Parkers overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 3.5
  • Bold but functional dashboard
  • Vibrant colours on Passion trim
  • Maintains Smart’s premium image

Unsurprisingly the Smart Forfour’s dashboard is a facsimile of the one found in the Fortwo. That means bulbous gauges, sprouting instrument pods, bold shapes and materials and, on the Proxy at least, vibrant colours. An awful lot of thought’s gone into making it look fresh and modern without it becoming unusable.

Immediately in front of you is a large speedometer with a 3.5-inch trip computer nestled within it.

The materials are good too, with a smattering of soft-touch plastics, while the three-spoke steering wheel with fingertip controls looks rather grown-up.

The audio system looks somewhat aftermarket with the smartphone cradle in use and we much prefer the look and operation of the Smart media system with its slick touchscreen, but you’ll pay more for that. It’s a rebranded version of Renault’s R-Link package and you’ll find much of the switchgear is also sourced from the French brand.

We found it relatively easy to find a good driving position, particularly with the Comfort package installed, and there was great visibility too. Unfortunately the ForFour suffers from firm front seats – we struggled with back comfort on longer trips and without lumbar adjustment there’s little that can be done to improve this. Worse still, their chunky backrests encroach on rear space and slotting adults behind others in the Smart will be tough.

Smart have positioned the Electric Drive model upmarket, with leather seats and the Smart media system installed as standard. Occupying the centre console with a minimalist touchscreen interface, this Renault-derived setup falls miserably short of modern user interface requirements. Using media or hands-free features interrupts navigation display, and steering wheel controls are limited to volume and the rather unresponsive (TomTom developed) voice control.

Comfort

  • Rear engine means more passenger space
  • Supportive front seats; rear headroom tight
  • More sound deadening than Twingo sister car

Thanks to a 100mm wider body than the original Smart Forfour, comfort levels are much improved. There’s a lot of shoulder room, easily enabling two adults to occupy the rear seats. The small rear windows do feel a little claustrophobic and only pop open rather than slide down into the door, though children likely won’t notice. It’s worth noting that the rear seats are an individual pair, rather than a bench, which looks good but means you’ll never squeeze more than four occupants in.

The rear doors are on the small side, which is fine for kids, but tight for lankier adults though the doors do open to 85 degrees. And the boot is a reasonable 185 litres, which isn’t all that bad considering the Smart’s rump also hosts the engine, and can be expanded to a generous 975 litres. Don’t expect any extra space under the ‘bonnet’ though, as there is none.

We noticed a fair bit of wind noise when travelling at speed, but other than that the Forfour is very quiet when you’re driving and suffers little of the engine vibration that’s all too apparent in the smaller Fortwo.

Having the engine at the rear helps improve the passenger experience, liberating more room for people with no motor shoehorned under the front bonnet. The downside is that an engine under the boot floor can be noisier, so Smart has fitted an extra 40kg of sound deadening around the car when compared with the Twingo.

It’s a comfortable car in which to drive around town, with a supple ride quality and the seats are comfy, although a bit more lateral support wouldn’t go amiss. Unfortunately its tendency to list around corners is off-putting and while there’s ample space in the back for adults, taller people may well find that headroom’s compromised – the back pair are better suited to kids.