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Great Smart Car Road Trip: The Smart Versus The Canyon


2011 Smart Fortwo

2011 Smart Fortwo

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When we left off last time I had just accounted my journey with the 2009 Smart ForTwo Passion Cabriolet through the hills of San Francisco. If you missed the full story, be sure to check it out—the jist, however, is that I believe the Smart car is a great in town car where parking isn’t regulated by white lines and parking meters. It is also a pretty good attention getter since people are fascinated that someone one would choose to drive something so small. The city excursion wasn’t the last part of the adventure with the Smart car. Besides the car show that we entered the car into (and took third place) in San Luis Obispo, the last leg of the road trip entailed driving back down the 101, with a slight detour over the pass into Santa Maria, to the curves and hills of Topanga Canyon.

One of the other questions I got asked during my time with the Smart car was whether it was stable. I believed after over 500 miles of travel that I could say the car was indeed stable and safe to drive. The thing I had not had the opportunity to test was how the car handled on curvy roads. Since I had business in Topanga Canyon, I thought it would be the perfect time to test the Smart on the Old Topanga Canyon Road. To my surprise, the Smart was pretty lively, especially when the manual mode for the gearbox was used with the paddle shifters. Sporty might not be the first word you think of when it comes to a Smart, but I will tell you that the car is sporty in the original sense of the word. My guess is that the Smart could definitely hold its own against sports cars from the ‘60s like an Austin Healey, MGB or Triumph TR6.

Bottom line—The Smart really did surprise me again, it handles well with a slight bit of understeer, doesn’t have a lot of body roll and steers nicely through the corners. The one negative is that the steering tightens up a little quick giving an awkward feeling as you execute turn in. For some it may cause them to miss the line they want to drive because they aren’t use to the need for additional steering input effort.

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