The smart car uses an automated manual transmission. The smart car transmission combines the ease of automatic with the flexibility of a manual transmission...
This 5-speed clutchless transmission can be operated in either automatic or semi-manual mode by the driver, with the flip of a switch. Here's how it works...
Automatic - Engage transmission in automatic mode by shifting the console stick to D-Drive and let the transmission shift for you.
Manual - Engage the manual transmission mode by clicking the stick to the left side when in Drive and then manually shifting the gears up or down, using the stick or the shift paddles located on the steering wheel.
Here's a tip to help you with the smart car's manual transmission if you already know how to drive a stick...
Put your left leg on the floor and do not use it.
When you need to shift, push down on your left foot just like you would engage the clutch (I call this a "fake" clutch).
Next, let up on the gas peddle with your right foot, just like you normally would in a stick.
Use the stick on the floor and push it up to "climb" up in gears or push down to lower the gears.
This technique will allow you to keep your "stick shifting" technique smooth that you are accustomed to performing. My wife, Kathi, thinks it's kind of silly that I still fake the clutch, but it helps me stay in sync as I shift. She just uses her hands on the stick, though!
Anyway... If you don't know how to work a clutch, then just remember to let up on the gas before you shift the stick and then give it gas while using your right foot after you shift gears.
Even if you've never driven a stick shift before, you can drive in manual mode in a smart car, trust me. Without the need for the synchronization of clutch, gas and gears, using a smart car stick shift is super easy. And if you don't like to have your right hand on the stick (and not on the wheel), then try the paddle shifters. They're even easier.
I found that the automated manual transmission was fairly easy to use, though the actual shifting of the smart can transmission was a bit sluggish at times. With the paddle shifters, though, it was smooth sailing!
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