Bright colours and funky design make this one of the cheerier options in this sector. The buzzing rear engine gives it character and it is an easy drive. forfour prices mean it faces stiff competition from very competent rivals.
- Easy to drive, light gear change, very manoeuvrable
- Contemporary design inside and out
- One of the simplest, clearest main displays (option, not standard)
- Expensive with basic options added
- Three cylinder engine coarse at low revs
- Light trim option reflects in windscreen
The forfour (meaning for four people) is smart's larger city car. Like its smaller fortwo sibling, it has its engine at the rear (driving the rear wheels) keeping the body short for urban agility. It also shares its platform with the latest Renault Twingo, but the smart's exterior styling is bolder and fresher. Like the fortwo, the colouring of the roof, sills and C-pillars highlight the car's exoskeleton (or Tridion Safety Cell as smart calls it). This retains the family resemblance and keeps the forfour very recognisable as a smart.
The engine over the rear axle means there is a high boot floor and the shorter nose doesn't contain any further storage so its overall capacity is limited. That said, with the wheel-in-each-corner stance, passenger space is ample and boasting rear doors which open to almost 90 degrees, it is easy to climb in and out.
At the heart of the forfour is its 898cc three cylinder engine, aurally not dissimilar from that in the fortwo with its busy off-beat thrum. In that sense, it maintains the spirit of smart. In action though, below 2,000 rpm, it is less than lively and there's a fair bit of vibration with the accelerator to the floor. This means holding third gear in a 30mph speed limit is more restful than grabbing fourth. Above 2,000 rpm it is somewhat frantic, although revs climb quickly and the light, precise gear change of the five-speed manual means it's enjoyable to work the gears. With a kerb weight of less than a tonne, it also feels fairly spritely. Our test car is the more powerful 90 hp (91 PS) model so it builds speed quickly and is happy bowling along on dual carriageways and motorways; while a little less lively, the 70 hp (71 PS) output is still perfectly adequate.
The interior of the forfour is fresh and funky. There is ample storage space around the cabin (including a sideways pull-out drawer in the central console) and the overall appearance is contemporary. Spherical air vents sit atop the dashboard, as does the combined rev counter and clock. Specified with white bezels, these items do all reflect in the windscreen. Apart from that, ergonomics are reasonable and switchgear is conventional so it is simple to operate. The optional touch screen interface is particularly clear and easy to use.
The forfour starts at £11,265 which, if loaded with goodies wouldn't be too bad. However, it misses out on what might be considered essentials, certainly for its potentially younger customer base: DAB radio, Bluetooth connectivity, auto lights and wipers and electrically adjustable door mirrors must all be added on. The Premium Plus pack addresses most of this (and adds the navigation and rear-view camera) for £1,295. The DAB radio is a further £195. This puts it at the door of a number of accomplished B-segment cars like the Fiat 500 and MINI while being undercut by many other top specification city cars.
The forfour does have a trump card up its sleeve though. Having its engine placed at the rear provides greater space for the front wheels to swivel, in turn delivering a class-leading turning circle which almost rivals that of a London Taxi.
Need To Know
- Volkswagen up!
- Fiat 500
- MINI One
Quality & Reliability
Value for Money