What is Smart's automated manual transmission?

Smart car indicates it has a five-speed automatic transmission. What does this mean, exactly?

DG, Harrisburg, Pa.

The Smart’s transmission is not a traditional five-speed automatic, it’s an automated manual that’s similar to a manual transmission but is driven like an automatic, meaning there’s no clutch pedal. It can be driven in either a fully automatic drive mode or a manual mode. When in manual mode, Smart drivers use a plus/minus gate on the gearshift — or, in the uplevel Passion trim, paddles on the wheel — to shift up or down.

Even though when it’s in automatic mode the Smart car is driven like any other automatic car, it isn’t a true automatic. That means the Smart’s is not the smoothest transmission when driven this way. Many of the Cars.com review team and staffers have been jerked around by the Smart and its rough gear changes.

In his review of the Smart ForTwo, Cars.com reviewer Kelsey Mays says about the automated manual transmission, “What that means is that you drive the ForTwo like you would a regular automatic, but the transmission lurches through gear changes with the awkwardness of a 15-year-old learning stick on his brother's Corolla.”

Many of us have found a trick to driving the Smart smoothly. According to Kelsey, “Let off the gas slightly at each shift, like you would while driving a stick, and the gear changes are much smoother (though still not very fast). It's hard to tell when the shifts will occur with the transmission in Drive, so smooth acceleration requires using the gearshift's manual mode. There's a plus/minus gate on the shifter, while the Passion adds shift paddles on the steering wheel.”

Learn more

Answered by Joe Bruzek on January 31, 2008 in I'm Just Wondering | Permalink

Search Results

Ask.cars.com Search Results for

Search

See if your question has already been asked and answered

Thank You!

Your question has been successfully submitted to Ask.cars.com. It will now be reviewed by our editors and we'll answer it soon if we think it's a useful question. You will be notified via e-mail when the answer is posted. Ask.cars.com tackles your questions about new cars and the car-buying process. Unfortunately we can't answer questions regarding:

  • Used cars.
  • Most aftermarket products.
  • Mechanical issues. You can visit our friends at Car Talk to discuss your mechanical problems.
Thanks for your interest.

Ask

Have our experts answer any of your questions about new cars.

Email us at tips@cars.com

Maintenance Advice
Get answers from the
Car Talk Community