Today I’ve had the pleasure and the displeasure to have the New Smart ForFour for the day as a loan car and thought I’d write a review. So here’s my new Smart forfour review.
The model I drove today is classed as the Edition #1 and is priced at £13,610 on the road, however its not the base model which is £11.620
A full list of prices can be found here if you’re interested and the price has got me thinking before I even drive the car, I’m thinking “Is it really worth this much?”
I arrived at the dealers this morning to pick up the New Smart forFour for the day and deposit my Brabus Smart for a service. So, my first disappointment was Mercedes had plastered it full of stickers advertising to potential owners that they can own this piece of automotive real estate for £149 a month (business users). A great bit of advertising for Mercedes but I felt an bit self conscious driving it but what can you do?
First Impressions of the new Smart ForFour
First impressions other than the signage is this looks a nice little car with its two tone body and nice shiny black alloys. This Smart is Metallic orange and silver grey with an equally bright orange interior which I actually liked but my missus says you need sunglasses to drive it, even in the dark! Aside from the colours the interior is actually quite a nice place to be and its laid out really nicely. Well that’s my first though. More on this in a second.
The dials and light switches are all to hand and the only buttons you really have to stretch for are the hazard warning and door locking buttons which are in the centre of the dashboard. The TV screen does look a little like an afterthought but all Mercedes design of late seems to have had the screens stuck in as an afterthought and all you have to do is look at the A-class, B-class and new C-class to see what I mean, but the one in the smart is touch screen so knocks the other Mercedes screens into a cocked hat as its much easier to use than the one in the A and B-class with its control wheel.
The plastics are a mixture of really nice tactile plastics and what feels like recycled Milk tray chocolate trays but these are mostly down low in the cabin. I do love the shape of the air vents which look like something from outer space.
The dashboard material is a type of cloth, don’t know what its made of but I get the feeling that its going to get very dirty over the life of the vehicle so I hope its easy to clean but it feels great. Its also well screwed together as the roads round East Cheshire are in a bad condition with plenty of holes and grooves and there are no rattles, squeeks or untoward noises from the interior. The suspension really does a fantastic job of soaking up pot holes big enough to get your head inside!
What’s it like to drive?
After driving the car round for a few hours the only thing about the interior which really began to annoy me was the speedo, as the needle is quite small and you have to look away briefly from the road to see it. I am sure with more familiarisation this would get easier but it is quite small and its not that you’ll notice it move much but I will come on to that in a moment.
The model I’ve been driving is the 71hp (52Kw) 3 cylinder, 999cc engine with a manual gearbox which is the same engine that is fitted to the Smart forTwo MHD model and in this car I can only describe it as adequate for around town but out on the open roads its gutless. I’m a big guy but with just me in the car the engine feels stressed and you have to wring its neck for overtaking or on steep hills.
I took my missus out in the car and drove over the Cat and Fiddle between Macclesfield and Buxton and on two occasions she winced as she can be a nervous passenger sometimes. The first time was when we overtook a slow moving lorry and it took what seemed like an absolute age to get past. The second time was on the A54 between Buxton and Congleton which has several steep hills around the Wildboarclough area and again I had to rev the engine quite hard to gain speed up the hill. I’ve recorded the cars acceleration for you to see in the Youtube video below.
Despite the rather lack lustre acceleration the new Smart forFour handles quite well and I was able to throw it round corners with vigour which was quite handy as I was able to keep speed through corners. Useful when your engine is less willing.
After spending a day driving the car I have to say the forFour has grown on me and its got some nice touches. The rear seats flip over and give you a bench area in the rear and combined with the rear back rests folding down you get quite a large boot for such a small car. Even with the seats up you still get a good size boot at 185 litres or 975 litres with the rear seats down. Its big enough for a weeks shopping for two people but not big enough for my two smallish sized medium dogs. As the Smart engine is in the rear of the car under the boot floor this probably does reduce boot size. The rear legroom is also pretty poor if the driver has the seats right back, I’m 5 foot 11 and I had the seat one notch from the furthest back and you can see in the rear photos below how much legroom is left in the rear.
The sunroof is also fixed and does not open on this model also the rear windows do not go down, they are hinged and pivot at the front of the rear doors. I haven’t seen windows like this since I owned a 3 door 1992 Renault 19!
So would I want to own one?
Well the sticking point for me is the price. The base model is £11,620!!!! and for this money I would expect something special in a little car. This is over a £1000 more than the equivalent powered Skoda Citigo (which I’ve also driven), however it is cheaper than the equivalent VW Up. Don’t get me wrong I would like one, it’s nicely put together and quirky and I like quirky, but there are many other vehicles on the road which I would like more than this, especially with the 70bhp engine I drove today as the only thing which possibly moves slower is continental drift.
Give me a 90bhp turbo or maybe a Brabus model, if Mercedes decide to do one, but for now I’ll stick with my Brabus Smart pocket rocket!