Review: Smart Forfour (2014 – 2019)
Excellent turning circle. Very easy to park. Compact size. Low emissions. Proving to be more popular than Renault Twingo stablemate.
71PS engine lacks grunt out of town. More expensive than rival cars.
Smart Forfour (2014 – 2019): At A Glance
- New prices start from £10,495
- Contract hire deals from £127.90 per month
- Insurance Groups are between 2–12
- On average it achieves 74% of the official MPG figure
At face value the Smart Forfour seems pointless, since most people would only buy a Smart for its tiny, two-seater layout - but in reality the Forfour is arguably a better buy. It is still very small, but it comes with the added practicality of a bigger boot, two more seats and numerous practical touches to make urban life easier.
In towns and cities the Forfour feels just as compact, lithe and nimble as the smaller Fortwo, with a tight turning circle that makes small spaces and multi-storey car parks a doddle. The light controls and short length make town-driving incredibly easy. Go for an entry-level 71PS 1.0-litre engine and there’s enough zip for narrow streets, but at higher speeds it feels out of breath and lacks any punch.
Thankfully, if you spend time on motorways and dual carriageways the 90PS 0.9-litre turbocharged petrol engine is perfectly capable, offering noticeably more torque and far better performance. Both engine options are clean and frugal, with emissions below 100g/km and official economy figures of 67.3mpg for the 71PS engine and 65.7mpg for the 90PS engine.
Obviously the main difference between the Fortwo and the Forfour is the addition of two rear seats. These have space underneath for storage, or they can be folded in two ways. Either the seat bottoms can be flipped down for storing tall items or the seat backs can be folded forward to give a good-sized, flat load area of 975 litres.
This added practicality comes at the expense of size – the Forfour is 800mm longer than the Fortwo. However in reality the Forfour is noticeably shorter than a Ford Fiesta, so it never feels like a large car. If you like the Smart styling and urban capability but the Fortwo’s lack of space has been offputting, the Forfour is precisely what you’ve been looking for.
The price is fairly steep though – rivals like the Volkswagen Up are just as practical and are as cheap to run, but cost less to buy. Similarly the new Renault Twingo, with which the Forfour shares the majority of its major components, is cheaper to buy. It is still easy to recommend the Forfour though, thanks to good levels of standard equipment and quirky styling.
What does a Smart Forfour (2014 – 2019) cost?
Smart Forfour (2014 – 2019): What's It Like Inside?
Obviously the biggest difference between the Forfour and the Fortwo is the addition of two additional individual seats. They aren’t particularly large or particularly comfortable, but they’re fine for children. Adults will be OK on a shorter journey, with about enough leg and headroom. The rear doors open to 85 degrees which is especially useful when loading child seats.
The boot is quite small at 185 litres (A Ford Fiesta has 290), but to make up for it you can flip the bases of the rear seats over and down for loading tall boxes or other bulky items. You can also fold the rear seat backs completely flat, freeing up a useful 975 litres of flat space. The load lip is high, since the engine lives under the floor, but it’s not so high as to be a problem.
Up front the Smart feels more or less identical to its smaller Fortwo brother – and that’s no bad thing. The layout is quirky and characterful yet user-friendly, with simple, intuitive controls. A touchscreen system with navigation is available and it’s easy to get to grips with, but you could save some money and opt for the mobile phone cradle with built in charger instead.
Material quality is generally quite good. The plastics are sturdy and hard rather than plush and luxurious, but the ambience of the cabin is lifted thanks to a coloured fabric dashboard covering. There are a few areas that could be improved though – the passenger door, for example, has an unsightly plug where left-hand drive models would have the mirror adjuster.
There’s a handy little drawer under the gear lever for storing sweets or change out of sight, which is useful since the glovebox is pathetically small and awkwardly shaped. Thankfully the door pockets are a reasonable size and there is a pair of useful cupholders. There’s also a removable storage box that fits between the rear seats, with space for odds and ends or drinks.
Equipment levels are good – all cars get alloy wheels, a multi-function steering wheel, remote central locking, air conditioning, cruise control, hill start assist, electric winows, Aux connectivity and Bluetooth. Upper models gain luxury touches like heated seats, bigger wheels and a panoramic roof.
Passion models get 15-inch alloy wheels, manually adjustable door mirrors, a rear cargo box, multi-function steering wheel, 12v socket, climate control, remote central locking, electric windows, colour multifunction instrument screen, audio system with Aux, USB and Bluetooth, stop/start, crosswind assist, cruise control with limiter, hill start assist, two ISOFIX mounting points, tyre pressure monitor.
Prime trim adds a panoramic glass roof, alternate design 15-inch alloy wheels, sunglasses golder, leather upholstery, heated front seats and lane keep assist.
Proxy is the top trim and adds 16-inch alloy wheels, brushed stainless steel pedals, 10mm lower suspension and a chome-plated tail pipe.
Child seats that fit a Smart Forfour (2014 – 2019)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Smart Forfour (2014 – 2019) like to drive?
Buyers of the Smart Forfour can choose between two small petrol engines – a 1.0-litre three-cylinder with 71PS or a 0.9-litre three-cylinder turbo with 90PS. Both produce less than 100g/km of CO2, meaning free annual road tax – plus they are efficient.
The 71PS engine has an official economy figure of 67.3mpg, slightly better than the 65.7mpg of the 90PS engine. In reality you’re unlikely to see much difference between the two in terms of fuel consumption, but you will see a serious difference in performance – the 71PS engine lacks punch at anything above town speeds.
It’s fine at 30 or 40mph, but once on a dual carriageway it feels out of its depth. If you spend any amount of time on national speed limit roads then the 90PS engine is the one to go for thanks to its 135Nm torque output, versus 91Nm for the less powerful engine. It’s peppy and lively enough for overtaking slower traffic or getting up steep hills without changing down through the gears.
The Forfour has a rear-engine, rear-wheel drive layout which is very rare in modern cars. The biggest advantage of this is a very tight turning circle, since the front wheels have a lot more space to steer. U-turns, tight parking spaces, narrow streets and multi-storey car parks are made far easier by this arrangement.
Despite all the weight being at the rear the Forfour never feels unstable, even when cornering at high speed. There isn’t very much in the way of body roll, but the car does thump and jiggle its way over lumps, bumps and potholes and the steering could do with just a little more weight on a fun, twisting stretch of road.
Refinement is good, thanks largely to the engine being in the back, rather than immediately in front of the dashboard. Even at motorway speeds the 90PS engine hums away quietly, but the 71PS option is a little louder, since it needs to be worked that much harder to get up to speed.
The old Smart was offered with an automated manual transmission that was very sluggish and lethargic when it came to changing gear. In the new Forfour and Fortwo this has been replaced with a twin-clutch auto that is far slicker and much better suited to town driving, where nipping up to speed quickly is essential.
|0.9||52–66 mpg||11.2 s||99–122 g/km|
|0.9 Automatic||54–67 mpg||10.5–11.9 s||98–117 g/km|
|1.0 71||54–67 mpg||15.9–16.9 s||96–117 g/km|
|1.0 71 Automatic||57–67 mpg||16.9 s||96–112 g/km|
Real MPG average for a Smart Forfour (2014 – 2019)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.
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