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Smart ForFour 2005 review: snapshot

"Have faith," I insisted, with fingers crossed. "It's a smart car."

I had heard great things about this "Mini-Me" vehicle: tough, comfortable, reliable, revolutionary even, part of the Mercedes-Benz group.

And, after all, it's called a forfour ... for four people ... so why not put it to the test?

Well, aren't I just the smartypants. The forfour passed the test with flying colours.

The only place the smart car struggled (and only a little) was pushing up through the Adelaide Hills. But, don't forget, the 1.3-litre engine was working overtime with the car loaded to the brim. It's surprising what you can fit into a car that measures just 3.7m long and 1.7m wide ... four people plus enough gear for a weekend away, including liquid refreshments.

Yes, there is enough room in the boot for an Esky. Just. In fact, the entire back seat moves forward or back to allow for more leg room or luggage – depending on how nice you want to be to your passengers.

The 2/3 split seat also folds all the way down so you have a mini version of a station wagon.

A common misconception with this little car is that driving it will make you feel vulnerable because it's so small.

Not so, thanks to a lot of smart ideas. The roomy interior makes you feel like you're in a much larger car.

Safety was obviously a big consideration in the smart design, starting with the tridion safety cell (sounds like something out of a Dr Who series).

Then, add dual front and side airbags, integral safety seats (whatever that means), seat-belt tensioners, belt-force limiters and a whole ABC of safety features, including ABS brakes with EBD (electronic brakeforce distribution) and ESP (electronic stability program).

As for looks, this little car is a smart dresser, thanks again, in part, to that tridion cell – the frame on which the forfour is built.

The cell is also the base for some pretty snazzy colour co-ordination. Pick one of three frames and then chop and change the other panels (from a choice of 10 colours) to create the look you want – sleek silver, bold red and black, trendy black or adorable panda. The panels are made from scratch-resistant plastic, robust enough, Mercedes says, "to withstand light bumps virtually unscathed".

Unfortunately, I can vouch for that – thanks to some smart alec who hit me and then took off.

Barely a scratch on the bumper.

But the smart ideas don't stop there. Here are just a few more to whet your appetite:

  • Automatic windows in the front but manual in the back.
  • A tray by the side of the front seats ... how often have you dropped something down the side of the front seat and then struggled to find it?
  • Removable ashtray.
  • A four-way interior light with a soft glow or stronger individual reading globes.

LOVE IT
Everything – the look, the size (small on the outside but big on the inside), easy on the juice and especially the fact that other cars seem to "bounce off" those special body panels.

LEAVE IT
Having to give it back.

Pricing Guides

$3,355
Based on third party pricing data
Lowest Price
$2,640
Highest Price
$4,070

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Pulse 1.5L, PULP, 5 SP MAN $2,640 – 4,070 2005 Smart Forfour 2005 Pulse Pricing and Specs