I have been a car enthusiast for many years and have owned more cars of all makes than I can remember. I have never owned a smartcar ,but recently have become interested in them when my neice decided that this was the buggy for her.
So,after many trips to smartcar dealers ,and a lot of research she is now the proud owner of a used Forfour 1.5 diesel which I believe is probably the all round best smatcar that was built,I think Its four-seat layout makes it more practical than the rest of the company's range, which only have two seats. In addition, it's the best Smart to drive, with better handling than some of the other models, plenty of grip and accurate steering. It also has what I think is very good styling , both inside and out, and the build quality is very solid. The biggest drawback for me was price,this model is not cheap,despite the fact that they were discontinued in 2006, and the fact that as this model has a mercedes engine any subsequent non warranty work will be ...expensive ! However to be fair it has to be said that apart from engine repairs running costs are low, 50mpg is definitely a plus, also it is an excellent short haul /town car , easy to park and with enough room for the weekly supermarket trip, and talking of shopping leads me on to room in the boot, the rear seat slides back and forward, so with no rear passengers there is plenty of room for shopping , but with two people in the back ant the seat pushed back for maximum leg room there is very little space left in the boot , not enough for a weekend trip for four.
One last observation, this is just a personal opinion, but I would not wish to have any of the smaller engined models, after a few road tests I realy felt they were underpowered for anything other than town use , which is why we settled on the 1.5 diesel , now she can visit her gran who lives 30 miles away, and she can drive me there..ooooh happy!
After a whole year of annoying driving lessons I had finally passed my driving test and it was time to find myself a driving machine! I had always dreamed of owning a Smart Car however the thought of only having two seats put me off slightly as outings with friends and holidays with luggage would have always been a problem with me, this is when I discovered the Smart ForFour. I had often seen the strange Smart ForFour driving around every now and then but I had never associated them with the Smart brand as I don't ever recall seeing them advertised and they were only produced for a short while before being discontinued.
I went to view this lovely car before purchase and I must say that I was instantly impressed. I had searched many new cars within my £6000 budget but there were very few around and not one of them impressed me with the build quality, looks or performance that they had to offer. The idea of a ForFour came along one day and I went to view it in a small garage close to home. I picked the all silver model with leather seats, a 1.5L CDI diesel engine and many other little extras. The best thing about the car I had found was the mileage, for a five year old car it only had 11,000 miles and it looked like new. A quick £5000 later and I was driving home in my lovely (New- ish) Smart car. I was very happy with the price as after doing some research on the good old internet I had discovered that my particular model with its extras would have cost over double what I paid for it only 11,000 miles earlier.
*** Exterior ***
In my opinion the outside of the car is very nicely designed. It has many rounded corners and fancy features that make it look very original. My car is the all silver model and it does not have the two tone colours like most smart cars, I prefer it to be all one colour but I have seen some very nice combinations driving around since owning this car. The Smart cars are built out of plastic panels fitted to the strong frame but they feel of a very good quality and after owning this car for almost a year I can confirm that nothing has fallen off and I'm not the most careful of drivers when it comes to looking after my vehicle so it must be well designed.
People always get the impression that any car named Smart will be small, light etc. This car from the outside is about the same size as a Ford fiesta and in all honesty it is much roomier inside than most of a similar size. The Smart ForTwo is the main small car around but the ForFour Smart cars them to the next level which allows a Smart to be used as a main family car keeping the unusual looks along with the fantastic handling and fuel economy. The slightly small design makes parking a breeze which is great for me as I would struggle parking anything larger than this.
The windows on my car are very slightly tinted which helps to block out some of the suns glare when driving and the roof is all glass. The glass roof looks absolutely stunning and it is definitely one of the cars nicest features as it creates a very bright and cheerful interior. The roof is nicely curved which also adds to the nice looks of the car and it also plays its part in the Smart cars special 'Safety cell', which protects the occupants in the event of a collision. This car scored 4 stars out of 5 for safety and this is very good considering how apparently light and small these cars are compared to some with much lower safety ratings!
*** Interior ***
The interior is very nice with a fantastically large dash board which is very fancily designed being slightly curved and is soft to the touch being covered in some sort of hard wearing grey cloth. There is a nice little storage shelf built in with the normal glove box underneath and there is also a large well built into the rear of the dash board for storing things, I do not use this as the items can reflect on the windscreen. The feeling you get about the car as soon as you sit inside is the instant feel of quality and of a car that is extremely well built, there are no squeaks or creaks inside this car! Everything is extremely solid and well-built from the outside to the inside and it all has a touch of style.
The dash also has all of the cars extra controls fitted such as air conditioning control, the standard Smart radio with the CD player built in and various comfort controls such as heated seat buttons. The centre between the two front seats is the usually standard home of the handbrake, electric window buttons and two cup holders which seem to work well, my only very minor complaints about this car is the cup holder in the front..... There are two holes obviously for the drivers and the passenger's cups however, when one cup is in there it's almost impossible to out another in due to the way it has been designed. Smart should have just built one in the centre as you will only ever get one cup in the thing! Also this is very minor and probably would not matter to most but the radio does not have the jack connection to connect an iPod into the system, this is a slight shame but I got over the problem by buying myself an FM transmitter for my iPod and I'm now driving with music that I want :) I can say that the speakers fitted give a rather good quality sound and they are quite loud which helps over ride my voice to the people outside as I sing along! Hehe.
The carpet fitted inside is of a very good quality and it certainly is not the usual cheap quality carpet fitted to some cars - the type that holds onto sand and hairs for dear life! The carpet is very easy to keep clean but mine did come with some very nice rubber mats that definitely help keeping the car clean. They also wash rather well as I found out after a spillage of McDonalds coke which lifted instantly with a bit of elbow grease (I've now learnt to never eat in the car again)
The seats in mine are a black leather and they are heated, a quick press of the button and voila... a heated bottom! The leather seems to be very good and there are no signs of wear on mine after roughly 25,000 miles in my ownership. I prefer leather seats in cars as they are very easy to clean and they are usually very hard to stain... Nothing beats the smell of the Smart car's leather and that is one thing that I absolutely love about mine... The smell of leather is divine. I find the seats look very nice with some leather protector on them and they are not slippery at all.
The car is called a Smart ForFour, now you would think by the name that it is only meant for four people? Uhuh, mine has a centre rear seat with a seatbelt so I take it as being a 5 seater. Obviously the middle seat is not huge but it never is in any car, I can happily sit in the centre seat for a good few hours so I take it as being a 5 seater. My brother now has a Smart ForFour himself and his is the model before mine and I can confirm that his is a 4 seater so if you are looking for one I'd recommend the newest model possible to ensure that you have an extra seat. The legroom inside is absolutely plentiful and I'm usually rather hard to please being 6ft4, I obviously do not travel much in the back seat as you'll usually find me driving but I have tried it and its been fine, I always have my seat as far back as it can possibly go with passengers in the back and they have never complained so it must be good!
The boot is also rather large for a small car and it's very deep which allows shopping and the odd household appliance to be bought.... I do this a lot! A small shopping trip with my Mother and Sister last week resulted in me buying a load of new furniture and items for my bedroom. Surprisingly I fitted a rather large flat packed cabinet with a large rug, bedding, potted plants and everything else that I bought in the Smart car. It was absolutely full but we never expected to get half of the stuff in, too our surprise we did not have to leave anything behind and the car had impressed use even more once again.
*** What is it like to drive? ***
I have tried many of my friend's cars within the price range of the second hand Smart's and in my opinion it is one of the best cars to drive. I'm not a fan of driving and in all honesty I generally hate it but the Smart ForFour makes my journeys far more entertaining and safe. The car handles very much like a go kart and turns on the spot allowing extremely easy parking and great maneuverability. The fantastic handling has got me out of some very sticky situations from other driver's mistakes and I really cannot fault it one bit. The steering is very precise and it feels quality during turns, I find that I can take corners very much quicker than some cars allow and the Smart seems to cling onto the road giving the feeling of safety and general great handling.
The 1.5L CDI engine I believe is manufactured by Mercedes which must be a very good thing! I bought the car almost a year back with 11,000 miles on it and I'm very much nearing the 35,000 mark so as you can tell it has been well used within that year. I have travelled most of the UK in my little Smart car and it has never let me down and I don't believe that it ever will if it's looked after. The engine is extremely smooth for a diesel and I generally get about 45 mpg average fuel economy which is excellent in my opinion, I find that friends with different cars with less performance than this Smart are often filling up twice as much as me. The engine has fantastic power and it can haul the fully loaded car uphill with ease, being a diesel engine in a rather light car it has fantastic power and I'm often in fifth gear at 30mph with no problems which I guess helps to save fuel.
The torque of this rather large engine is fantastic and it makes hill starts and general pulling away a breeze. I find it extremely hard to stall this car which often saves me from embarrassment in some situations when I accidently lift the clutch too fast, the car seems to love to drive!
The brakes in the car are fantastic and it is of course fitted with ABS for safety. The car can stop rather well and the ABS only seems to kick in when it needs to. I have driven the car in icy conditions a few times and it seems absolutely fine if you're careful.
*** Overall opinion ***
I used to hate driving my various driving instructors cars and I had an instant dislike towards driving until I bought this lovely car, I have total confidence in it and the car has helped me to slightly overcome my fear of driving. It's a safe little car with fantastic performance and it surprisingly has loads of room inside with a hint of style. The seats are extremely comfy and the all have headrests which improve safety and comfort as well as arm rests on every seat (The rear arm rests are built into the doors). It has not let me down yet and I very much doubt that it will, I took it for the MOT a little while back and the inspector said he hardly ever sees them around and he said it's a shame as they are so well built that they would outperform and outlast most cheaply built cars on the market today. Mine came from the MOT without one fault and passed with flying colours luckily.
The servicing is very easy to do such as checking oil and refilling water etc. The open bonnet levre is by the passenger seat and once open everything you could possibly want to touch or play with is on display! I'm no mechanic but I should think that these are easy to work on and I even managed to change the oil with my Father so it must be rather simple.
Well done Smart for creating such a lovely creature but shame on you for discontinuing them! The parts however are still available from Smart so don't ever let that put you off buying one of these, they are truly fantastic and they are a joy to drive as much as being a passenger in one. I have become very attached to my car which I have now called 'Bruno' and I certainly will not be selling him for a good while yet, if I ever do sell him there's a good chance that I will buy the Smart ForFour Brabus version with a little extra power but I cannot fault the one that I already have.
Thanks for reading!