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In Europe, Smart on June 13, 2011 at 11:22 pm

 

Garden Tool

Meet the wackiest car I ever owned.

A Smart Crossblade.  Designed by Smart to promote the brand it was eventually launched as part of the innovative “For Two” range.

The car never hit the planned production targets.

Could that possibly be down to the lack of doors, no roof, and no windows?

Even the nifty little “windscreen” was just a decoration that sent the wind straight into your face.

The Crossblade is the car that gave me more motoring pleasure than any other machine in nigh on 1 million miles of motoring.  Sadly it also gave me an equal measure of displeasure.

The Good News

Every journey was an event.

Most of the time I travelled “unprotected”, but on wet days I used a crash helmet.  Even wearing a crash hat in a road car is unusual, so that didn’t spoil the fun.

On the day I took a test drive I was so excited by the “wind in your hair” experience that I couldn’t resist shelling out £7200 for this impractical machine.

Amazingly for such a small car there was pretty decent sized boot, and being left hand drive it trumped “ordinary Smarts” with a great driving position, and supremely comfortable seats.  On the days when I drove it over 400 miles I was totally comfortable behind the wheel.

Visibility was pretty good, and being able to indicate with your feet was a great pleasure.

The Bad News

Realistically the Smart brand is one enormous Mercedes Benz confidence trick.  Forget all the claims, these little machines were not built to a high standard.

The suspension was totally thrown by the bumps and potholes of British roads.  Those wide tyres would lose grip at the slightest irregularity.  Driving quickly on the quieter back roads of Spain and Portugal I found the car gripped well on smooth tarmac, whilst inspiring terrific confidence.

The trouble was most of our 14,000 miles together were on Britain’s black stuff.  Hot any bump and the primitive traction control would chime in cutting power dramatically.

Garden Tool

The heater was pretty poor.  The only way to get warm on a cold day was run alongside a juggernaut.  The air pressure from the lorry would act as an invisible barrier to hot air escaping under the supercar style upward opening side bars.

Whilst the Xenons were bright they dazzled on coming traffic, which made me unpopular.  Reliablity was poor, with several weeks off the road due to unavailability of spare tyres, and break pipe corrosion and parts shortages.

In 30 months on the road the car certainly got grimy, and I was surprised to only get £3600 for it after 30 months.

Performance was poor.  My son could make an ancient Renault 4 accelerate more quickly than the slurry softouch auto. This 600 c.c. machine also failed to attain more than 36 mpg on super unleaded.  That’s hopeless.

Highlights

A solitary journey through the Pico d’Europa national park in Northern Spain, and hearing and seeing new birds like the Nightingale in Portugal was really special.  Driving a Crossblade makes you feel “connected” with natural world like no other car.

Overtaking cars in a thunderstorm on the A303 was another stand out memory.  People were just staggered by the nutter flying passed.

Incredibly I even “pulled” in The Smart. An attractive young girl at a petrol station jumped in and demanded I take her for a drive.  I’d never seen her before in my life.

I suppose that is indicative of Smart for Twos.  People love them, and want to be part of the action.

Why did I get rid of it?

One Christmas a friend asked to buy it, and the frustrations and expense of this plastic plaything had finally gotten to me. Ultimately this was a machine that was crying out for a proper gearbox, and de-restricted engine.

Believe me an 83mph top speed is too slow for a “sports car”.

Chunnel Crossing Crossblade

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