In-depth Reviews

Smart ForFour hatchback (2014-2019) - Engines, drive & performance

Superb in the city, the Smart ForFour quickly feels out its depth at higher speeds

Carbuyer Rating

3.1 out of 5

Owners Rating

3.1 out of 5

Read owner reviews
Engines, drive & performance Rating

2.5 out of 5

The Smart ForFour has been built specifically for driving in town and this is evident the minute you get behind the wheel. It has a very small turning circle of just 8.65 metres, which almost matches that of the famously tight-turning London taxi, while the Smart's small body means it's arguably even better than a black cab on busy city streets. Smart has also given the car its Direct-Steer system. This is a form of variable-ratio steering, which means you don't have to turn the wheel as much at low speeds. At higher speeds, it increases stability.

Smart apparently took inspiration from the previous generation Mercedes C-Class when it designed the rear suspension of the ForFour. The resulting ride is far more comfortable than in the old model, coping much better with typical road-surface changes, potholes and bumps around town.

The ForFour can be fitted with sports suspension (standard on the Prime Sport) that drops the car by 10mm, stiffens up the springs and adds larger 16-inch alloy wheels.

Smart makes it clear that the ForFour was set up with comfort and safety, not sportiness, in mind. That's immediately evident when you venture out of the city, where its abilities are limited by light steering and a relative lack of grip when taking corners quickly. But it was never really intended for that kind of driving and extra sound deadening means it's slightly quieter at cruising speeds than its Renault Twingo sister model.

Smart ForFour petrol engines

We've driven both the 89bhp 0.9-litre model and the basic 70bhp 1.0-litre ForFour. Both models are available with a five-speed manual or a six-speed automatic gearbox.

Choose the 1.0-litre, 71bhp model and it'll take a leisurely 15.9 seconds to accelerate from 0-62mph, or a full second longer if you specify the automatic. This sluggishness can make the car feel vulnerable when trying to overtake slower traffic, so we recommend the manual, which is light and easy to use. That's a good thing, because the small engine needs lots of gear changes to ensure the Forfour makes steady progress on winding roads or hills.

If you can stretch to the extra outlay, the 90bhp 0.9-litre engine is well worth it. Its 0-62mph time of 11.2 seconds (11.9 if you choose the automatic) makes it a better, more relaxed and enjoyable companion on motorway jaunts.

Most Popular

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2022
Toyota Prius front 3/4 cornering
Best cars
17 Jan 2022

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2022

UK road tax 2022: VED tax rates and bands explained
2021 Road Tax explained
Car tax
20 Jan 2022

UK road tax 2022: VED tax rates and bands explained

Top 10 best economical 4x4s, SUVs and crossovers 2022
Peugeot 3008 SUV front cornering
Best cars
6 Jan 2022

Top 10 best economical 4x4s, SUVs and crossovers 2022

Tips & advice

View All
Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide
Car dashboard symbols and meanings
Tips and advice
10 Aug 2021

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide
Electric car charging station
Tips and advice
5 Nov 2021

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?
PCP vs HP
Car buying
21 Jan 2022

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?

Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Tips and advice
23 Jul 2021

Average speed cameras: how do they work?

Best cars

View All
Top 10 best car interiors 2022
Peugeot 208 hatchback
Best cars
25 Jun 2021

Top 10 best car interiors 2022

Top 10 best electric cars 2022
Ioniq 5
Best cars
19 Jan 2022

Top 10 best electric cars 2022

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2022
Toyota Prius front 3/4 cornering
Best cars
17 Jan 2022

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2022

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2022
Audi RS 3 driving - front view
Hot hatches
21 Jan 2022

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2022