Smart ForFour by Kyosho

5 May 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Smart ForFour by Kyosho

Smart ForFour

by Kyosho

In the early 1990s, Swiss watch manufacturer Swatch decided to pursue an idea to produce a small trendy town car along the lines of their watch line up (which were very fashionable but not expensive, and which had interchangeable coloured faces, an idea which was eventually echoed in the changeable body panels on the original Smart cars.

Swatch CEO Nicolas Hayek realised the only practical way to get into the automobile business was to team up with an existing manufacturer. Initially a deal was agreed with Volkswagen, but nothing came of this arrangement and Swatch pulled out. A deal with Mercedes-Benz was then agreed and a new factory was established in France in 1994 in order to build the new Smart car. (Which apparently stands for Swatch Mercedes ART).

The resulting car was extremely short and compact and had only two seats. It was envisaged to have had an advanced engine/propulsion system using either hybrid or wholly electric technology, but in the end had conventional petrol or diesel engines, all with 3 cylinders and turbocharging.

Development costs soared and it looked like the venture was not going to be profitable (and since it went on sale in 1998 is hasn’t turned a profit for Mercedes-Benz), so Swatch pulled out leaving Mercedes to go it alone.

In order to expand the range, the original 2 seater (first known as the City Coupe, then the ForTwo) was developed into an open top version, along with a limited edition roofless version called the Crossblade. A neat two seat sports car called the Roadster (which was based on the ForTwo) came along in 2003 followed by this car, the ForFour in 2004.

Despite the introduction of these new models, the Smart division of Mercedes continued to make big losses, and the sales of the new cars were a big disappointment for the company. So much so that the Roadster was discontinued in 2005 and the ForFour is to stop production this year (2006) after only two years in production.

Personally I was disappointed to hear that the Roadster and the ForFour were to be discontinued as I find both to be interesting looking cars that are somewhat out of the ordinary. I bought this model of the ForFour (by Kyosho) on the Smart stand at the 2004 British motor show where there were several of the new ForFours on display.

Mercedes through an arrangement with Mitsubishi had developed the ForFour alongside the new for 2003 Mitsubishi Colt and both were built in the Netherlands at the NedCar factory (which was formerly owned by Volvo who were subsequently bought out by Mitsubishi). Despite it’s outlandish looks, the ForFour was a totally conventional four cylindered front wheel drive hatchback but which cost more than similarly sized cars (including it’s sister car the new Colt) thanks to the cachet of the Smart brand. Consequently it proved a poor seller and thanks to the overall poor financial health of the Smart company, Mercedes pulled the plug on the ForFour in 2006.

Kyosho obviously did not put a lot of effort into this model of the ForFour. The silver plastic brake discs look pretty basic and their isn’t even a proper engine in it (just a lump of silver painted plastic seen from below-the bonnet does not open). The front doors open on dog-leg hinges which is usual for even the most basic current budget models at present.

However, in terms of scale and stance it looks accurate and the lights and interior detailing are good.

As I’m currently in the middle of a house move (August 2006) all my models are packed away in storage so I’m not able to examine this model properly to fairly mark it according to my rating system. Hence the ratings below are blank, but over all it is generally above average in most categories. Once my collection is out of storage I’ll add a proper ratings scale to this review.

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