My first time in the all-new 2015 forfour car from Smart was back in February when I took one over the hills and far away on the official UK launch on a very cold day on Tyneside. After that short drive I was suitably impressed with the spirited way the small city car handled the non-urban terrain more than enough to merit a second look.
The car I’ve been driving for the last week is a forfour prime 71hp (all singing, all dancing) metallic black and yellow, black leather interior with white stitching five-speed manual model.
It’s fitted with the ‘premium plus’ package (extra £1,295) featuring an impressive list of extras; rear view camera, seat warmers, front fog lamps, smart media system with multi-touch display, audio streaming, auto start/stop system and some very cool fibre-optic daytime running lamps to boot.
With all these extras (plus a forward collision warning system and DAB) the car weighs in at a fairly hefty £14,295. That’s definitely not a budget price tag and it seems Smart are targeting the car at those with a keen eye for style as apposed to buyers with one eye on the pennies.
Technically this is a Mercedes in disguise so the price tag is justified in the finish and the build quality is excellent. The doors close with a neat clunk, not a clank-y bang and the detailing on the forfour is immaculate inside and out.
Unlike the previous (slightly ugly) misconceived forfour of yesteryear the extra doors and elongated shape Smart have created (in a market place brimming with identikit boxes) is something that looks fresh and different. It’s even got a smile on its face!
While driving the seats mould nicely to your back and the dashboard is clean and uncluttered. One thing I really like is the ‘retro’ circular rev counter and clock, even if their position close to the side means you rarely (if ever) remember to look at them while driving.
Based on a Renault Twingo chassis, the ride and suspension is really smooth and the car handles well in corners. I found the 999cc, 3 cylinder petrol engine lacked a bit of oommph and acceleration on the open road can be slightly laboured, but ovaral it’s a pleasant and easy car to drive. The brakes are sharp and very firm when hard down, so much so it took me a few days to get the measure of them properly.
It’s not scared of the motorway and while wind noise is noticeable (especially if someone mentions it) drivers fatigue wasn’t a problem for me on a two hour journey from Norwich to London. 0-60mph takes a rather sedate 15.9 seconds where it does excel is in its maneuverability and practicality in the urban environment, weaving in n’ out of traffic and finding that last parking space it’s perfection in motion. The turning circle is ridiculously small (just 8.65m) and worth a test drive just to try it.
Talking of small, you can get two adults in the back, but don’t expect them to be too friendly at the other end of a long journey. CO2 emissions are just 97g/km, which means it is tax free and if you live in the big smoke, Congestion Charge free. Fuel consumption is excellent with a an official combined figure of 67.3mpg and a 2E insurance group, yearly running costs will be really low.
Style-wise it’s fighting for the fashionista pound alongside the Mini and Fiat500 and while it doesn’t have the heritage of either of those, it’s definitely a head-turner. However for a change the people that are looking aren’t petrolheads, but Yummy Mummy’s and (cough) Estate Agent types looking for a modern and yes, FUN thing to drive around.
Oh yeah… Just as I was saying goodbye to it I finally realised what it reminded me of…. Remember Angry birds?
forfour prime 71hp
0-62mph 15.9 seconds
extra urban mpg: 74.3, urban 58.9, combined 67.3
co2 g/km 97
insurance group 2E
hp 71@ 6000
maximum speed 92mpg
Car tested £14,295 (with forward collision warning system (£195), digital radio (£195) mettalic black to yellow paint (£295) + premium plus package (£1295))
For more info visit www.smart.com