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What Car? says

2 out of 5 stars

For The ForFour is one of the most stylish superminis, and it's an enjoyable drive

Against It’s pricey, even used. The ride is too firm, too

Verdict It's the best car Smart has made, but it's expensive and not as good as its rivals

Go for… 95bhp 1.5 CDI Pulse

Avoid… 1.3-litre petrol

Smart Forfour Hatchback
  • 1. Firm suspension gives a jiggly low-speed ride - but excellent handling
  • 2. Avoid the 1.3-litre model. The best version is the 95bhp diesel
  • 3. Avoid the jerky semi-automatic gearbox, and always choose a manual
  • 4. The steering and grip are very good
  • 5. Four-seat layout makes this Smart's most practical car
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Smart Forfour Hatchback full review with expert trade views

The Forfour is the best car Smart has built. Its four-seat layout makes it more practical than the rest of the company's range, which only have two seats. In addition, it’s the best Smart to drive, with composed handling, plenty of grip and accurate steering. It also has all the style the Smart brand is famous for, both inside and out, and the build quality is very solid.

However much better the Forfour is than other Smarts, though, it still lags behind its best competitors in a number of areas. The firm suspension that makes for such good handling makes for a jiggly low-speed ride, and while most of the engines perform well, the 1.3 is best left alone.

The big problem is price. The Forfour is significantly more expensive than most competitors and, because the car hasn’t been out that long, it’ll take time for used examples to come down in price.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Over-priced and quirky. 1.1 underpowered. 1.5 diesel best for resale

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

A wide range of engines means there’s a lot of choice. Petrols include 1.0, 1.1, 1.3 and 1.5 versions, and they all give decent performance, with outputs ranging from 64bhp for the 1.0 to 109bhp for the 1.5. The 95bhp 1.3 is the one to avoid. While performance is fine, it sounds too coarse.

There’s also a Brabus performance car, which uses a tweaked 1.5 to give 177bhp. It’s very quick, beating a Volkswagen Golf GTI to 60mph, but it’s also very expensive.

Diesel fans can choose from two versions of the same 1.5-litre turbodiesel, one giving 68bhp and one giving 95bhp. Both are pretty good, but we’d choose the more powerful one. It’s a bit more expensive, but worth it for the extra power you get.

Whichever you choose, try to find one with a regular manual gearbox, because the semi-automatic 'box is too jerky in full auto mode.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Passion with 1.5 CDI 95bhp, or 1.3 Pulse on price

James Ruppert
Used car guru

Forfour ownership isn’t cheap. It was pricier than most competitors as a new car, and even though residuals aren’t all that strong, used examples are still rather expensive because the car is too new for depreciation to have really taken its toll. As a result, prices haven’t really come down all that much.

It is cheap to run, though, and most Forfours will better 50mpg. Only the 1.3 and 1.5 petrols fail to achieve this, but both get close. Even the fiery Brabus gives an average of 41.5mpg, which isn’t bad considering its power and performance.

The Brabus doesn’t fare as well on insurance, though, being in group 16. However, the rest of the range is more sensible, with classifications ranging from group 4 for the 1.0 to group 7 for the 95bhp diesel.

Smart owners will also pay plenty when it comes to servicing, because the costs for routine maintenance are significantly higher than for most competitors.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Over-priced and quirky. 1.1 underpowered. 1.5 diesel best for resale

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

The Forfour came out in July 2004, so it’s still too new for a fair assessment of its reliability. Being a fairly minor manufacturer, Smart is rarely included in the majority of reliability surveys, so details on this are also fairly sketchy.

Our own experience of the Smart has been disappointing. We ran one on a 12-month test, and during that time, it suffered two severe breakdowns in the space of 1000 miles, along with a few other niggles.

One thing we can say with confidence, though, is that if any non-warranty repair work needs doing, it will probably be costly. Because Smart is part of Mercedes-Benz, most main dealers are tacked onto Mercedes outlets, meaning you’ll be paying close to Mercedes prices for labour.

These are extremely expensive, certainly much more than most supermini owners will pay. Finding a good independent garage can cut these rates by half.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Passion with 1.5 CDI 95bhp, or 1.3 Pulse on price

James Ruppert
Used car guru
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