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Smart Forfour review

Smart by name and smart by nature, the Forfour may be based on the Renault Twingo yet it’s very much its own car. It has the looks and practicality of the more common Fortwo, with much more practicality and flair. Can it bridge the gap between novelty small cars and practical city run-arounds? 


The second generation Forfour - introduced in 2014 - was a considerable advance on the model that came before, which was generally judged to be not what the super-mini driving public wanted at all.  

The latest Forfour from Smart has cheeky looks, while the distinctive range of colour combinations have proved to be a whole lot more popular. Now there’s even an all-electric version called the EQ in the range, with its own distinctive colourways.  

Its two-tone appearance is for more than just aesthetic reasons. The area at the back of the car in a contrasting colour shows the Tridion safety structure that has helped the car to earn a four-star NCAP safety rating. 

grey and orange smart forfour

The latest Forfour from Smart has cheeky looks.

What’s it like to drive?

You probably wouldn’t want to head off on a 100 mile-plus journey in the Forfour – and it would be a recipe for disaster in the electric version whose range is a maximum of 99 miles. For buzzing around town, though, there are few cars to beat it.  

As the engine is below the boot area, it means the front wheel can turn further than in front-engined cars. This gives it a tiny 8.65 metre turning circle. The only other car on the road that can better that is a black cab. Its suspension has also been tuned to take the rough with the smooth on ridged and potholed city streets.  

gold and black smart forfour

For buzzing around town, though, there are few cars to beat it.   


Smart has gone all out in trying to make the interior of the Forfour match its premium price while also being distinctive, fresh and ultra-modern. The dashboard alone is an exercise in simplicity with lots of nice touches including air-con that can be adjusted with a slider mechanism. 

The driver’s faced with a large speedo featuring a 3.5-inch trip computer and buttons on the three-spoke steering wheel to control the car’s sound system. Higher-spec models come with a touchscreen-based on the Renault R-Link system, which is easy and intuitive to use. 

When it comes to comfort, you’ll have to remember this is a car for short hops across town, not long motorway journeys. The front seats are not ergonomically designed, although the rear engine means there’s plenty of leg room for the front seat passenger. The back seats are a little cramped, which means adult passengers may not always thank you for the ride. 

Smart say that there are up to 40 different colour combinations of interior and upholstery so you’re certain to come across many different looks in used Forfours – even though this is unlikely to be a dealmaker, or a dealbreaker, if you have your heart set on one. 

orange smart forfour interior


You’re not buying a Forfour for the boot space. So you won’t be too heartbroken when you hear that it’s limited in that department.  

It means you can forget the big family shops, unless you also want to put the back seats down, or at least click them into an upright position that does create quite a useful rectangular storage space. That said, fold them down completely and fold down the front passenger seat as well and you have extra room. 

One practical feature is that the back doors open up by 85 degrees making it relatively easy for rear seat passengers to climb in or out or to manoeuvre little ones into child seats without hurting their backs. 

Running costs and reliability

You’ll become something of a stranger to the staff at your local filling station once you pick up the keys to your used Forfour. The three-cylinder 0.9-litre turbocharged engine will give an average of around 50 mpg and the 1.0-litre will give you around 45 mpg.  

If you decide to go all-electric, the official figure is 99 miles on a single charge. Factors like wind, and even using the heater, can cut this figure quite dramatically. 

In terms of reliability, all the main components are either made by Renault or Mercedes-Benz which should mean you can be confident they won’t let you down. 

What we love

The Smart Forfour has taken all the plus points of the smaller Fortwo and made them even better. The fact that this is now a supermini that can carry four at a push makes it an even more appealing prospect for anyone who lives an urban existence or just wants a second car for nipping around their area.

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As we’ve said, smart by name, smart by nature. A lot of thought has gone into making virtues of the car’s small size and over coming many of the issues you’ll find in other superminis. So it’s a natural choice for all, except for the very tall who could find it just a bit of a squeeze.

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