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First UK drive: Smart Forfour 71hp. Image by Richard Pardon.

First UK drive: Smart Forfour 71hp
The 'bigger' of the Smart car range, with two extra doors and seats, has arrived in the UK.

   



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Smart Forfour 71hp

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The Smart Forfour has never been quite as appealing as the Fortwo, given it's a less idiosyncratic car than its smaller sibling, and despite plenty of improvements to the formula for the second generation, that feeling of it being the poor relation remains. It has the same excellent interior design and naturally more space than the Fortwo, but there are better and, crucially at this end of the market, cheaper five-door hatchbacks out there available from more 'conventional' manufacturers.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Smart Forfour Proxy 71hp
Pricing: Forfour range starts from 11,620; Proxy 71hp from 12,315
Engine: 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol
Transmission: rear-wheel drive, five-speed manual transmission
Body style: five-door hatchback
CO2 emissions: 97g/km (VED Band A, 0 annually)
Combined economy: 67.3mpg
Top speed: 94mph
0-62mph: 15.9 seconds
Power: 71hp at 6,000rpm
Torque: 91Nm at 2,850rpm

What's this?

The larger of the Smart car range, the Forfour. The name is something of a giveaway; this is a revival of a badge that died back in 2006 after the first iteration spent a short two years on sale. However, this time around the exterior looks and cabin have been homogenised with the Fortwo, leading to the Forfour simply looking like a stretched version of its sibling rather than a completely different car.

As with the Fortwo, the exterior looks aren't to all tastes - there's a certain frog-like appearance to the front lights, grille and bumper - and the extra doors/length don't really suit the bulgy styling any better. Nevertheless, the Forfour does have the same superb interior, with classy switchgear, some sharp styling touches, plenty of standard equipment throughout the range and a general feeling of top quality, while it can carry three people in the back (just about) and a bit more luggage besides.

Also, there's a bonus in the price lists in that you only pay 495 more for the extra metal of a Forfour when stacked up against a comparable model Fortwo.

How does it drive?

There's one area where the Forfour definitely beats the Fortwo, and that's in ride quality. With front-seat occupants further isolated from the rear axle, the Forfour does a better job of evaporating away the imperfections of the road surface beneath its tyres. Although rear passengers might beg to differ on that score.

The rest of the package is as per the Fortwo, but yet not quite as perky thanks to the Forfour lugging around an extra 95- to 115kg, specification depending. We drove the 71hp normally aspirated engine, which - after the slightly sticky throttle action in the 90hp turbocharged Fortwo - had an accelerator pedal that allowed much better modulation of the engine's grunt. However, without a turbo there's a noticeable lack of such a commodity (take a look at its meagre torque and 0-62mph figures as a framework), meaning to join dual carriageways and above at anything like a meaningful speed, you've got to thrash the bejesus out of the Forfour in the lower gears to attain cruising speed. Maybe the solution to our concerns over motive power would be to opt for the 90hp turbo engine in the bigger Smart, and the 71hp engine in the Fortwo.

The Forfour has decent steering and brakes though, and can be as refined on a cruise as the Fortwo in terms of noise intrusion into the passenger compartment, but the whole experience seems less special than it does in the smaller Smart - maybe that's because you know there's a whole slew of 'normal' B-segment hatches out there that can do this sort of affordable all-round capability better.

Verdict

While the Smart Forfour is - in isolation - a largely successful elongation of the Fortwo, in the wider automotive world it competes in a more congested marketplace in which there are some very tough competitors; the Volkswagen Polo (and pretty much any Volkswagen Group B-segment offering), the Ford Fiesta, the all-new Mazda2... The existence of such cars, coupled with the Smart Forfour's so-so driving manners and robust list price, mean it's not as easy a car for us to recommend as the Fortwo, a machine that's something truly individual.

3 3 3 3 3 Exterior Design

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Luggage Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

3 3 3 3 3 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 17 Feb 2015



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2015 Smart Forfour. Image by Richard Pardon.
 

2015 Smart Forfour. Image by Richard Pardon.
 

2015 Smart Forfour. Image by Richard Pardon.
 

2015 Smart Forfour. Image by Richard Pardon.
 

2015 Smart Forfour. Image by Richard Pardon.
 

2015 Smart Forfour. Image by Richard Pardon.
 

2015 Smart Forfour. Image by Richard Pardon.
 

2015 Smart Forfour. Image by Richard Pardon.
 

2015 Smart Forfour. Image by Richard Pardon.
 






 

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