The new smart generation is ready for the road. The urban joy – as Mercedes-Benz calls it – went back to Barcelona, where the first smart press drive test event happened 15 years ago. In Gaudi’s land, the smart feels like home. But how smart is the new smart?
It is supposed to be colorful, fun and easy to handle in crowded cities. The two seats micro car, with 40 color combinations options, widened by 10 centimeters, meets all these standards. With only 2,69 meters long and an unprecedently turning circle of just 6 meters and 95 centimeters (8,65 meters turning circle for the 3,49 meters long forfour, as much as the previous smart fortwo), the tiniest of cars can simply trick the traffic and squeeze into microscoping parking spots.
During the city loops, with the eyes on the road, on the 7-inch navigation display and slightly glancing at the Sagrada Familia, the smart gave more than expected. We didn’t expect too much either. Stopping from one traffic light to another in the Barcelona downtown, we hoped the stop & go system would bring more fuel efficiency though, especially in the eco mode, behind the wheel of the 90 HP fortwo. So far, it seems way above the official figures of 4,2 l/100 km for the 90 HP smart with a 898 cc turbo engine.
The Twinamic dual clutch automatic transmission DCT is obviously better than the previous automatic transmission, but it shifts from first to second gear a little above 4000 rpm. The smart representatives advise future customers to try a foot control of the throttle pedal and let it run in its own rhythm. They also emphasize that the models are still in pre-series phase. This DCT is an 1,200 euros option. Those who prefer the manual gearbox, can choose the 5-speed one.
On a Catalan rainy day, the all steamed out windows of the mini-volume only needs about a 5 seconds ventilation to offer full visibility again. If you completely close the air vents, on the other side, you get the smart logo to fit the rest of the interior design.
On a sunny second testing day, along a breathtaking Mediterranean coastal road, the forfour turned out to be a bit lazy uphill, but reliable and easy to handle on bends. It’s just physics and laws of gravity. And let’s be real and not push our luck! Who buys a smart for the sporty abilities?
With these improved road manners, the forfour can reach the maximum speed of 155km/h. All we can say is that we respected the speed regulations of Spain. In sporty driving, coming downhill, there was no roadsick, no seasick (well, the sea was some 40 meters down though). The panoramic sunroof is a lifestyle feature, great for the sunny days, but of course, not for a mid-November.
With an easy going personality, the forfour is trying to be more family-friendly. The loading capacity has increased, as the rear doors have an 85 degrees opening angle and the front passenger seat can be completely folded to fit a longer luggage. Also the seating surface can be lowered to provide extra height.
- Split tailgate of the fortwo
- Wide option range
- Dimensions fit for the narrowest parking spot
MAX vs MIN
- Delayed shifting of the DCT
- Eye-catching, but not such premium interior
- High prices
- High fuel consumption
The boot capacity of the smart forfour can vary from 185 to 730 liters (behind front seats), depending on the changes on the inside. With no changes, we managed to fit in a small-size suitcase and a handbag.
In the fortwo, it’s just the two of you against the world. Or should we say against the traffic? When it comes to loading, there’s one thing we can honestly glamorize. The car features a split tailgate, which allows you to just click the upper part of it open and drop something into the minuscule boot.
The interior of the smart is a bit striking. It is colorful and glamorous and the passion, prime and proxy lines are meant to upgrade the inside looks of the fortwo and forfour with features that used to be reserved only for the higher segments. They include the 7-inch LCD and the heated front seats.
The standard kit range is quite wide, as it includes cruise control with variable speed limitation, ESP with crosswind assist, electric windows at the front, remote central locking, LED daytime driving lights and a trip computer. You get heated front seats, 15-inch bi-color alloys, a panoramic glass roof and some extra pods in your dashboard for the upgraded proxy level.
But there is always a “but”: the smart forfour and the Renault TwingoTwingo share about 60-65% of components. Mercedes claims that the style difference places the smart in the premium area, high above its rivals. One of the surprising features is the key of the smart, resembling one of the cheap cars. We expected some extra personality from the key of a pigmey car that is trying to make a huge statement in the mini-zone. The switch for the mirrors adjustment is also quite basic. Actually, the forfour is manufactured in the Renault factory in Slovenia, together with the Twingo and the Mercedes marketing department needs much ingenuity to make the difference between the forfour and the Twingo clear for potential customers, but also those between the forfour and other contendors in the segment.
VerdictThe smart has improved road manners, reinforced the safety cell and added features (like the crosswind assist) to make it reliable in out-of-city drive. Even on curvy roads, the smart manages well. Set to join the premium area, the new models of the microbrand have some raunchy design features on the inside. The ability of intermingling in the metropolitan traffic is, as it has always been, a conclusive expression when it comes to making purchasing choices.