Smart gets smarter

smart fortwo, head on
smart fortwo, front, action
smart fortwo, rear, action
smart fortwo, cockpit
smart fortwo, boot
smart forfour and fortwo
smart forfour, front
smart forfour, rear static
smart forfour, boot
smart forfour, rear seats
smart forfour, interior
smart forfour, front, action

SMART - the cool city car for the fashion-conscious - just got a whole lot smarter.

The new line-up, which follows 100,000 UK sales, may use the same names of fortwo and forfour but after that the differences are substantial.

Makers Daimler AG, famous for building  Mercedes, expect the forfour to outsell its little brother this time round.

And with a price premium of just £495 for the larger car few would doubt the prediction.

Available with a choice of two petrol engines - a 999c, 71bhp unit and a more powerful turbo 898cc which develops 90bhp - both models are built alongside the Renault Twingo and share much of the hardware.

All smart models scrape below the 100g/km CO2 emissions threshold, meaning zero car tax.

Rivals of the forfour, absent from the range for almost eight years, include the Fiat 500, VW up!, Ford Ka and Toyota Aygo.

With a starting price of £11,620 it's dearer than some of its peers but scores highly on equipment levels and the ‘coolometer'.

Even the entry model includes climate control, alloy wheels and cruise control. A five-speed manual gearbox, which is so much better than the previous car's jerky robotised manual system, is standard and a dual-clutch auto is a £995 option.

Within its compact body measuring less than 3.5m there's room for a complement of four, but it's a bit of a squeeze for legroom in the back.

Good news is that the tiny turning circle, thanks to the rear-mounted engine, makes town manoeuvres and car park visits a doddle.

It might be small, but the forfour makes the most of its dimensions with a fair degree of practicality.

The hatchback boot takes just 185litres of cargo but the rear seats split and fold, expanding space to 975litres. A slick folding process for the rear seats helps boost the usable height in order to load awkward items.

The cabin is bright, fun and funky as you'd expect and there are a multitude of colour and material options to allow owners to add that personal touch. It feels classy and a cut-above most rivals...only the Fiat 500 comes close for originality.

The top spec forfour priced at £14,315 - there are three main trim levels - has panoramic glass roof, leather steering wheel, lane assist and lowered suspension.

Nine body colours are offered with three grille shades plus a plethora of permutations for the individual touch.

Don't expect fireworks from the miniscule normally aspirated three-cylinder engine situated over the rear axle.

It's gearing is long and it needs to be rowed along to hit 62mph in the claimed 15.9secs. Top speed is a modest 94mph.

The turbo version has a maximum of 102mph and will accelerate to 62mph in a crisper 11.2sec. Both cars thrive on revs and emit an enthusiastic three-cylinder ‘thrum' that's quite addictive. Combined fuel consumption is 67.3mpg for the less powerful version.

Steering a nicely weighted and noticeably more precise than most small cars. Despite the short wheelbase, the ride is assured and comfortable with well controlled roll angles. In fact, it rides like a much larger car.

Get into the fortwo and you are quickly aware that there's little behind your shoulder, yet the quality of the materials in the cabin, the thick leather steering wheel and the racy decor give you a sense of occasion. With the same 71bhp, three cylinder engine, more than a second is carved off acceleration to 62mph.

Top speed remains the same at 94mph. The turbo version manages a more spirited sprint in 10.4 secs.

Luggage capacity is really for just a few squashy bags or a small supermarket visit. But to offset this you can snick into a parking space just slightly larger than the fortwo's 2.69m length. And the turning circle at under 22feet is tighter than a London cab's.

Like the forfour, standard kit is generous - climate control, leather steering wheel and cruise control are included in the £11,125 starting price.

Unlike anything else, the fortwo which was conceived by fashion watch makers Swatch last century, has become an iconic site around our city roads. This latest incarnation is sure to reinforce the brand.

 

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