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It’s been seven years since the Smart ForTwo car first hit the roads.
Since then the iconic rear-wheel drive vehicle car has been through three generational upgrades and been sold over 1.7 million times across 46 countries.
Despite being well known for their tiny two-seater car, the folks at Daimler AG (the German brand that makes the Smart ForTwo) decided to introduce the Smart ForFour, a (you’ve guessed it) four-seater version of the mini motor.
This was back in 2004, but due to poor demand it only lasted two years before it was pulled off the market.
However 2014 saw the release of the newest Smart Forfour. Marketed as the next step after the tiny Smart Fortwo (an extra £495 gets you the basic Forfour model), it faces some tough competition in the form of other compact city run-arounds, like the Chevrolet Spark, Suzuki Alto, Hyundai i10, Seat Mii and VW Up!
So, could it be the perfect car for expanding families, who still need the benefit of a smaller car when doing the school run or weekly shop?
What’s difference between a Smart fortwo and a Smart Forfour car?
The new model looks more pug-nosed than its predecessor (designed to facilitate tight parking) and is based on the Renault Twingo – which actually costs £2,000 less.
The old ForFour was based on the Mitsubishi Colt. It has retained the height of the Fortwo, and the wide-opening doors and high seat positions, making it easy to climb in and out of.
A tall driver (I’m 6’4 – see picture) can be comfortable, although the person behind may not.
How does it drive?
It’s a bit disappointing. You expect super-minis to be fun and nippy, especially when you’re the only one in it, but it feels underpowered even then.
Having said that, when loaded up with a little family, the performance feels about the same – just a little more stable with that extra weight.
Is it a dream come true for parents?
This car would be great for a one-car family, but once you’ve seen the competition, such as the VW Up! and many others, it would be hard to justify the extra cost, apart from the prestige of having a brand which, a decade ago, was the thing to have.
However, it does have the smallest turning circle in its class (8½ metres), so can manage a u-turn on wider suburban streets in one go.
Space in the back is rather tight, even with the extra height – four tall adults would feel pretty cramped.
While it does have two ISOFIX attachments in the back, you can only really fit a rear-facing infant car seat in – as a bracket extension for older children would have nowhere to go. And there would be no way you could fit three car seats in it.
Are there any special features for kids?
No. The black and orange colour scheme is fun, but you’ll still have to play Spot the Cow with them on motorways.
Is there any clever storage built in?
The back seats fold down to give extra boot space, however even when upright, the boot can take a surprising amount of gear.
We managed to squeeze our 25kg bell tent, travel cot, mammoth double sleeping bag, airbed and tarp into it for a rainy camping trip, with our McLaren and a few carrier bags of clothes and food in the back seats.
What are the Smart ForFour safety features?
It has everything you’d expect from a modern car. Its alarm system has an immobiliser and it comes with abs brakes, crosswind assist, cruise control with a limiter, automatic locking when moving, electronic stability programme (esp), airbags.
Plus a knee bag for the driver and side bags for front seats – plus the usual seatbelt reminder for driver and passenger.
It doesn’t have a reminder for the back, however, so you won’t know if your kids have decided to unhook themselves.
You can buy a forward collision warning system for £195, and a lane keeping assist system for £295, if you want.
What’s the resale value?
It’s likely to be among the best in class, along with the VW Up!, due to its status, quirky paint job and build quality.
Cost to run?
The Forfour Passion 71hp on-the-road price, including VAT, delivery charges, number plates and road fund licence is £11,620.
All ForFours are tax-free because of low CO2 emissions and are very competitive in terms of miles per gallon with the other cars in the class.
Made for Mums verdict:
A good, fun-looking run-around for domestic use that has much to commend it. However, anyone used to having a bit of power underfoot test should drive a few of its cheaper rivals before committing.