models and pricing, which are now in production in Hambach, France.  While I see an increasing number of Smart Cars on the road, especially popular in a challenging parking city like San Francisco, I haven’t yet gone behind the wheel.  I have to say, the Smart Car is one cute little car!  And good news, the 2009 Smart Car will come out in two additional exterior colors – making for a total of 8 delicious hues to select from.  You can read more about the Smart Car on the official website at:

So, with all the discussion about Smart Car prices, I decided to do some research for myself.  Well, first of all, there are two models, the base “Pure” and the fully loaded “Passion” (which also comes in a fancy cabriolet version).  The MSRP for the “Pure” starts at $11.9K and goes all the way up to $16.9K for the cabriolet version of the “Passion”.  Both cars have a 1.0L, 3 cylinder engine, side airbags, and the strangest thing of all, child seat anchors (child seats can only be used in a rear seat, which there is none on the Smart Car, right?)

The only difference between the two models is the addition of a panoramic glass roof, a steering wheel with shift paddles, a fancy CD + stereo…and a few more things on the “Passion”.  By the way, has a fantastic site to research new cars and see consumer reviews, check it out:
If money were no object, I’d go with the “Passion” convertible in the juicy Rally Red, I’d like for everyone to see the big smile on my face when I elegantly grab a 9 foot parking spot downtown in the middle of the day.

I then started to investigate some important things (versus just the aesthetics), such as safety and gas mileage.  The NHTSA gives the Smart Car a 5 (it’s a 5 point scale, 5 is best) for side impact collisions.  However, for passenger and rollover safety, it scores just a 3.  What was the rollover figure for the legendary Suzuki Samurai, is a 3 acceptable?  I’m not sure.  On the gas mileage front, the Smart Car gets 33MPG city and 41MPG highway. I have to say, this figure shocked me the most. For the expense of the car and all the hype, I thought the gas mileage would’ve been much better.  Smart is coming out with the Smart EV (now in a pilot test in the UK), perhaps I’ll have to wait for this model to come to the U.S.

I then started to wonder, how does the Smart Car compare to other cars on the mileage front?  Well, the Mini Cooper gets 28MPG city/37MPG highway, the Honda Fit 27MPG city/33MPG highway, and the Toyota Yaris (2 door) 29MPG city/ 36MPG highway.  All about the same.  The real difference in my mind is parking – no other 2 person vehicle in the U.S. boasts such parallel parking opportunities.  The Smart Car is just 106.1 inches long, whereas the Mini is 145.6 inches, the Honda Fit 161.6 inches, and the Toyota Yaris is 150.6 inches.  This, in my opinion, is the answer to why people will pay the Smart Car Price – it’s simply a fantastic parking solution.


Andy Y

About the Author

Andy Y is an automotive expert at RepairPal, the leading online source of auto repair resources and estimates. With many ASE Master certified mechanics on staff who have decades of experience, RepairPal knows all the fine points of car repair.

1 User Comment

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By , February 10, 2010
I have a 2008 smart and live in San Francisco. This car is fun to park as I fit in many spots that were only used by motorcycles in the past. Smart can also turn around on a dime, hence I rarely have to do a 3-point. It sure beats driving my Hummer when I need to park on the street. Cheers