From £9,220
Forfour best with a three

Our Verdict

Smart Fortwo 2007-2014
The design of the ForTwo stretches back to the Eco Sprinter and Eco Speedster concepts of 1993

The Smart Fortwo is a unique proposition. Its emotional appeal is unquestionable and it is one of the most novel and innovative cars available.

  • First Drive

    Smart Fortwo Electric Drive

Electric power suits this perky Smart, which works well as city wheels. And with a £5000 government subsidy it’s well-priced, too
  • First Drive

    Smart Fortwo Brabus

    Hot hatch looks for refreshed Fortwo city car, but it’s still a case of style over substance

What does Smart stand for? Quirky, small, lightweight trendy transport, perhaps. But that doesn’t necessarily compute when the demands of creating a supermini to match Europe’s best are the requirements. And that’s the new Smart Forfour in a nutshell.

Despite the avant-garde styling that fits perfectly with the more esoteric members of the range, underneath is a thoroughly conventional (and far from perfect) supermini. And one that’s lacking in the character so abundant in the others.

Or that’s what we thought until we drove the Forfour 1.1-litre three-cylinder. Basically, this is the only one that’s going to remotely satisfy if you’ve already bought into the brand.

If you want proof that an engine can radically alter a car’s character, here it is. With the 75bhp three-cylinder under the bonnet, the boominess of the four cylinders disappears, as does the rather ordinary way it goes about its business. Instead, you get a real perkiness – the pleasing, hummy throb that only a three-cylinder petrol can provide – and a shade more flexibility at low revs.

Admittedly, outright performance suffers, especially when you’re attempting to recover from an enforced drop in pace, but the aural rewards are worth it.

So, too, are the benefits to ride quality when the smaller and lighter motor is installed. All Forfours have a tendency to crash over potholes and telegraph too much road scarring into the cabin, but the 1.1 takes some of the edge off this and generally feels more supple. It resists understeer for longer, too.

Elsewhere, it’s business as usual for Smart’s supermini. The cabin can keep four rangy adults in comfort and the rear seat, which slides fore and aft by 150mm, lets you choose between people space and boot space.

We like the way it looks and feels, too. It’s funky without being flash and feels refreshingly unconventional. But if you want the driving experience to match, you’d better stick with the 1.1.

Chas Hallett

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Car review
    23 September 2016
    Aston kicks off its ‘second century plan’ with an all-new turbo V12 grand tourer
  • Ford Ka+ 1.2 Ti-VCT 85
    First Drive
    22 September 2016
    A rounded, refined and well-sorted bargain supermini – once you’re used to the confusing role redefinition imposed on the once-cheeky Ka
  •  Maserati Ghibli Diesel
    First Drive
    22 September 2016
    Maserati releases another range of updates for its range best seller, the Ghibli. We've driven the diesel version, but there's little improvement on before
  • Tipo Front
    First Drive
    21 September 2016
    New Fiat Tipo offers impressive space and practicality for a reasonable price. We try the 1.6 diesel on the demanding roads of North Wales
  • Seat Ateca 1.4 TSI 150
    First Drive
    20 September 2016
    The Seat Ateca 1.4 TSI 150 makes perfect sense: it's spacious, tidy to drive for an SUV and cheap to run