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VW Beetle or Smart Car? Which is the better choice?
sandy at 5:01PM, Aug. 21, 2008
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I'm soon to get my liscense and I am inheriting a 1994 Plymouth Grand Voyager minivan as my first car simply because my father is no longer able to drive it due to Parkinsons' disease. It has a great engine but the chasse is looking a bit worse for ware. I know it'll be around for a few more years before it falls apart, but I have been doing some homework on some other vehicular choices to fall back on just in case it literally falls apart when I'm driving it. I've considered two cars as possible choices. One, A previously owned new version VW Beetle, or go with the Mercedies Smart Car. Both are compact, and fuel efficiant. Saftey wise, both cars seem to have a good crash test record, and I like the fact that they can be parked almost anywhere, versus a large vehicle which needs a wider parking space, and sinks fifty bucks into it's gas tank every week.

Now here's the question. With both of my choices being reasonable in gas mileage, and saftey,which car would be a better choice?

last edited on July 14, 2011 3:22PM
SpANG at 7:17PM, Aug. 21, 2008
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The Mercedes Smart Car has the same safety rating as a Mercedes E-Class? Wow.
“To a rational mind, nothing is inexplicable. Only unexplained.”
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:53PM
JoeL_CQB at 10:22PM, Aug. 21, 2008
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smart car.

you can drift it and it can outrun a ferrari.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:10PM
Kugai at 12:40AM, Aug. 22, 2008
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I kinda like the Smart Car, it's a good little runner. The new VW? ….. Not too sure on. OK, LOOKS kinda like the classic Beetle, but I really feel that you can't call it a Beetle - The engines in the front! :D

Me, I like my 1990 Nissan Largo van. It's a ‘People Mover’ type, but it works also as a working van and she's been economical on fuel even though she's a 2 litre.
James The Kiwi

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last edited on July 14, 2011 1:24PM
skoolmunkee at 3:50AM, Aug. 22, 2008
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Smart cars are tiny. There's no backseat and only a very tiny (and mostly vertical) trunk area. They will fit you and one passenger, if you are both average size or smaller. If you only need the car to get to/from work or things like that, it's probably fine, but if you end up needing to drive other people around, buy large things and bring them home, etc, a smart car won't do it. there are lots of them here in England but people never take them on the motorway, so I'm not sure how suited to highway driving a smart car is. They are safe in crashes, but I'm not sure how they'd handle in adverse weather. They don't seem like they have much weight.

I do like smart cars, but they're basically specialized as ‘commuting’ cars, just little runners for people who end up driving by themselves to most places and don't need much out of a car. It seems like with a beetle you'd have a little more flexibility.
  IT'S OLD BATMAN
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:41PM
SpANG at 6:28AM, Aug. 22, 2008
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Smart Cars come in a 4 door model as well. So the size thing isn't that big an issue if you want more room. ;)

“To a rational mind, nothing is inexplicable. Only unexplained.”
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:53PM
skoolmunkee at 12:34PM, Aug. 22, 2008
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Yes, there's a sports car version too :) But he didn't specify, and usually that means the basic Richard Scaary apple-car model.
  IT'S OLD BATMAN
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:41PM
spiritmonkey at 3:13PM, Aug. 22, 2008
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JoeL_CQB
smart car.

you can drift it and it can outrun a ferrari.

He's not going to be racing the thing…

I'd choose the beetle, simply because I love the look of them
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last edited on July 14, 2011 3:54PM
sandy at 8:45PM, Aug. 22, 2008
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The more I see the beetles on the road, the more I want one. I hear nothing but great things about them, only thing is, do they take Super unleaded fuel or standard uleaded?
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:22PM
skoolmunkee at 4:24AM, Aug. 23, 2008
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sandy
The more I see the beetles on the road, the more I want one. I hear nothing but great things about them, only thing is, do they take Super unleaded fuel or standard uleaded?

I'm sure there are better ways to find out than asking a comics forum :)
  IT'S OLD BATMAN
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:41PM
SpANG at 7:20AM, Aug. 23, 2008
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If fuel is a real concern, check out the Aptera. 300 MPG!!!

So what if it looks like a sperm on wheels, I just might get one. :)

“To a rational mind, nothing is inexplicable. Only unexplained.”
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:53PM
ozoneocean at 9:04AM, Aug. 23, 2008
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In another colour other than white and with four wheels rather than three… then maybe.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:32PM
SpANG at 11:27AM, Aug. 23, 2008
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ozoneocean
In another colour other than white and with four wheels rather than three… then maybe.
With 3 wheels there is less surface contact (less rolling resistance), less weight and less moving parts. It adds to the fuel efficiency. Also, because of the 3 wheels, Aptera is classified as a motorcycle rather than a car. Among other things, you can get into the car pool lane because of that. ;)

It's also made of mostly recycled plastic.

However, it's only initially being released in California, and it's not tested for winter climates. :(
“To a rational mind, nothing is inexplicable. Only unexplained.”
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:53PM
ozoneocean at 12:58PM, Aug. 23, 2008
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I wouldn't care about the minor loss of fuel efficiency and the car classification, another colour and another wheel would make it perfect. It's well worth the sacrifice :)

Besides, three wheels are less safe than either two or four.
-(you don't have the balance that two have and you don't have the redundant stability of four.)
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:32PM
skoolmunkee at 1:52PM, Aug. 23, 2008
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Mustn't forget hybrid or alternative fuel cars :)
  IT'S OLD BATMAN
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:41PM
radarig at 3:02PM, Aug. 23, 2008
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sandy
The more I see the beetles on the road, the more I want one. I hear nothing but great things about them, only thing is, do they take Super unleaded fuel or standard uleaded?

High-MPG 4-cylinder cars tend to need super for maximum mileage, but if you do the math you still come out a ton better than a traditional 6-cylinder. I would assume the Smart takes Super, but not sure about the Beetle.

My beef with VW is that their newer models tend to be problem-prone; I just saw a survey of car companies that had them in the bottom half of manufacturers for reliability over the first five years (I believe). As for the reliability of the SmartCar, I have no idea.

Have you looked at Toyotas? We just bought a 2004 Matrix and have really enjoyed it; it gets 35MPG Highway with much more power than you would expect from a 4-Cyl. Plus Toyota is always in the very top for reliability.

But anyway, like ozone said (I think), this isn't the best place to find information, heh. Go read reviews for the cars you're looking at! edmunds.com is a really good site, but there are many others.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:58PM
SpANG at 6:56PM, Aug. 23, 2008
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ozoneocean
I wouldn't care about the minor loss of fuel efficiency and the car classification, another colour and another wheel would make it perfect. It's well worth the sacrifice :)

Besides, three wheels are less safe than either two or four.
-(you don't have the balance that two have and you don't have the redundant stability of four.)
I fail to see your “ozone logic”, but it's cool. Not for everyone. ;)
“To a rational mind, nothing is inexplicable. Only unexplained.”
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:53PM
ozoneocean at 2:07AM, Aug. 24, 2008
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Three wheel configurations have proved unsafe on cars in the past ;)

But in general the “Ozone logic” is sound: The vehicle is unappealing, mainly due to its weird spermynesss. Make a four wheel version and give it pretty colours though and peeps will find it both familiar enough to relate to and special enough to be extremely funky.

Contrary to the idea that people are logical beings that only think in terms of what works best, we're really more superficial than that. Make a minor concession to the superficial and they'll have a massive success. :)
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:32PM
skoolmunkee at 4:53AM, Aug. 24, 2008
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Yes, it's been proven that the side mirrors, if placed further down the hood, give much better visibility. But people don't like them there, so manufacturers keep putting them where they are.
  IT'S OLD BATMAN
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:41PM
SpANG at 8:10PM, Aug. 24, 2008
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ozoneocean
Three wheel configurations have proved unsafe on cars in the past ;)
True enough. In the past. With single front wheels. Like a chopper.
http://blog.autospeed.com/2007/11/13/three-wheel-cars/
As it turns out, there was a strong distinction between 4-wheel cars and single-front-wheel cars but not single-rear-wheel cars.
There is more to stability than how many wheels, too. You also need to look at the Center of gravity and track width. This thing is as safe as any 4 wheeled car. Though I will admit that changing the tire might be a pain. ;)

The fact that you think it's unappealing doesn't make it a fact that nobody does. I'm sure it will be in many other colors, but I like the 3 wheel look myself. A lot of people think it's cool. Pluss… 300 MPG! And all that for under $30,000. They'll have massive success anyway. :)

Sorry for going off tangent…
“To a rational mind, nothing is inexplicable. Only unexplained.”
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:53PM
lba at 8:50PM, Aug. 24, 2008
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The VW will likely cost you less to purchase and maintain due to the fact that relatively they're much more common. Either one is going to cost a bit to maintain though because they're foreign cars ( Assuming you live in the US. ). For that matter, any foreign car will cost you significantly more to maintain over it's life time and some of them might cost enough extra that the gas mileage isn't worth it.

Most engines don't get better mileage with higher octane fuel. It burns faster and hotter generally, hence the higher octane rating. I've yet to find a car that got better mileage with the ultra grade than with plain old regular. Usually, in my experience they suggest the higher octane fuel because it's cleaner burning and carbon build up can really screw a smaller engine big time and it just helps keep the car running longer.

That being said, there are some cars out there that get better fuel mileage with a bigger engine. My old ‘97 Dodge stratus with a 6 cylinder got 21 mpg in city while my most recent car; a ’04 Stratus with a 4 cylinder got 19 mpg city. Everything about the cars is otherwise identical. The reason being the Stratus' weight and size. The smaller engine just has to push twice as hard to get the car moving at the same rate as the rest of traffic.

My suggestion would be to look into some of the newer American cars coming out. The new Chevy Cobalt or Aveo has a model that rivals the mileage of the matrix or Honda civic. Similarly, Ford has a model of the Focus that does the same, and it comes with Ford's almost legendary reputation for reliability. Those two cars might not get quite the same mileage as the smart car but they'll come close to the VW or equal it while being cheaper to maintain, repair and carrying twice as much easily.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:29PM
ozoneocean at 9:19PM, Aug. 24, 2008
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SpANG
but I like the 3 wheel look myself.
I can just picture you tootling around the place in one of those; Little doggy nestled safely in a manbag on the seat beside you, peeping out above the dash… :)

The design reminds me of the solar powered cars that are made to look that way for the same reasons. It'd be good if it had solar panels to add to the power it gets from the mains. Make it even cheaper to run ;)
But three wheels… -_-
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:32PM
SpANG at 7:44AM, Aug. 25, 2008
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ozoneocean
SpANG
but I like the 3 wheel look myself.
I can just picture you tootling around the place in one of those; Little doggy nestled safely in a manbag on the seat beside you, peeping out above the dash… :)
Yeah… I'M the gay one, beret man. Oh, that reminds me, I need to get my man bag re-laced. :)

The solar powered cars of the 80's were seriously ugly and flat. IS that what you are talking about? The Aptera has much more style than that. but it actually DOES have solar panels on the top that work the climate control, even when the car is off. That's another cool feature. You'll never have a hot, sweltering car to get into.

“To a rational mind, nothing is inexplicable. Only unexplained.”
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:53PM
ozoneocean at 8:04AM, Aug. 25, 2008
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lol! I didn't say anything about gay :P

No, I don't mean the ugly cars, I mean all the funky aerodynamic models they have in the big races. You get all different shapes and sizes :)
————-

UGH! Looking at pics of them on Google image search, there are a lot of Fugly ones… Shame, I remember that there used to be a lot of cool ones as well. It's harder to find pics of those.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:32PM
JoeL_CQB at 2:39PM, Aug. 25, 2008
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last edited on July 14, 2011 1:10PM
radarig at 10:05AM, Aug. 30, 2008
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lba
Most engines don't get better mileage with higher octane fuel. It burns faster and hotter generally, hence the higher octane rating. I've yet to find a car that got better mileage with the ultra grade than with plain old regular. Usually, in my experience they suggest the higher octane fuel because it's cleaner burning and carbon build up can really screw a smaller engine big time and it just helps keep the car running longer.

Engines with a higher compression rating need higher octane gas to run at peak efficiency/MPG. Many modern high-MPG models have have their compression that high so that they can give good performance with a 4-cyl engine. Older four-cyls feel like they're underpowered, but many of the newer ones feel similar to six-cyls. If you try to put 87 octane in them you'll lose about 7-10 MPG depending on your model.

lba
Similarly, Ford has a model of the Focus that does the same, and it comes with Ford's almost legendary reputation for reliability.

Um, what?
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:58PM
lba at 10:26AM, Aug. 30, 2008
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I've got a newer model 4 cylinder and the only difference I get is that I get 1-2 miles per gallon less on higher octane fuel but better acceleration. I've never driven a car which got better mileage at higher octane, even with higher compression. Granted, I've never driven anything like a Prius that is designed with a far higher compression level, but in my experience American cars get the most economical mileage to cost ratio from regular fuel.

As for the Focus, there is a model of the Ford Focus that gets comparable mileage to a Honda Civic, and Ford has a good reputation for reliability, especially in their sedans, compact cars and trucks. And the Focus is a relatively easy to maintain vehicle. If I remember correctly, you can even get a hybrid model of it.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:29PM
radarig at 10:30PM, Aug. 30, 2008
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I have never heard the words “Ford” and “reliability” mentioned in the same sentence. If you intend on taking one past 50,000 miles you should be prepared to replace everything in it of value multiple times.

I think the fuel depends on the car, which is definitely something you should be looking into as you shop. My Toyota Matrix needs 92 for the reasons I gave in the last post, high compression. Toyota is doing a lot of that in their new models to help with fuel econ, and it wouldn't surprise me if that goes industry-wide if it hasn't already.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:58PM

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