By far the biggest complaint about the smart city-coupe and the roadster by know-nothing journalists was the slow and jerky gear change. It's not a view I share personally.
When the gearbox is new it can be a bit clinical but as it ages it smoothes out a lot.
The normal gear change takes about 0.6 seconds, through 6 gears you have 5 changes equalling 3 seconds.
3 seconds is a long time and taking that off the 0-60 time makes it look a lot better.
Once you are used to the gearbox you can learn to read the road and play the gearbox a little earlier giving you the opportunity to keep in the boost range.
It's not something you learn in an hour which is why car journalists don't like the smart.
So why is there a wait during gear change?
On changing gear the ECU has to lift the clutch plate, change up to the next
gear, balance the car speed, maintain the revs, open the waste gate, equalise
the boost pressure and drop the clutch plate.
That is just a basic overview, there is a lot going on.
Who is to blame for this weakness?
Some would say Getrag because they build them
but that's like blaming the manager when a football team play crap.
I would blame Getrag if all their other products were of the same quality but they aren't, their gearboxes and transaxles can be found on some amazing cars with no complaints at all. In 2001 they designed a gearbox that can change gear in 0.06 seconds, that's 6 gear changes in half the time of 1 smart gear change!
It's 100% down to smart, they wanted a 'box on a budget and Getrag did what they could.
Smart obviously wasn't too bothered about quick changes as the smart was supposed to be a city car, not a performance vehicle.
What's next then?
I would imagine that smart are reeling from the bashing about the gearbox, they tried a few tricks with the ECU which sped the change up a bit but no where near enough to make anyone happy, least of all the journos.
I can see that the 2007 smart will have a much quicker gearbox made by Getrag, obviously not a DSG as found on the Audi TT but something to keep the journos and modifiers happy.
What about people with the old gear box?
At the moment it's tuff I'm afraid. There have been rumours galore floating round about the 'Quik-Box' by BIG Performance but as yet there is no hard evidence or product. The same can be said about a modification being produced by Jack Knight Developments, I have contacted JKD to confirm this but until I hear it from them it's all here-say.
Precision is fun™
One of the world's leading manufacturers of powertrain technology.
Founded in Ludwigsburg, Germany in 1935