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Andy C

Smart ForFour

Our hire car down to London last weekend for the Motor Show.

The previous one was based on a Mitsubishi Colt, and was pretty forgetful but all accounts. This one is based on the Renault Twingo. Is it any good?  No, is the answer. In fact, itís probably the worst car Iíve ever driven (thatís including Taraís Daewoo Matiz, her first car.  That was horrific, but it cost £80, and was old and knackered.  The problem I have with this ForFour is its brand new, well 2014 onwards)



Good

Gearbox Ė Reasonably accurate (for a French car at least)

Turning circle -  Thanks to the rear engine layout presumably. Itís extremely manoeuvrable and has an amazing turning circle




Bad

Seats Ė The front seats were uncomfortable and hard, the rears were the same, but were perched too low so your hamstrings were floating in mid-air.


Steering/Motorway stability Ė (These tie in with each other) - at 70mph on the M1, it felt like we were driving through a gale force wind such was the lack of stability. It was weaving about all over the place, resulting in constantly needing to adjust the steering wheel to keep going in a straight line. The problem then was the steering was so quick to respond to the tiniest of inputs, meaning the car would lurch left, and then right, and so on.   Frustratingly, the steering would then do the opposite when actually going round a corner; zero feel, zero feedback, and what felt like absolutely no weight over the front. This wasnít fun going round a long, winding motorway slip road corner. It felt dangerous.

Engine - 0.9 litres, 3 cylinder, and 69bhp.  It sounded good (as do all 3 cylinders), giving off an interesting sounding Ďthrumí, but it really needs a turbo.   No power, no torque, and was scary joining a motorway.  It was also gutless round town, and it had no rev counter: WTF?   Fordís Eco boost engines show how a little turbo can transform an engine.

Quality - The bonnet was thinner and less durable than a wheelie bin lid.  The interior layout was a mess, with some very iffy materials scattered around.   Iím sure the circular air vents are the same as those cat toys you get in a Whiskas Christmas cat stocking. The screen on the dash was less sophisticated than a Casio watch from the early 90s, and the only radio station it seemed to pick up was Radio 1.



Looks -   Personally I think the front is pig ugly, and from the side it looks stretched.



Practicality -   Surely the point of making it rear engined and rear wheel drive was to improve on space? (It certainly didn't improve the drive - I was craving FWD!) Yes in the back is quite spacious, but open the front, paper thin bonnet and thereís no boot space, just a battery and washer bottle.  The rear boot is OK size wise, but  due to having an engine underneath, it doesn't go very deep.  It seems like theyíve tried to solve a problem that didnít need solving in the first place. Step forward the VW Up!, Seat Mii and Skoda Citigo.   A much better car in every way, and much cheaper.



All in all, it was a huge disappointment and a horrible experience. The thought of spending £11,300 on this awfulness makes me queasy.   It also doesnít bode well for the FourTwo.  A lot of these faults will remain, but with only 2 seats. No thanks!   Iíve always hated Smart cars and donít get the point of them.  Itís also funny seeing a man driving one.  But if youíre a woman, for fuckís sake, head to your local VW, SEAT or Skoda dealer instead.
simonp

I'm guessing the rear windows don't go down either?
gooner

So basically it's a piece of shit, just like the last one was.
Chris M Wanted a V-10

simonp wrote:
I'm guessing the rear windows don't go down either?

Look carefully and you can see the black plugs in the window glass for the hinges, just like a Mk 1 Ka

Ref the first post, Wheelie bins actually have quite thick and strong lids.....
Bob Sacamano

Chris M Wanted a V-10 wrote:


Ref the first post, Wheelie bins actually have quite thick and strong lids.....


You know way too much about wheelie bins...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-tyne-39150562

The original Smart ForTwos always looked like motorised wheelie bins and, funnily enough, always seemed to be driven by big fat blokes.

This current ForFour is a truly hideous looking car - I have no idea why anyone would consider it when there are far better options out there.
Nice Guy Eddie

I'm embarrassed to say I didn't even know this thing existed.

It does look rather pants.
TreVoR

Saw one the other day and I nearly saw my lunch for a second time.

Can't say I'm surprised it's terrible. I hated the ForTwo I hired in Mallorca a few years ago.
Martin

I've never liked them and that's not changed, the latest one sounds as terrible as it looks.

What cruel twist of fate meant you had one as a hire car?!
Bob Sacamano

There's a large Mercedes service centre round the corner from us in Middlesbrough and they have a fleet of new ForFours as courtesy cars. Seeing them all lined up is not pretty.
Andy C

Chris M Wanted a V-10 wrote:
simonp wrote:
I'm guessing the rear windows don't go down either?

Look carefully and you can see the black plugs in the window glass for the hinges, just like a Mk 1 Ka

Ref the first post, Wheelie bins actually have quite thick and strong lids.....


Good enough in a car crash though?  Doesn't fill me with huge confidence
Andy C

Martin wrote:
I've never liked them and that's not changed, the latest one sounds as terrible as it looks.

What cruel twist of fate meant you had one as a hire car?!


It worked out cheaper than the train. There also wasn't a train at the time we wanted.  Did a one way rental from Birmingham airport to London city. Got the train home for £7.50
Giant

Andy C wrote:
Chris M Wanted a V-10 wrote:
simonp wrote:
I'm guessing the rear windows don't go down either?

Look carefully and you can see the black plugs in the window glass for the hinges, just like a Mk 1 Ka

Ref the first post, Wheelie bins actually have quite thick and strong lids.....


Good enough in a car crash though? †Doesn't fill me with huge confidence


A bonnet is not a structural element and has no impact (pun unintended) on the safety of its occupants in an accident. Hit a pedestrian however and the flexibility becomes a positive, allowing the pedestrians head to decelerate more slowly thus reducing risk of brain injury. Front engined cars still need relatively stiff bonnets to avoid the pedestrians head hitting the immovable objects underneath. A rear engined vehicle obviously doesn't have this issue and therefore the flexible bonnet would be a deliberate engineering solution rather than (purely) cost cutting.
Humphrey The Pug

So did you like it?!

I've extensive knowledge of the Twingo (which is exactly the same car underneath as the Smart).

I do think you are being a tad harsh on the car,  for what it's built and designed for (city driving)I think it performs very well.

I'm assuming the interior quality is on par with the Twingo and if so then yes it's not as well put together as the VAG cars, however it certainly isn't awful, I should imagine money has been spent elsewhere (rear engined chassis).

What both the Twingo and Smart have going for them both over the VAG cars is; they aren't deathly dull to look at, you may not like the look of them but they definately have character, which is the same for the interior's too, particularly the Smart.

The non turbo engine is crap out of town and tbh it isn't all that around town, you really have to rag the arse off it for it to get anywhere and yes it is a crap car on the motorway, picking up crosswinds and the wake from lorries quite alarmingly, the turbo engine is night and day better than the non turbo, it's quite a nice engine to hussle along and gives the car a good turn of speed and acceleration.

I'm not sure on the overall merits of the rear engine rear drive chassis as I should imagine a shit load of money was invested into it, Ok it has a tight turning circle and the interior is quite spacious  it has money been diverted to the chassis layout at the expense of other things; probably, but then it is different.

I initally hated the look of the Smart but it has grown on me and certainly it appears to be popular (at least where I am as I see loads about), Twingo not so.
PG

I actually don't think it looks as horrible as others do. Yes, it's not pretty, but it's not boring either.

But the drive sounds awful.
Martin

Andy C wrote:
Martin wrote:
I've never liked them and that's not changed, the latest one sounds as terrible as it looks.

What cruel twist of fate meant you had one as a hire car?!


It worked out cheaper than the train. There also wasn't a train at the time we wanted. †Did a one way rental from Birmingham airport to London city. Got the train home for £7.50


And you didn't have to travel on public transport, a maybe it wasn't all that bad after all.  
Roadsterstu

It saved one train journey. That last photo is me, trying to get the pull off, clip on plastic bonnet back on. With difficulty.  No hinges. Just lifts off. Yuk. And the rear seats were awful but I guess rear passenger carrying abilities are not it's primary purpose, in fairness. As Andy says, it was crap. But cheaper than a one way train fare.
Dr. Hfuhruhurr

I think you've unearthed the guilty secret about the Twingo and smart twins - that they are horrid, cheap and thoroughly nasty cars. Overpriced, dog slow (even the new Twingo GT) ... can't think of anything to recommend about them.
Chris M Wanted a V-10

Roadsterstu wrote:
..... But cheaper than a one way train fare.


A vast majority of return train journeys are only a matter of pence more than the single fare..... and if your return journey is on a different day to the outbound journey that usually doubles the rpice. Our rail fare pricing system in the UK is crap
PhilD

Chris M Wanted a V-10 wrote:
Our rail system in the UK is crap


FYP
Bob Sacamano

Chris M Wanted a V-10 wrote:
Roadsterstu wrote:
..... But cheaper than a one way train fare.


A vast majority of return train journeys are only a matter of pence more than the single fare..... and if your return journey is on a different day to the outbound journey that usually doubles the rpice. Our rail fare pricing system in the UK is crap


Don't know about that, Mrs Sacamano went First Class from Newcastle to Edinburgh return the other day for £28 all in - including food and drink. I thought that was pretty good value, and it's a lovely journey.
Chris M Wanted a V-10

^ That is good value for money.
It costs almost that from Farnborough Main to Waterloo return, super-off-peak (after 10am or week-ends) in standard class, 35 minutes each way.
Big Blue

I'm going to Manchester with W2.0 next week. If I left it late it's £600+ return STANDARD class. Moon Boots pricing. I could hire a fecking chauffeur driven Mercedes for the day I reckon. In the end it's still £250 return for the two of us, including some discount.

Just checked: I could have a chauffeur and an E-class to drive us there, wait and drive us back for £483. An S-Class for £690. That will be door to door as well.
Roadsterstu

The problem we had was getting rail journeys at the right times, hence splitting it, rather than doing a return fare.
PhilD

Big Blue wrote:
I'm going to Manchester with W2.0 next week. If I left it late it's £600+ return STANDARD class. Moon Boots pricing. I could hire a fecking chauffeur driven Mercedes for the day I reckon. In the end it's still £250 return for the two of us, including some discount.

Just checked: I could have a chauffeur and an E-class to drive us there, wait and drive us back for £483. An S-Class for £690. That will be door to door as well.


What is it with London to Mancland? It's been a well trodden path at work and always seems ridiculously expensive no matter time of travel.
Roadsterstu

It's a well trodden path. So they charge silly prices and people have to pay.
Big Blue

Yes if there was capacity on the line for two operators then operator A and operator B would compete on pricing, even at peak. As it is you're on Virgin WC or in a car.
Blarno

Big Blue wrote:
I'm going to Manchester with W2.0 next week. If I left it late it's £600+ return STANDARD class. Moon Boots pricing. I could hire a fecking chauffeur driven Mercedes for the day I reckon. In the end it's still £250 return for the two of us, including some discount.

Just checked: I could have a chauffeur and an E-class to drive us there, wait and drive us back for £483. An S-Class for £690. That will be door to door as well.


For £600, I'll drive down there, pick you up and bring you to Manchester.
Martin

Big Blue wrote:
I'm going to Manchester with W2.0 next week. If I left it late it's £600+ return STANDARD class. Moon Boots pricing. I could hire a fecking chauffeur driven Mercedes for the day I reckon. In the end it's still £250 return for the two of us, including some discount.

Just checked: I could have a chauffeur and an E-class to drive us there, wait and drive us back for £483. An S-Class for £690. That will be door to door as well.


Why not drive?  OK, it will take longer, but travelling by car is nicer than the train, it will be a lot cheaper and you'll get to enjoy the B5 on a decent length trip.
Big Blue

It's the getting back bit. Both the girls will be at school so for a two hour meeting at 1200-1400 we can make it home by 1800 (ish). I'm not confident hitting the M25 at †1630-1700 and having to travel from the M40 to the A3 then inwards towards Kingston would be anything less than 2 hours.

If there were some other arrangement we'd be driving. To make amends we're going to stay by Coniston water at Easter and will be driving
Dr. Hfuhruhurr

Big Blue wrote:
Just checked: I could have a chauffeur and an E-class to drive us there, wait and drive us back for £483. An S-Class for £690. That will be door to door as well.

Do it!
Chris M Wanted a V-10

^ What about the M25 delays? I don't think that even an S-class has an avoidance system for traffic jams
Martin

Big Blue wrote:
It's the getting back bit. Both the girls will be at school so for a two hour meeting at 1200-1400 we can make it home by 1800 (ish). I'm not confident hitting the M25 at †1630-1700 and having to travel from the M40 to the A3 then inwards towards Kingston would be anything less than 2 hours.

If there were some other arrangement we'd be driving. To make amends we're going to stay by Coniston water at Easter and will be driving


Ahh, I assumed it was a weekend pleasure trip.

A trip to Coniston water sounds good, providing you are allowed to enjoy the car and don't get stuck on the M6!
DetmoldDick

Big Blue wrote:
I'm going to Manchester with W2.0 next week. If I left it late it's £600+ return STANDARD class. Moon Boots pricing. I could hire a fecking chauffeur driven Mercedes for the day I reckon. In the end it's still £250 return for the two of us, including some discount.

Just checked: I could have a chauffeur and an E-class to drive us there, wait and drive us back for £483. An S-Class for £690. That will be door to door as well.


How much for a helicopter?
Roadrunner

Big Blue wrote:
It's the getting back bit. Both the girls will be at school so for a two hour meeting at 1200-1400 we can make it home by 1800 (ish). I'm not confident hitting the M25 at †1630-1700 and having to travel from the M40 to the A3 then inwards towards Kingston would be anything less than 2 hours.

If there were some other arrangement we'd be driving. To make amends we're going to stay by Coniston water at Easter and will be driving


I shall look out for a B5 when we are up there  . We will be staying in Great Langdale. Our usual plan is to leave early and get to Herself's sister's place in Knutsford for breakfast at about 7:30 and then head on from there.
Michael

Big Blue wrote:
It's the getting back bit. Both the girls will be at school so for a two hour meeting at 1200-1400 we can make it home by 1800 (ish). I'm not confident hitting the M25 at †1630-1700 and having to travel from the M40 to the A3 then inwards towards Kingston would be anything less than 2 hours.

If there were some other arrangement we'd be driving. To make amends we're going to stay by Coniston water at Easter and will be driving


I'll keep an eye out and should you leave your boot open I'll do my best to ensure the dogs don't hop in after a swim, they do like Alpinas.
Roadrunner

Looks like a Forum mini-meet!
Dr. Hfuhruhurr

Roadrunner wrote:
Looks like a Forum mini-meet!

Presumably you mean in the back of BB's hired limo. Maybe he should forget the Benz and get a stretched Town Car or Hummer instead.
Roadsterstu

Michael wrote:
Big Blue wrote:
It's the getting back bit. Both the girls will be at school so for a two hour meeting at 1200-1400 we can make it home by 1800 (ish). I'm not confident hitting the M25 at †1630-1700 and having to travel from the M40 to the A3 then inwards towards Kingston would be anything less than 2 hours.

If there were some other arrangement we'd be driving. To make amends we're going to stay by Coniston water at Easter and will be driving


I'll keep an eye out and should you leave your boot open I'll do my best to ensure the dogs don't hop in after a swim, they do like Alpinas.


Get them extra muddy!
Tim

The current issue of CAR mag has the Twingo, Smart ForFour AMG (both in 108BHP turbo form), Vauxhall Adam and one of the VW Up clones (it might be the Up).

The Twingo gets the win.
The Smart is listed at the wrong side of £20k  
Mike Amos

Is the clutch as high as it is in the Twingo?  I found that so high as to make it impossible to use for me, the wheel adjustment meant I could not use the clutch pedal without getting in the way of steering.  Apparently the clutch pedal cannot be adjusted.
Skyhook

Old days...
Humphrey The Pug

Couple to go

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