Parkers overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 3.5

Miles per pound (mpp) Miles per pound (mpp)

Petrol engines 9.3 - 10.2 mpp
Low figures relate to the least economical version; high to the most economical. Based on WLTP combined fuel economy for versions of this car made since September 2017 only, and typical current fuel or electricity costs.

Fuel economy

Petrol engines 43.5 - 47.9 mpg

  • Both engines offer similar levels of fuel economy
  • 90hp offers 47.9mpg potential
  • Electric drive for zero emissions

The good news is running costs are low regardless of which Smart Forfour you decide is best for you.

Performing the best is the turbocharged 90hp model, with a claimed average fuel consumption of between 45.6 and 47.9mpg in both manual and Twinamic auto guises.

If your budget can't quite stretch to one of these, the naturally-aspirated 71hp isn't far behind with fuel consumption ranging between 43.5 and 45.6mpg The automatic version fares better with 43.5 and 47.1mpg.

As it has low-power engines and lots of safety kit, we’d expect the Forfour to be cheap to insure, too.

The firm is also offering fixed-price service plans, which should make Smart Forfour running costs a bit easier to budget for, but it remains an expensive car to buy in the first place.

Naturally suited to cities and small urban commutes under ten miles or 25 minutes, the electric version of the Forfour is also highly appealing as a second car for rural life. Where petrol or diesel engines take time to warm up and are their least efficient on short journeys, the Smart is ready to go and close to peak efficiency from cold. If you have solar panels or wind generation on site, too, it can be quickly and cheaply charged.

How do driving conditions affect the electric Smart EQ Forfour?

As with conventional cars, the circumstances of your drive can have an effect on the economy and performance you get. Even the smallest engines produce waste heat, which is used for the car’s heater; in the case of the Smart EQ Forfour, that has a direct drain on the battery.

Charging the battery through regenerative braking means having to build up speed again, which also takes a remarkable toll – coasting may require 11Kw, accelerating – even gently – usually goes up to 30Kw.

This is all directly, and fairly, comparable with a petrol car. That same vehicle returning 60mpg when cruising on a flat road will drop to 20mpg to climb a hill. However, the petrol vehicle is carrying enough fuel to do over 400 miles in the best case scenario; the EQ Forfour only has enough for 96 miles.

Cold weather, rain, fast roads, passengers, having to drive for longer than 20 minutes – the time by which a pre-heated Smart begins to feel a bit chilly if you leave the heater off – all push the range down. Refilling isn’t a case of five minutes in an easily accessed service station, either. A full charge takes well over two hours even at the highest rate; domestic sockets take 7 hours. You can’t exactly flag someone down and ask for a lift to buy more fuel either.

Green credentials

  • All Forfours emit under 125g/km of CO2
  • Stop-start system fitted as standard
  • EQ offers zero-emissions driving

Low emissions are a Smart Forfour strength with only the brawnier Brabus editions not managing to dip below 100g/km of CO2.

At 104g/km the Brabus is hardly one to avoid and it’s only slightly inferior to the best of the petrol-engined range, the 71hp, at 97g/km.

If zero-emissions motoring appeals to you, then the EQ produces nothing at the tailpipe – it has none. A home equipped with solar, turbine or other renewable sources capable of providing 10A for around 8 hours can charge the Smart fully; it’s about the same drain as leaving a hairdryer or 2kW heater on for the duration.

Which Smart Forfour is best as a company car?

The cheapest entry point into a Smart Forfour as a company car is the lower-powered 71hp engine, costing just under £50 per month for a 20% taxpayer, based on 2018/19 rates. Choosing the automatic gearbox option for either engine will result in a lower BIK tax band of 1% compared with the manual equivalent, but the higher list price means it will still cost more per month.

  P11D BIK rate (%) Monthly BIK cost (20%) mpg (WLTP)
71hp urbanshadow manual 12,485 24 49.94 43.5-45.6
71hp urbanshadow auto 13,480 23 51.67 43.5-47.1
90hp urbanshadow manual 13,080 25 54.50 45.6-47.9
90hp urbanshadow auto 14,075 24 56.30 45.6-47.9

Reliability

  • Cabin feels of good quality, if ageing
  • Build quality is strong – few rattles
  • Subjected to a number of recalls

We don’t think Smart Forfour reliability should cause you too many headaches. It feels like a solid, well-built car which should serve many years of hard service.

The parts are either designed by Smart – which is owned by Mercedes and thus well made – or Renault, which has done a lot of work in recent times to rebuke claims of unreliability.

The EQ model should be pain-free to own; simple servicing needs and proven BEV running gear that has not been a cause for concern in other Renault-group electric cars.

There was one recall in 2016 involving the Smart rolling away. This was due to gearbox being unable to engage Park properly.

Ongoing running costs

Road tax (12 months) £0 - £150
See tax rates for all versions
Insurance group 1 - 30
How much is it to insure?