2015 Smart ForTwo and ForFour Review
After the official unveiling in Berlin earlier this year, we took a trip over to Barcelona with Smart to try out their 2015 range of Smart Cars, the ForTwo and the ForFour. We were given a very detailed description of how these were going to be the ultimate city car, so where better to put this to the test than one of the busiest cities in Europe, Barcelona. Read on for our Smart ForTwo and ForFour Review.
Smart had set a number of routes for us to try throughout the city on our first day with the ForTwo, taking us from the highway to the hectic business quarter on a weekday, to the grand roads that follow the breathtaking waterfront. It was going to be interesting to see how these cars faired in these differing conditions. Considering how small they are, yet how surprisingly powerful they feel, we had confidence that we would probably get on just fine. Over the two days the cars surprised us in both positive and negative ways, all of which I will get into shortly, but our overall impression left us thinking that the current crop of city cars may have just found a rival who means business.
We certainly weren’t shy putting the little rascal through it’s paces, with little rascal being the appropriate description because the things you can get away with in this car leave you feeling very smug and a little badass. High rev pull-aways between traffic lights, overtakes, tight turns and even tighter parking, but it seemed everything we threw out, it practically laughed off. Maybe you could say the same about the pedestrians looking at us, but from within the cabin, things were mostly good. Honest.
Our road test with this was slightly different, starting in the city we headed to the outskirts and onto the mountain roads to see how the bigger 5 door ForFour could transfer it’s skill set from the city streets to the winding mountain passes. I think Smart were keen to prove that although designed for the city there was a Smart car that was just as exciting to drive away from the hustle and bustle.
This is pretty much the most important aspect of the ForTwo, it’s what it preaches, and for the most part it’s bang on. It becomes fairly clear that the fact it was designed with specific cities in mind, Paris, Berlin and Barcelona to name a few, isn’t just PR talk. It’s a city car in every sense of the phrase. In terms of driving a car that small that has a turning circle of only 6.95 meters is always going to be practical to drive around a city, and the size without question comes with great benefits (being able to park both lengthways and ‘front-ways’ for starters).
The driving position and cabin space is remarkable, easily as much space for you and the passenger as you would get in a modern day 4×4. But, and it’s a big but. People do still need to carry things around, even in the city, and the ForTwo has such little space away from the sitting position that it renders it virtually impossible to carry anymore than a few bags of shopping. That is of course where the ForFour comes into play.
Offering most of the same city qualities as the ForTwo, the ForFour can make up for the lack of space with its 4 seat, 5 doors and impressive seat folding options. Yes it does mean that you’re not going to fit into those really tiny spaces, but the ride will be smoother, you can carry more than one passenger and when you do need to leave the city, the ForFour can compete with most similar cars in it’s market. Weighing up the two together in terms of practicality means talking about two things and two things only. Size and fuel, because for me I would always go with the ForFour just for the options it creates outside of the city and the space.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, in a car that small where the driver takes up most of the car, if anything hits me and I’m a goner for sure. Well, prepared to be amazed by both the following information and photos.
One of the many perks with being tied with Mercedes is access to the same vigorous safety technology, not to mention a whole other range of cars to crash test it against. The following images show the results of a crash test with a Mercedes S class and the 2015 ForTwo.
Need I say more?
I can vouch for the images, one because I took them and two because I thoroughly looked at every part of that ForTwo wreckage desperately trying to find a safety flaw. But there wasn’t one. Not even as much as a scratch inside the cabin and both the doors still functioned as normal. Sure, there’s not a chance in hell you’d drive away and any head on collision is a guaranteed right off, but hey it’s still impressive considering the size! I still think that there is some sort of witchcraft going on, but Smart assure me it’s because of all of their ‘Tridion cell’ build, safety tech and the work they do so closely with Mercedes.
In addition to impressive crash resistance, both the ForTwo and ForFour include features such as lane crossing and ‘wind assist’. A necessity considering how loose the steering is.
City cars in general are mostly basic, they get you from A to B and not a lot else, sure as time goes by manufactures are adding more gizmos within the cabin, but in terms of engine spec and the drive, it’s usually pretty underwhelming.
Enter the ForTwo. Thanks to the turbo charged 3 cylinder engine in the manual (that’s powering essentially a toy car) being at the back, not only do you get a reasonably quick getaway should you need it, but you get a much more enjoyable sound that comes with it. However, what the Fortwo does lack is torque. It can be a little sluggish at times and the clutch is a pain to get used to, requiring more effort than wet kindling to get fired up. But once you get used to it, it does get better and hey it’s not trying to be a supercar remember.
The ForTwo is also available as a dual clutch DCT, meaning all of those annoyances with the clutch go away and you are left with which I would say in all honesty is a very smooth drive. It is worth mentioning that car of that size with the turning circle that it has does mean that at times the steering can feel looser than a.. hang on, I better think about that one. This does make the drive feel a bit toy like and less like you are driving an actual car, but for me the compact feeling and how nippy it can be completely outweigh the negatives.
Both versions of both models come with some surprising features that almost don’t seem necessary in a city car but you love that they are there. Cruise control, lane assist, wind assist, dynamic braking, parking cameras, radar and so on all of which are thanks to Mercedes, are very welcome extras.
When it comes to the ForFour, I’m sold. The ForFour improved in every area that the ForTwo lacked. The clutch was far more responsive, it had the right amount of torque, and the steering although still loose, made me feel as if I was driving a normal car again. It managed to hold onto all of the positives of the ForTwo also, aside from the size and turning circle benefits of course. Having said that it still boasts a turning circle of 8.65m (compared to 9.8m in the VW Up), which is pretty handy for a 5 door in the city. The thing I like about the Forfour the most is its practicality in both the city and outside of the city.
Manoeuvrability was great within the city constraints and driving on hilly mountain passes provided me with as much fun as I could have had in many hot hatches. Well played ForFour, well played.
With the freaky, asexual aesthetic that Smart cars have, I’m still not sure where I stand on this one. I certainly think they aren’t gender specific and the appearance just comes down to practicality, I do think however that the 2015 reboot is a big step towards attractiveness, there’s far more to the design both externally and internally that catches the eye. Available in over (40) colour combinations and a cabin that’s so attractively designed it’s like an Ikea-Alexander McQueen love child. Both the ForTwo and ForFour have seriously upped their game in the appearance department. Big fan.
Smart have done seriously well here. Both new models are very impressive and aside a few small driving annoyances and the continued lack of space in the ForTwo, they are in a league of their own for city driving. They may lack a few home comforts that we have become accustom to over the years, but for the purpose they were built for they excel in their delivery. Personal opinion leaves the ForFour more favourable as it offers a lot more in terms of usage options, but we believe both will enter the market at the top, leaving the competition feeling not so ‘Smart’.
The ForTwo starts at £11,125 and the ForFour at £11,620, both very competitive considering what you get in essentially a car built for city driving. The only question it left us asking was considering the part sharing scheme with Renault, does the ForFour have enough to justify the extra cost when being compared to the Renault Twingo, a car that underneath the bonnet is essentially the same? Well after our time with it, we think yes. But what do you think?