smart forfour coolstyle
Our Rating

4/5

smart forfour coolstyle

Less power but a little more funkiness for smart's most conventional car.

The substantial and expensive changes that have taken place at smart in recent months - as an alternative to DaimlerChrysler pulling the plug on the marque altogether - have given new significance to the forfour range. These are almost the only cars to have emerged intact from the revival plan, which has led to the early death of the roadster and roadster-coupé and the abandonment of plans to develop the formore SUV, with the fortwo being due for replacement anyway in the near future.But the forfour hatchback isn't continuing quite as before. The range is being extended in both directions, with a massive five-figure variation in prices at the new extremes. Right at the top sits the remarkable Brabus (see launch review), and at the bottom lurk the new purestyle and coolstyle.Both of these cars use a detuned version (down from 75bhp to 64bhp) of the three-cylinder 1.1-litre petrol engine. Since the marque first came to the UK five years ago, "pure" has always been smartspeak for "entry-level", and sure enough the purestyle is the cheapest forfour of all at £7295. The coolstyle tested here is mechanically identical but costs £8595. Colour schemes aside, the obvious visual difference comes in the form of a set of 15" alloy wheels instead of the 14" steel ones used on the purestyle.The coolstyle is also better-equipped. Standard equipment includes air-conditioning, a height-adjustable driver's seat and a cover for the small luggage compartment. It was always a mystery that the forfour did not have such a cover, but it's being introduced to the rest of the range at the same time as it appears on the coolstyle.A 15% drop in power is bound to have a significant effect on a car which, in 1.1-litre form, was none too rapid in the first place. On paper, the coolstyle is certainly no ball of fire, unable to reach 100mph flat out and with a 0-62mph acceleration time of about a quarter of a minute. But its customers are unlikely to drive around on full throttle, no doubt preferring to enjoy the generic delights of a small hatchback combined with the undoubtedly stylish looks of this particular car.To the extent that the coolstyle needs performance, it has it in sufficient measure. Except when heavily laden it seemed quick enough to me, particularly on the open road when it was already up and running and acceleration from rest was not an issue. When pushed hard it's a bit bouncy at the front, but in all other conditions it's very pleasant to drive, especially in the urban environment where it is likely to spend most of its working life.The only real irritant is the fact that those cussed windscreen pillars are so wide and so close that you can easily lose track of objects (other cars, trucks, people) positioned about ten feet away diagonally in front of the car. That's a basic design problem, common to all other forfours and indeed to all Mitsubishi Colts, which amount to the same thing.One visibility issue that seems unique to the coolstyle - at least among the forfours and Colts I've driven up to now - relates to the interior trim. The test car was red and silver on the outside and predominantly red on the inside. The top of the dash was reflected in the windscreen and gave a pink tinge to the section of glass I was looking through; it was as if I had stared at a bright light just before getting into the car, though unlike the bright light scenario the effect never went away.If I'd had more than a week with the coolstyle I would probably have forgotten all about this, and in any case it says a lot for the car that I could not find anything more significant to complain about. The customer profile for the coolstyle is probably quite specific and therefore limited, but the people who want it will like it when they get it. Engine 1124cc, 4 cylinders Power 64bhp Transmission 5-speed manual Fuel/CO2 39.2mpg / 133g/km Acceleration 0-62mph: 15.3 seconds Top speed 99mph Price £8595 Details correct at publication date

Latest Car Reviews

Join the newsletter

Get the latest news, reviews and guides every week. Update your preferences at any time.