Wednesday, May 14, 2008


we booked a flexicar for today since we needed one for tonite (to go meet zac's nan for dinner). flexicar had a special deal on for 24 hires so we decided to do that since it would just be slightly more money than hiring it for the 3 1/2 hours we would need it for dinner. the cars at the 3 closest locations we normally book at were already taken during the time we needed (that's why you book more than a day in advance for long bookings) so zac booked a different car near my work which happened to be a 4 door smart car instead of the usual honda jazz cars that we normally get. i've actually wanted to try one of these out. i got in, figured out the wipers (there was dew still on all the windows) and the air and thought i was ready to go. then i looked down and saw this knob: not automatic looking but not manual looking either. i stared at it a minute. it would have to be automatic cuz all flexicars are automatic. i turned it on and move the stick from the N (which i knew would be neutral) to the A which i assumed meant automatic. it worked. i rolled the couple meters to the stop sign and prepared to turn left onto a major road (which fortunately isn't too busy this part of the day). i flicked the wipers on trying to put the turn signal on (that's when i realized the turn signal was opposit of the the honda jazz and most other cars i have driven here because its a european design). i got onto the road and stepped on the gas to accelerate. the car didn't really gain much speed and felt like it was only gonna go at this slow speed. i quickly turned off at the first side street (where a guy that turned behind me quickly overtook me). i kept moving slowly, trying to figure the whole thing out (and while i'm doing this both the front and rear wipers are going on different settings (and completely unnecessary now) and i can't figure out how to get them off. i finally found an angle spot to park in on the other side of a round about (and then realized now i was going to have to try to reverse out). i played with different dials until i finally figured out which ones were front wipers and rear wipers and which way meant off. then i flipped thru the flexicar book and found that they'd attached a tiny smart car operating manual in the back (yea!). pretty much decided i was doing everything right, i just needed to slow down on accelerating because it was going to act a bit like a manual in changing gears even when i had it in the fully automated setting (A). i went to reverse. i had to back up a slight slope to get out of the space. when i took my foot off the break i'd roll forward. i was a bit scared to put much gas on in case the R setting wasn't working right and i'd go right over the curb (or kerb as they spell it in oz). after a couple tries i gave it more gas and it went back (so it runs a lot like a manual, which i've only driven about 3 times in my life and the last time would have been almost 7 years ago). the drive home was a bit terrifying but i started to get the hang of it. it just has a very manual feel to it and is slow to change gears and you need to be very light on the acceleration. i drove out to ivanhoe later and started to feel quite comfortable in it (other than one minor incident in an underground car park where i backed up to straighten out and then couldn't get it to go into any gear (either A or using the up arrow to go up to 1 from the 0 the dash display was telling me). i got it though and the man i was holding up because of this waited patiently. not sure how much i really like the smart car. the slow acceleration and gear change is a bit tough to get used to. maybe its better in the partially manual setting (or if you can get fully manual smart cars).

No comments: