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First drive: Smart Forfour. Image by Smart.

First drive: Smart Forfour
The new Smart Forfour is effectively a stretched Fortwo, and it's worth the modest premium.

   



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Smart Forfour

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5

For a premium of 495 Smart buyers can upgrade from the two-seat Fortwo to the all-new Forfour. Unlike its predecessor, it uses the Fortwo's rear-engine layout, freeing up interior space in the process. It's well-equipped, distinctive to look at and well thought out, but it's no more refined or good to drive than other city car offerings on the market - and it's not cheap.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Smart Forfour Prime 90hp
Pricing: starts at 11,620 on-the-road
Engine: 898cc turbocharged three-cylinder petrol
Transmission: rear-wheel drive, five-speed manual
Body style: five-door hatchback
CO2 emissions: 99g/km (Band A, 0 per year)
Combined fuel economy: 65.1mpg
Top speed: 96mph
0-62mph: 11.9 seconds
Power: 90hp at 5,500rpm
Torque: 135Nm at 2,500rpm

What's this?

A stretched Smart Fortwo, in essence. While the original Forfour shared its platform and layout with the conventional Mitsubishi Colt, this new model was developed alongside the Fortwo (in conjunction with Renault and its Twingo) and it shares the smaller car's rear-engine/rear-drive layout and mechanicals, including two different three-cylinder petrol engines. Like the Fortwo, it will come as standard with a five-speed manual gearbox and a dual-clutch automatic will come on stream in the middle of 2015.

Somewhat bizarrely, the Forfour has less boot space if all seats are occupied than the Fortwo has, but at 185 litres (255 litres if you pack it to the roof) it's on a par with many rivals. Nonetheless, it's possible to get four average adults into the car comfortably. Rear headroom is average for the class rather than segment-leading, though it's a little worse in versions fitted with the panoramic glass roof or the canvas sliding top. The rear doors, however, open wider than any other car's in the sector (to 85 degrees apparently), which makes it far easier to get in and out - or to get kids and their car seats in and out for that matter. ISOFIX is standard as well, plus Smart UK will fit its clever 'readyspace' seats to all versions of the Forfour. This is a simple, but effective solution to getting bigger items into the car. The rear seat bases rotate and drop down into the floor by 120mm, while the centre console can be removed entirely, creating a wide and high area that could, for example, accommodate a bulky flat screen television in its box. The rear seat backs split and fold 50:50 as well, while the front passenger seat back folds flat to allow carrying of longer items. No other car in the class does all this.

The model range mirrors that of the Fortwo, with Passion, Prime and Proxy trim levels, starting at 11,620 for the 71hp Passion model. Standard equipment not already mentioned includes 15-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, a tactile multifunction steering wheel, climate control, a 'smart' audio system, ESP stability control, Crosswind Assist, Hill Start Assist and seven airbags.

How does it drive?

Unsurprisingly, the Forfour initially feels much like the Fortwo. The driving controls are all the same, from the leather-rimmed steering wheel to the (Renault-sourced) five-speed manual gearbox lever. It weighs about 100kg more than the Fortwo so performance is dulled a little, but few cars in this class are what you'd call sprightly. The increased dimensions come with an expectation of enhanced abilities outside of the city, but in truth the Forfour isn't any more impressive than the Fortwo in that regard. Indeed, longer time on the motorway in the larger car revealed a surprising amount of wind noise - made worse in an example we also tried that had the fabric roof.

However, it keeps up with traffic easily enough and the suspension set-up is a fine balance of comfort and agility. In a series of testing corners it clung on gamely and the linear steering made it quite enjoyable to hustle, though the stability control system is quite quick to rein in exuberance. The engine isn't quiet, but neither is it raucous. More annoying in the 90hp turbo model is its delivery. At times it's difficult to smoothly accelerate and it takes some practice to change gear quickly and smoothly too. It suits driving at a more sedate pace.

Back in town, the new layout means an extraordinarily good turning circle and it's a cinch to park. Visibility is good as well. Town is undoubtedly its natural habitat.

Verdict

While the Smart Fortwo has no direct competitors in the UK, the Forfour doesn't have things so easy, which is why we've given it a harder time in our verdict. Simply put, we'd find it difficult to choose over an equivalently priced Volkswagen up!/SEAT Mii/Skoda Citigo or Hyundai i10. Saying that, it's highly distinctive inside and out, hugely customisable and has a cleverly designed cabin. All that, plus the extra sheen of quality it has over the likes of the Toyota Aygo/Citroen C1/Peugeot 108 should win it plenty of fans among those that have a little more to spend on their city car.

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Passenger Space

3 3 3 3 3 Luggage Space

4 4 4 4 4 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Driving Dynamics

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Powertrain


Shane O' Donoghue - 7 Nov 2014



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2015 Smart Forfour. Image by Smart.2015 Smart Forfour. Image by Smart.2015 Smart Forfour. Image by Smart.2015 Smart Forfour. Image by Smart.2015 Smart Forfour. Image by Smart.

2015 Smart Forfour. Image by Smart.2015 Smart Forfour. Image by Smart.2015 Smart Forfour. Image by Smart.2015 Smart Forfour. Image by Smart.2015 Smart Forfour. Image by Smart.



2015 Smart Forfour. Image by Smart.
 

2015 Smart Forfour. Image by Smart.
 

2015 Smart Forfour. Image by Smart.
 

2015 Smart Forfour. Image by Smart.
 

2015 Smart Forfour. Image by Smart.
 

2015 Smart Forfour. Image by Smart.
 

2015 Smart Forfour. Image by Smart.
 






 

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