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Road trip in the Smart Car

I’m on the road, heading north on US 27 along the west side of Lake Okeechobee, in someone else’s car. It is not a Corvette. I know this because when I take off from a stop in one of the small towns along the highway, the automatic transmission chugs and hesitates each time it changes gears. I count six gear changes between 0 and 60 mph, and it takes about a minute and a half to get there. No, not really. Edmunds.com put the 0-60 time at 14.1 seconds, and my time is undoubtedly slower because I’m not driving it with any finesse, but it feels like 90 seconds. The last Corvette I drove made it from 0-60 in 3.9 seconds.

I’m in a Smart Car Passion Cabriolet. One of those tiny but cute two-seaters that looks like it lost its rear end. The Smart Car people, with no provocation on my part, offered to lend me one. The car is touted for its utility in running errands around town, but road trips are what I do, and so I’ve taken it on the road.

The other reason I know it’s not a Corvette is that it’s comfortable. Yes, it’s a tiny car – 106 inches long -- but it has plenty of leg room, plenty of head room. Plus, I’m sitting higher than I do in a Corvette.

So, when I reach cruising speed, passing sugar cane fields and citrus orchards at 70 mph, I’m happy. Traffic is light, and at times it seems I see more police cars than trucks (which is why I don’t try to reach the car’s top speed of 92 mph). I don’t feel as vulnerable in my tiny car as I feared I would. This is just my first reaction, not a recommendation. Stay tuned for more reports from US 27.