Expert Reviews

First Drive: Smart ForFour Electric Drive

Friday 24 February 2017

First Drive: Smart ForFour Electric Drive
Summary

When Smart introduced the ForFour, it was the first time more than two could fit in one of its cars. Now the four-seater has evolved again as it’s being offered with an electric drivetrain for the first time.

It’s the same engine that was introduced on the Smart ForTwo late last year, but with a range of up to 96 miles it’s not quite as good as some its rivals. So can it make up for this deficiency in other areas?

Looks & Image

When Smart introduced an updated look to its cars, which are based on the same platform as the quirky, tiny and versatile Renault Twingo, it was a welcome upgrade from the old design.

The company took the opportunity to really exaggerate some of the unfamiliar elements of the compact car.

However, this latest facelift sees some of those quirkier elements toned down. The curvy and bulbous styling remains though, with two tone colour choices for the exterior.

Space & Practicality

Practicality is still at the forefront of the Smart’s interior design. The materials used are far from premium, but instead are designed to withstand regular short journeys and the associated stresses that come from people hopping in and out frequently.

Space in the front is generous and it’s easy to get in because the doors are of a good size. However, it’s not quite so spacious for people in the rear, though two adults could just about get in the back if the front passengers sacrifice some leg room.

There’s plenty of storage with a glovebox and a secondary storage box within the centre console, while door pockets are deep. Arm rests front and rear come with extra space too.

Because the engine is in the back, rear boot space is compromised – this isn’t a car for taking four people away for the weekend. The boot floor is high and realistically there’s only space for one suitcase or two smaller bags.

Behind the Wheel

We tested a ForTwo first, and when we jumped into the ForFour the difference in handling was stark. While the ForTwo feels planted and well-built, the four-seater feels like the addition of a couple of seats has messed up the equilibrium, so it’s much less stable on the road.

The electric drive meant that all of the power is available at all times, but you’re going to want to try to resist the urge to put your foot down too often. With only 96 miles of range at best, this is not a car for pushing to the limit.

The steering is light and a bit vague, too, but that’s perfect for inner-city use – it only becomes a problem if you try to push on.

Value for Money

This is where the Smart ForFour and ForTwo Electric Drive city cars come into their own. Electric mobility can be pretty pricey at the moment as the technology is still quite new, meaning the low running costs have to justify the high initial outlay.

However, the Smart pair are relatively cheap compared to rivals. At around £19,000 for the ForFour and a few hundred pounds less for the ForTwo, these are very affordable.

You can charge at home, but it’s not particularly quick, taking six hours to charge to 80 per cent. Later in the year a fast charger will be available, but cars released before that date won’t be compatible.

Who would buy one ?

This car will be particularly appealing to those who drive less than 30 miles from their house and stay at city speeds most of the time. If you like to travel long distances at the weekends though, you’ll probably need a second car – Smart suggests this will be the case with most owners.

Facts at a Glance

Model: Smart ForFour Electric Drive
Engine: Electric motor (80bhp, 160Nm)
Transmission: Automatic
Performance: 0-60mph in 12.7 seconds, 130mph top speed
Economy: n/a
?Emissions: 0g/km

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