Andrew Patterson (qidane) wrote,
Andrew Patterson

The first 4 months of Smart motoring

As a placeholder for my annual spending review I thought I would look at the cost of the first few months of owning my new car, a Smart Cabrio and Passion (2002).

First I am liking the car. It is fun, comfortable, has a good heater. For my daily commute it works well. For shopping it works ok, with two people in it you can only just fit in four jute shopping bags, provided you can squash them a bit. With only me you can do a proper shop by filling the passenger seat and footwell too.

Problem items so far have been a large hall mirror that I got in behind the seats with the roof down, and a Rug Doctor carpet cleaner that had to be belted into the passenger seat.

For longer journeys about Scotland on the A-roads it is not great. The ride is very hard, the wheels close together and the tyres small. This means it does not like speed bumps, potholes, or poor road surfaces. There are a lot of these just driving about between places in Scotland. I have done a couple of trips to Edinburgh and these are not too bad, just a couple of places where you need to watch for sudden cross winds as it does make the car lurch alarmingly.

I have done one long road trip to Herefordshire. This was for Tom and Claire's party, followed by a visit to Lisa in Shropshire. I would not recommend doing this in a Smart but with job uncertainty I went for the cheapest travel option. I did just under 1000 miles over the few days. Ok, the Smart is not designed for this but I got it to work. My large (long and thin) rolling case completely fills the boot. I had other thinks like shoe/boot bags and computer bag in the front footwell and on the passenger seat, all topped with my big coat and a jute shopping bag. In this arrangement it is not great for leaving parked anywhere as it is obviously full of stuff with only has a couple of layers of fabric between your belongings and any ne'er-do-well.

What did surprise me was how well the car worked on the motorways. The road surface there is generally very good and flat which the car likes. I did find that I naturally sat at about 60mph, but the car could be made to sit at 70 if I concentrated. You need to add to a lot to the journey time you get from your route planner.

On to the facts and figures.

I have two sets of miles per gallon figures I have calculated, my typical commute and my long road trip.


This is about 15 miles each way, with 13 miles on A-road and 2 miles in town traffic, plus 5-10 minutes driving round university car parks looking for a space. This worked out at 49 mpg and means a tank of fuel (35l) lasts about 2 weeks.

Road Trip

This was 956 miles. Dundee, Perth, Stirling, Glasgow, M73, M6, A-road though Cheshire/Shropshire/Herefordshire, driving about, then Shropshire/Montgomeryshire/Cheshire, M6, M73, A-road Biggar/Edinburgh and back through Fife. I think about 470 of those where motorway miles. The whole trip cost me £81.71* in fuel and the car did 58 mpg. Not bad as the official figure for a 2002 Smart Cabrio and Passion is 57 mpg.

For comparison my old Volvo managed about 23 mpg commuting, going up to 28 mpg on longer trips.

Cost of ownership

So far, excluding the purchase cost, I have spent £680 in total for 4 month motoring in the Smart, ( Fuel 48%, Repairs - faulty key 22%, Insurance 12%, AA 10%, Tax 4%, Parking 1%) so £5.53 per day.

For comparison the Volvo in the 5.5 years I had it cost me £27,404, excluding purchase price, or £13.69 a day. Over £12,700 of that was fuel.

The annual review of my 2014 spending will happen when I am either settled in a new job or have a too much free time while I look for work.

* You had to pay in advance of getting fuel at one of the motorway stations and they had no way of just letting them hold your payment while you filled the tank, so had to guess how much I needed! Very annoying.
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