Autodealer dream buy: Smart ForTwo

It’s time for another Autodealer dream buy, where we browse through the internet and pick a car that we’d like to own.

This week, we are looking at something ultra-compact in the form of the Smart ForTwo, a city car that was downsizing way before it was cool.

Smart ForTwo (W450 and W451) – The Smart ForTwo model first came on to the scene in 1998 at the Paris Motor Show. The vehicle seemed to transcend the barriers between a small car and a motorcycle because of its compact dimensions. The Smart was introduced with a small turbocharged 599cc engine but was later upgraded to a 698cc in 2003 and the latter will be the model we will be focussing on here. It certainly had the sort of engine capacity associated with a motorcycle but with the protection from the elements that a vehicle provides.

The Smart showed us that a small vehicle could be relatively safe, how small engines could boost efficiency and how easy it is to park and manoeuvre compact vehicles. In a way, the Smart was ahead of its time and perhaps not appreciated as much as it could have been.

What to watch out for:

  • The engines are known to need rebuilding in higher mileage examples so check the dipstick and ensure that there is sufficient oil, this either means that the vehicle isn’t using oil or that the owner/dealer knows to keep it topped-up, either way, it is a good sign. Ask the owner/dealer if the vehicle is using oil too.
  • Check the turbo manifold for cracks as this is known problem. Also, ensure that the vehicle isn’t smoking as this could mean that the turbo is on its way out.
  • Check that the vehicle has been serviced by a Smart agent, specialist or at the very least a Mercedes-Benz dealership.
  • Parts, in general, are pricey so ensure that the vehicle is inspected to ensure that you’re not in for a more nasty maintenance bill in the near future.
  • The SAM unit, which controls the vehicle’s electrical functions is known to fail due to water leaking from the fabric top on the cabriolet models on to the unit. Inspect the electrical systems in the vehicle and check that the roof doesn’t leak if it’s a cabriolet model.

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