If you must have a Forfour, this is the one to get.

It seems that the further Smart stretches its brand philosophy into the mainstream, the less we like the results. Note how we preferred the Forfour with the diminutive 1.1-litre petrol triple to one with the more conventional 1.3-litre four cylinder. 

But for this car, the signs are promising, because the diesel is a variant of the four cylinder engine fitted to the new Mercedes A-class, but with one cylinder lopped off.

The 1.5-litre unit features common-rail direct-injection and is available in either a 68bhp version or (as tested here) a 95bhp version with 155lb ft developed at 1800rpm.

Seasoned Smart drivers will instantly recognise the deep, thrummy idle that sounds at odds with the small capacity, and the surging turbo-fed power delivery once moving. Boost arrives smoothly but firmly at around 1600rpm, providing a respectable kick in the back and enough pace to give the Forfour a sprightly feel in traffic.

It’s not quiet, however, and despite the inclusion of a balancer shaft to smooth the triple’s irregular beat, vibrations can be felt through the seat and floor. Those that have bought into the whole Smart experience will no doubt call this a loveable dose of character, but for the rest of us it smacks of poor refinement.

Sadly, another Smart characteristic is the six-speed transmission’s pause between gearchanges. This is a new, improved ’box, but despite promises of a quicker shift time, each change still punctuates progress more than you’d hope. Forget to lift between changes and it’s plain awkward, becoming a chore around town. Still, the CDI is very frugal; Smart claims 64mpg on the combined cycle.

The rest tallies with our previous impressions. It’s interestingly styled, with plenty of space and a fresh approach to small car interiors. What it doesn’t do is drive in a way that makes it better than the competition. There’s negligible steering feel, the ride is choppy over larger intrusions and body roll is pronounced.

Like the Brabus Roadster below, the Forfour is an expensive way to express individuality. But if you’re taken by the Forfour’s looks, the CDI is the one to have.

Adam Towler

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • 2016 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron UK review
    First Drive
    29 September 2016
    First UK drive finds the facelifted A3 Sportback e-tron remains a first-rate plug-in hybrid that is packed with tech if a little short on driver appeal
  • Citroen C11.2 Puretech 82 Furio
    First Drive
    29 September 2016
    Citroën's city car gets a new sporty-looking trim level, adding visual adornments, but no premium for the 1.2-litre Puretech triple we're driving
  • Mercedes C350e Sport
    First Drive
    28 September 2016
    Petrol-electric C-Class is a surprisingly well-priced alternative to a diesel but not the greatest example of the new ‘PHEV’ breed
  • 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