Saturday, February 6, 2010

2013 Smart ForFour Review and Prices

Smart may revive its ForFour model and bring it to the U.S. for the 2013 or 2014 model year. The 2006 ForFour is shown here. See more pictures of small cars.
Consumer Guide's Impressions of the 2013 Smart ForFour

Rumor has it that Mercedes' minicar division will add a four-passenger model--again. The new ForFour hatchback seems a smart idea (sorry) and a sure thing for the U.S.

What We Know About the 2013 Smart ForFour

It looks like the minicar subsidiary of Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler AG is going back to the future. European sources say Smart is planning a 4-door, four-passenger hatchback to supplement its teeny 2-door, two-passenger ForTwo coupe and convertible. Smart once offered such a car, the Dutch-built ForFour, but it was sold only in Europe and didn't sell well enough to stem persistent financial losses; it was yanked after just two years (2004-06). The new 2013 Smart ForFour, which is also being rumored for the "ForTwo+2" name, is not expected until calendar 2013 at the earliest, which could mean a 2014-model U.S. debut. There's also talk of a new three-passenger Smart Roadster as a spiritual successor to the two-passenger Euro-market sports car of 2003-05. More on that in the "Notable Feature" section.

The Smart brand launched in 1998 with the iconic City Coupe, later named ForTwo. That car was never officially sold in America, but developed a cult following that led to a good many being brought in privately. The ForFour and Roadster were intended to broaden Smart's Euro-market appeal and turn the company's ledger from red ink to black. Instead, they only made matters worse. That's why Daimler decided to reset Smart by focusing solely on a redesigned ForTwo and to sanction official U.S. sales for the first time--albeit through an independent franchise, Smart USA, owned and operated by Penske Automotive Group. (Daimler execs evidently blanched at the idea of American Benz dealers selling teensy two-passenger minicars alongside grand S-Class sedans.) Helped by initially solid U.S. ForTwo sales (starting with model-year '08), Smart finally made a small profit, prompting new ideas for additional models to extend the brand's market reach.