Smart ForTwo hatchback

£11,125 - £14,110

The original Smart ForTwo was conceived as a two-seater car that could tackle city streets like nothing else. Famously, it was so short that you could park it nose-on to the kerb without obstructing traffic, while tiny engines kept running costs to a minimum.

As clever as it was, the original model had its fair share of faults. The automated manual gearbox was supposed to make it easy to drive in town, but in reality it was jerky and slow to shift gear. The Smart's tiny proportions also made for a bumpy ride and it felt unstable on the motorway on blustery days.

The latest ForTwo has improved matters: its twin-clutch six-speed gearbox is much smoother than before and the car generally feels more stable. The hallmarks of the original have remained, though: the engine is mounted at the back and it's still miniscule in every respect. The ForTwo is now based on the larger ForFour, which itself shares components with the Renault Twingo – another tiny city car with a rear-mounted engine.

There's a choice of two three-cylinder petrol engines – a 1.0-litre and a turbocharged 0.9-litre with more power. They’re both very cheap to run, but the extra poke from the turbo version makes the ForTwo much easier to live with, as the 1.0-litre is very sluggish.

Visually, there's no doubt the latest ForTwo is a Smart. It sits upright, while the exposed safety cell, known as Tridion, has been carried over from the previous model and is painted a different colour to the rest of the body. There are a lot of personalisation options and bright colours, both for the exterior and the cabin.

Standard equipment includes climate control, LED daytime running lights, an engine stop-start system to help save fuel, central locking and electric front windows.

Like its predecessor, the current car is hampered by a high price tag. It costs considerably more than conventional city-car rivals such as the Fiat Panda, Volkswagen up! and Hyundai i10.