This car has been superseded by a newer model, click here to go to the latest Smart Forfour (15-19) review.

Parkers overall rating: 3 out of 5 3.0

The entry-level engine is a 1.1-litre with a modest 64bhp. It’s a three-cylinder engine so has an unusual sound, but despite the modest figures is nippy enough around town and quick away from the lights. It can struggle on bigger roads though and 0-62mph takes a leisurely 15.3 seconds, but economy is good with an average of 52mpg. This engine is also available with 75bhp, which brings the 0-62mph time to 13.4 seconds.

The mid-level petrol unit is a 1.3-litre with 95bhp which accelerates from 0-62mph in a respectable 10.8 seconds and feels much better when joining fast flowing traffic, although it still needs to be worked pretty hard. The top petrol is a 109bhp 1.5-litre which comes exclusively in Pulse trim (later changed to Passion) and feels nippy with 0-62mph taking 9.8 seconds.

There are two versions of the 1.5 cdi – either 68bhp or 95bhp. Like the 1.1-litre petrol, this is a three-cylinder engine, so isn’t particularly quiet, especially when revved hard, but it does offer decent in-gear punch for overtaking. The 68bhp can struggle a little though – the 95bhp feels far happier at higher speeds and pulls well. Economy is an impressive 61mpg in both (64mpg in the automatic version).

All cars come with a slick five-speed manual gearbox as standard while a six-speed automatic, known as softouch, is available as an option. In 2005 a high performance Brabus version was launched. This uses a turbocharged 1.5-litre engine (different from the standard model) with an impressive 177bhp. As a result it can race from 0-62mph in just 6.9 seconds and is great fun to drive.

The Forfour is easy to drive in town thanks to light steering and a precise gear shift. The optional softouch automatic takes some getting used to though, it’s not all that predictable and can be quite frustrating to use when driving quicker. On open roads the handling is tidy and the Forfour composed, while there’s decent body control in corners. The Brabus model has a much sportier set-up with sharper steering and stiffer suspension.

It’s great fun on twisting roads thanks to an agile nature, but some drivers may want more feel through the steering.