City car cheekiness at a premium price
- Practical features
- Easy to manoeuvre
- Low running costs
- Premium chic appeal
- Expensive to buy
- Rivals are quicker
- Not the most efficient
If the name seems familiar, that’s because this is the second-generation Smart ForFour. The first one – based on the same underpinnings as the 2004-13 Mitsubishi Colt – didn’t sell particularly well, with most buyers opting for the smaller Smart ForTwo instead.
This time around it’s all change. It’s built alongside – and was developed in conjunction with – the Renault Twingo, sharing much of its technology including engines and transmissions. With the Smart ForTwo effectively a shortened version of the same package, this ForFour is effectively a more practical four-seater version (hence the name for four), which is the brand’s most popular model in the UK.
As well as the Twingo, the diminutive ForFour competes against various other models in the competitive city car segment, but given the Smart’s premium pricing, the Fiat 500 and the Volkswagen Up are its most obvious rivals.
Small yet expensive
Mercedes-Benz-owned Smart needed to put a premium slant on things for its city car, so the ForFour gets 40kg of extra sound deadening over the Twingo to help dull the sound of the engine under the boot floor in an effort to make it more refined, justifying the higher price tag.
A variety of styling and interior trim finishes add further embellishments to the ForFour’s appeal with a raft of two-tone colour schemes inside and out.
Buy into Smart’s Tailor Made service through the Brabus tuning division and a world of seemingly limitless hues and trim materials is opened up to you. Just be aware that personalisation to this degree isn’t remotely cheap – and there’s the possibility you could be lumbered with a car that’s difficult to sell on afterwards.
Petrol and electric power
Mainstream Smart ForFours have a choice of two Renault-sourced petrol engines: a non-turbo 1.0-litre unit producing a modest 71hp and a turbocharged 0.9-litre motor serving up 90hp. Each has a claimed fuel efficiency of over 65mpg.
Both send power exclusively to the rear wheels with a choice of a five-speed manual gearbox or an optional six-speed Twinamic dual-clutch automatic.
Those who desire something with more oomph should hunt out the Brabus models, available from September 2016. The smaller turbo engine has been uprated to 109hp, enough to propel the ForFour to 111mph and allow it to dash from 0-62mph in 10.5 seconds. Brabus ForFours only come with a Twinamic automatic ‘box.
Likely to join the range in 2017 is the ForFour Electric Drive. As the name suggests, this is an entirely electrically powered derivative of the roomier Smart and will be best-suited to owners who drive primarily in cities.
Five standard trim levels
Opt for either of the two lower-powered engines from the mainstream Smart ForFour range and you’ve a choice of three trim levels: Passion, Prime and Proxy.
Even at the lowest level you get 15-inch alloy wheels, automatic climate control, ISOFIX child seat mounts in the rear and cruise control. The removable cargo box and 50/50-split rear seats are also standard across the range.
Moving to higher-spec ForFours can garner features such as a panoramic glass sunroof, leather seating, sports suspension and larger 16-inch wheels. There’s more information in the Features section.
The sportier ForFours come in two guises – Brabus and Brabus Xclusive. Exact UK specifications for these two are still being decided but they’re likely to include a sports bodykit with a rear diffuser, 17-inch alloy wheels and leather interiors.
Excellent urban manoeuvrability
The beauty about the way the Smart drives is that its engine sits in the rear, between the back wheels and beneath the boot floor. This allows the front wheels loads of room to move, and hence the ForFour’s turning circle is absolutely tiny, making it perfect for inner-city driving.
On more open expanses of road the ForFour feels stable and balanced but doesn’t deliver huge amounts of fun for enthusiastic drivers, although the Brabus editions make a better fist of things.
Find out more about this premium take on the city car with Parkers’ full Smart ForFour review.