By on July 16, 2014

smart_forfour_stereo_0

As an occasional user of Car2Go, I’ve come to believe that the Smart ForTwo is one of the least pleasant vehicles to drive. The car’s lone saving grace is its tiny footprint, which makes it ideal for maneuvering and parking in dense urban areas (the air-cooled 911-style pedals, hinged at the floor, would make the cut, were they not utterly joyless to manipulate). The newest Fortwo, visible below the jump, retains the same profile, but that’s not what I’m interested in.

The all-new Forfour, above, is what does it for me. Yes, it’s a bit bigger than the Fortwo, but that means that you have a bit more room for people and cargo, and don’t look like you’re driving a four-wheeled Kinder Egg. It’s also nearly identical to the Renault Twingo. In an era of increasing homogenity, the idea of a rear-engined economy car is pretty damn cool. Please, Mercedes, bring it to North America.

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71 Comments on “Confession Time: I Want A Smart Forfour...”


  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    Or a Kreindler egg.

    • 0 avatar
      claytori

      This becomes a bit of a Canuk “In” joke. Those neat little Kinder Surprise eggs are contraband at the “Exited States” border. They cannot be sold in or imported to the USA, because apparently US kids like to eat and choke on those little parts of the toys.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Does Mitsubishi sell the i MIEV in Canada? That’s basically a four-door, two-row version of the electric smart.

    As stubby as the nose is on the gen3 smart, they could have just put the drivetrain in there and made an iQ clone.

    I see from the interior pics that the shifter has gone in for the “looks-like-a-manual” leather boot.

    • 0 avatar
      scwmcan

      Actually reports are that they have dropped the automated manual for a manual and a regular automatic ( not sure if cvt or planetary gear style). So it is possible it is a normal manual transmission in the pic.

  • avatar
    juicy sushi

    What you really want is a Renault Sport Twingo. Which is just a non-starter on this continent. Maybe you need to relocate, Derek?

  • avatar

    Have you seen what happens when a SMART gets hit by an average Mercedes?
    youtube.com/watch?v=sKSPxQjPOm0

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      That’s ugly . . . and 64 km/h (the crash speed) is not that fast. In fact, its the kind of crash that easily could happen in an urban/suburban setting. Two cars colliding head-on, each going 25 mph, have a collision speed of 50 mph, which is 80 kph, about 30% faster than this video. Maybe the crash test dummy survived without significant injury, but the way the head was whipping around (because the whole car was thrown in the air), doesn’t look good to me.

      • 0 avatar
        brenschluss

        Collision speeds aren’t quite that simple- if two equal objects hit each other while each travelling say, 25MPH, it’s still a 25MPH impact, same as one of the objects hitting a wall, since neither has a mass advantage.

        Of course, if one car is light and one is heavy, that’s when you actually have to do math, and it doesn’t look good for the little guy.

        • 0 avatar

          Ahhhh Physics class…

        • 0 avatar
          iganpo

          Head-on collision? Actually it is very simple. Gather the following:
          – mass of car 1
          – mass of car 2
          – initial velocity of car 1 (25 mph)
          – initial velocity of car 2 (-25 mph)

          Then apply equations for conservation of momentum and conservation of energy, and solve for new velocities.

          Very unlikely for a Smart to hit something with the same mass.

          Without doing any math, would you agree that a Smart hitting a bus, both traveling 25 mph toward each other, will cause the Smart passengers to experience a deceleration force comparable to hitting a wall at 50 mph?

    • 0 avatar
      philadlj

      So don’t get hit by an average Mercedes while driving a Smart, I guess…

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      It’s probably better than what would happen to my carbon fiber bicycle. I regularly hit 35-45 mph on hills and sometimes can hit 55+. Even a motorcycle is a step up in safety for me.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Doesn’t look like it’s rear-engined to me. I don’t see that this adds anything to the list of Mini Coopers, and other box-on-wheels designs. If ever there were a niche for an EV, this seems like it to me. These cars, even with gasoline engines, are not going to be much fun at 70 mph on a highway. Their utility is in urban/suburban street driving. For that purpose, an EV’s limited range is not a problem. And, I would think an EV powerplant would be easier to package than an ICE powerplant.

    • 0 avatar
      darkwing

      It would be, if not for recharging — especially in the car-sharing model.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      I agree. Also, the EV eliminates the need for the auto transmission.

      Given how small the car is, and if it doesn’t need to go fast, the battery pack would be small, which helps with recharge time. Other than for car-sharing, few would have any issues with it so long as they have access to an outlet when parked.

      Honestly, if I was given a Smart EV, I’d keep it and use it gladly. I would not have it as an only car, but I’d definitely use it as a commuter and short trips that don’t let regular ICEs get up to temperature.

  • avatar

    maxcdn.fooyoh.com/files/attach/images/1044/506/840/009/Mini_Tumbler_0.jpg

  • avatar
    DevilsRotary86

    “Confession Time: I want a Smart ForFour”

    That’s OK, there are places to get help with that.

  • avatar

    I still don’t get it. Why would anyone buy a Smart over a Fiat 500 or even the Scion iQ? Those cars get the same gas mileage and are more practical and more fun to drive.

    I’d even rather have a new Mitsubishi Mirage or even a 20 year old Geo Metro over one of these…

    • 0 avatar

      The only acceptable smart is the convertible and if you want a half-ass ragtop, buy a 500C.

    • 0 avatar
      Duaney

      I agree. Always have wondered what the possible appeal a Smart car has other than parking in a very crowded city. I drive a Chevy Chevette diesel, 40-50 mpg at 6-7thousand feet elevation, twice the size and 3 times the cargo capacity of the Smart car. 1981 technology better than the 2014 technology of the Smart car.

    • 0 avatar
      sproc

      So true. In the case of the ForFour, unless it drives vastly better than the ForTwo and is very competitively priced, I can’t imagine choosing it over a Fit.

    • 0 avatar
      onyxtape

      And the new Smarts use a Mitsubishi gas engine which gets about the same mileage as some mid-size sedans.

      I test drove them once at a boutique greenie auto store, and they had an older model with a Mercedes turbo diesel. It was pretty fun to whip around and gets much better mileage – one you would expect from a car this small.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      Well, there’s Fiat’s initial quality survey results, and the iQ has some terrible reviews.

      But indeed, just about any B segment car is a better option to a ForTwo.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Chevy Spark. Damn close in price, and can actually hold four people, even if the two in the rear aren’t happy.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      Wait, did you just suggest the Scion IQ is more fun to drive than, well, basically anything? I don’t doubt it’s rationally the superior option, but (admittedly lacking first-hand experience with the Scion), I have a hard time believing a tiny FWD Toyota with a CVT is more fun than an aggressively weird rear engined, rear wheel drive Franco-German thing.

      Now, if you buy the EPA’s numbers, the automatic Fiat 500 consumes about $500 more has per year than the Scion (the Smart is marginally worse than the Scion as well), although picking the Fiat’s manual achieves a bit of parity (I would, but to compare apples to apples, you have to go with the two-pedal variant). In addition, the Scion is a little more expensive than the Smart to begin with, and I’d argue the Smart is slightly better looking (at least it looked like someone tried instead of putting wheels on a blowfish).

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Many years ago, I use to play Gran Turismo original on PS1.

    In that game there was a JDM vehicle known as the Toyota Vitz.

    This ForFour looks just like that, except in trendy colors. http://avto-russia.ru/autos/toyota/photo/toyota_vitz_1.jpg

  • avatar
    olddavid

    Medscape announced a new series of SSRI drugs recently. Your about-face of sensible enthusiasm is probably one of those things better left unsaid.

  • avatar
    Advance_92

    The four-four’s shape reminds me a lot of the current Yaris.

  • avatar
    omer333

    But, it looks nothing like a Twingo.

  • avatar
    pragmatist

    I don’t see a big parking advantage. You either have a space or you don’t. Since spaces are sized to fit a standard car, driving a micro car doesn’t provide much of an advantage.

    • 0 avatar
      orangefruitbat

      You must live in a land of perfect parkers where none of the following ever happen:
      *you need to parallel park on a street
      *other drivers never spill over into the adjacent spot

      The Smart Car provides excellent visibility, comfortable seating and easy parking – all of which are key ingredients of a successful city car. Too bad the engine and transmission are about the worst on the planet (and fuel economy since they ditched the diesel is disappointing).

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        All reasons the Smart should be an EV.

      • 0 avatar
        Brian P

        … and AGAIN, remember that the next smart – the one that this article is about – has a different (Renault) engine and different transmissions than the outgoing model that everyone loves to hate. Notably, the photos of the new one show a proper manual with three pedals.

    • 0 avatar
      onyxtape

      Since it’s nearly a square footprint, you can back-in or straight-in where you would normally have to parallel park. This appeals a great deal to its target demographic.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      >> I don’t see a big parking advantage.

      Visit Boston’s neighborhoods and surrounding suburbs sometime. No cute little white markings. It’s bumpah ta bumpah baby! In parking garages, there are allegedly standard sized somewhere, but the vast majority are marked compact and that’s a stretch. If you have a midsize or larger, you’d better have a large sunroof because that’s the only way you’re getting out.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      I’ve heard of condo-dwelling couples who only have one parking spot buying a pair of Smarts and fitting them both in the same spot.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Is the engine really in the back? Awesome. I guess that makes the front bulge a trunk.

    • 0 avatar
      juicy sushi

      Apparently not. Not enough space, with the crash structure, so the trunk is still in the back, on top of the engine. Just don’t buy ice cream with your groceries…

  • avatar

    Now the backbenchers can look over their shoulder and dread the sight of an oncoming truck. In other words: no crumble zone except for the rear passengers themselves. It’s about time NCAP will include rear impact testing in their collision assessment program. If you just drive around town, then I guess a ForFour is fine. Btw, Citroen C1 looks better though.

  • avatar

    Bring it with a stick. The Smart’s biggest problem is that awful slushbox. It would be kind of fun with a stick.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      I drove mine in manual mode almost the entire time I had it, and it was pretty fun. Fuel cut was around 6500 rpm or so.

    • 0 avatar

      Would have to try though it seems the tech has come a long way. Up until 10 years ago, autos sucked the fun out of any small engine. Over the last 10 years, the take rate on autos in small cars, even in Europe and the developing world, has increased a lot. It is now a real selling point that impacts market share. For good or worse, the auto is starting to take over in this segment and makers are spending accordingly, making a real effort to make a nice powertrain with this configuration.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      The new Smart uses a 6 speed dual clutch transmission. There is a manual 5 speed, but no word as to whether it will make it to the States. For more power, there is also an optional 90hp turbo with 100 lb-ft torque. Don’t know the weight.

  • avatar
    redav

    A bigger Smart?

  • avatar

    I will also add that its about damn time they got rid of the pre-aged 158k-mile Pacifica transmission they equip each one with.

  • avatar
    Tummy

    I have a current Smart ED and it’s a lot better than I expected. The power is so underrated it’s insane. I got 0-60 in 7.8 seconds, much faster than the 11.5s published.

    http://youtu.be/ZDpEGH2Z_Ew

    My other cars are a ML63 AMG and a SLK350. I basically haven’t driven those since I got the smart 6 months ago. The gas savings is around $4,000 usd a year alone. I use to get pleasure from hearing the AMG engine. Now I just think the cost of one tank of gas (one week worth for me) will pay for 4 months of electricity.

    I’m not so sure about the new smarts they look a little too much like toys to me.

  • avatar
    iganpo

    A Smart with the right drivetrain could be nice.

  • avatar
    Blaz

    Look at those happy people at Revoz (Renault SA) assembly line in Novo mesto, Slovenia. After the new twingo, they are going to start making the new smart: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aidLOjbJYHg


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