Smart ForFour Hatchback 2004 - 2006

Smart ForFour Hatchback 2004 - 2006

Review by it
Monday, May 16, 2016

Pros:

  • A stylish and good-looking car
  • Very comfortable for a supermini
  • Great diesel option
  • Quite enjoyable to drive

Cons:

  • The price is over the top
  • Stiff suspension
  • Heavy steering at low speeds

Overview

The Smart Forfour shares its platform with Misubishi Colt and Hyundai Getz. In order to be able to offer the car at a lower price, the maker decided to hook up with Mitsubishi, so certain construction elements are very similar to those used in a Colt. As for the low price, it never happened, the car has always been considered overpriced. You’re expected to pay on top for the Smart badge and the seemingly cool design, while from the point of view of performance and technology the extra money cannot be really justified.

Exterior and Interior

In a way the Forfour resembles its much more successful relative, the Fortwo. Same cheeky grin and bi-colour body style. Roofs could be ordered in three styles with solid plastic roof, transparent plastic roof or one with a panoramic sunroof that can be retracted at a push of a button. It may look much cooler than other super-minis, but unfortunately cars don’t sell based solely on the design. The interior, in many cases bi-colour just like the outer design, is fashionable and comfortable. The dashboard may appear rather flat, but that’s done on purpose to free up more space in the cabin. Although it’s a small car, it can actually sit 5 people. It is, however, stretching things to the limits, but 4 adults can travel in a Forfour very comfortably. The boot compartment is quite difficult to access, but once you’re there, it’s a spacious 268litres as a standard and 900litres with rear seats folded. The Forfour is a practical car.

Performance and Economy

The engines are economical, but only when you drive on your own. Add some passengers and you’ll be spending as much money at a petrol station as people driving a ’normal’ car. The smaller petrol engines can theoretically deliver around 50mpg, but the conditions should be close to ideal. The little 1.5-litre diesel engines is very good. Technically, it’s a Mercedes-Benz A-Class’ 4-cylinder common rail diesel with one cylinder sawn off. The new 3-cylinder diesel offers the Smart decent performance and well over 60mpg. When it comes to performance, neither of the engines deliver to match the sporty appearance of the Forfour. The engines are not bad, but for the extra price the Smart is no different from any other supermini out there. The only exception is the Brabus edition, which is an expensive tuned version of the Forfour. It’s 174bhp Mitsubishi engine can take the little car to a 137mph max and the acceleration to 60mph takes only 6.7 seconds (its over 10 seconds for other Forfours).

Like to Drive

It is a solid and modern car with features from both Mercedes and Mitsubishi. To match the sporty image, it was decided to stick with a firm suspension, which is what lets the car down slightly. It would have been better off with something softer. As a result bumpy roads may shake you well, especially at low speeds. During city or slow driving the steering feels heavy, this can affect the ease of parking. Normally, steering softens at low speeds but that’s not the case with the Forfour. The auto gearboxes are jerky and take too much time to find the right gear so it’s better to choose a mechanical gearbox. With the smaller 1.1-litre engine performance will feel sluggish, but the larger engines offer dynamics comparable to other mainstream super-minis. This is nothing to be too proud about, though.

Faults and Repairs

Because the Forfour was not sold in high volumes (although it was anticipated to sell well), there is little data available about its reliability and it rarely appears on reliability surveys. According to private reports, the Forfour is a reliable car. For the things that do go wrong, you might be facing a large repair bill though. Being a hybrid between a Mercedes and a Mitsubishi, the parts are rather expensive.