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Smart ForFour review

The Good

  • Fun to drive
  • Reasonably practical
  • Clever design

The Bad

  • A bit big?
  • Relatively pricey
  • It's a Twingo
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Our Smart ForFour review takes us from London to Northumberland and beyond, but was the new four-door Smart car worth the trek?

So you like the idea of owning a new Smart Car, but can’t physically fit yourself, family and the usual accoutrements of life inside one? Well Smart has you covered with a more practical four door model.

The new Smart ForFour has, as the name suggests, room for four people, a decent sized boot and is still compact enough to warrant the Smart name, but is it any good?

Design

The new Smart ForFour has much in common with its baby brother, but has a more traditional design in many respects. Its longer body and body-mounted door handles in particular give it a more ‘normal’ appearance.

“There are numerous carry-over parts from the Twingo, including the protruding radio aerial on the roof.”It’s based on the same Renault Twingo platform as the ForTwo, though it has more in common with the Twingo than the ForTwo does. It’s built in the same factory as the Renault city car, by Renault engineers, albeit to Daimler’s specification. Every car produced is then purchased by Daimler and sold on to the consumer in Smart dealerships.

There are numerous carry-over parts from the Twingo, including the protruding radio aerial on the roof, wing mirror housings and the gear knob, but for the most part it’s a Smart. 

Practicality

The Smart ForFour is significantly more practical than the ForTwo. It’s identical up front (three cup holders, small door bins and a laughable glove box) but has two extra seats in the rear. The rear doors open by almost 90 degrees for easy access.

It’s not particularly roomy back there – two six-footers will fit, though those sat in the front will have to slide their seats as far forward as they can tolerate. Even so, those in the rear will have their knees pressed up against the front seat and their heads touching the ceiling.

There’s ample room for luggage, surprisingly. The car has 215 litres of boot space (provided you don’t recline the rear seats) and this rises to 315 litres if you pile luggage above head height. The rear seats fold flat, providing 450 litres, and if you really want to go to town, you can fold the front passenger seat flat too.

Smart boasts it’s possible to fit an entire flat-packed Ikea office into the ForTwo – but you’ll need to be pretty masterful at Tetris to achieve this sort of result.

Performance & Handling

The Smart ForFour, like its ForTwo brother, can be powered by either a 1-litre three-cylinder petrol engine or an 898cc turbocharged unit. While the 71hp 1-litre unit is powerful enough for the ForTwo, we’d recommend the smaller, but more powerful turbo unit for the ForFour. Its 91hp gives the ForFour a decent turn of pace.

It’s nippy around town and has enough torque for overtaking – even at motorway speeds. The fact the engine is positioned at the rear of the car seems to make for a relatively quiet cabin, although this car suffers more from wind noise at motorway speeds than the smaller ForTwo. It’s no deal-breaker though; it’s quiet enough to have a conversation at high speed without having to shout.

“The Smart ForFour rides well – far better than the ForTwo.”The Smart ForFour rides well – far better than the ForTwo. While the smaller car suffers from a jiggly and unsettled ride (even on smooth roads) the ForFour is perfectly composed. It also handles well with light, responsive steering and plenty of grip.

It’s actually just as capable around town as it is blasting through twisty open roads, and generally a real hoot to drive.

Economy & Environment

The ForFour is heavier than the ForTwo, so economy suffers slightly. Whereas the two-door car manages 68.9mpg with the 1-litre engine, the ForFour returns 67.3mpg. CO2 emissions are also up, from 93g/km to 97g/km.

Equipment & Value

The ForFour starts from £11,620 – just £495 more than the ForTwo. That’s pretty good value, considering you’re getting a lot more for your cash.

Like the ForTwo, it comes in three equipment grades; passion, prime and proxy. The entry-level passion model includes 15-inch alloys, auto climate control, a decent audio system, multifunction leather steering wheel, a 3.5-inch TFT colour screen behind the steering wheel and cruise control.

The prime upgrade starts at £12,315 and gets better 15-inch bi-colour alloys, lane keeping assist, a panoramic glass roof, more dashboard instrument pods, black leather seats with white stitching, a better-looking dashboard with fabric and contrasting white trim, and heated seats.

The proxy model costs exactly the same as the prime, but gains cloth and leather Artico seats in white and blue with a colour-matching interior colour scheme. Proxy ditches heated seats in favour of 16-inch wheels finished in black, 10mm lower sports suspension, a chrome exhaust finisher, alloy pedals and a sports steering wheel in perforated leather.

Safety

The Smart ForFour has safety limitations – it’ll never have as much potential to be as safe as a larger vehicle, but it’s hard as nails. Its ‘tridion’ safety cell (that’s the metal cage that surrounds it) is tough enough to keep the passenger cabin intact even in the event of a collision with a larger vehicle at speed.

It’s likely safer than the ForTwo in some respects. Passengers sitting in the front should be better protected against heavy rear impacts, as there’s more bodywork for the impact to dissipate through. Its side impact protection may not be as good as the ForTwo, however, due to the presence of the B-pillar, which is constructed of far softer metal than the rest of the heavy-duty tridion safety cell.

The car has electronic stability control, cross wind assist and strong brakes.

Verdict

The Smart ForTwo is a fantastic little car. It’s better, in many ways, than the ForTwo, thanks to a more settled ride, more cabin space and doesn’t give too much away in performance terms. Sure, it’s not a Smart car in the traditional sense due to its size, but it’s a more useful proposition that should suit more people more of the time than its dinky cousin.

Specification

Engine1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol
Power71hp @ 6,000rpm
Torque91Nm @ 2,850
Acceleration0-62mph in 15.9 seconds
Emissions97g/km
Economy67.3mpg
Price£11,620

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