Cape Town - Smart cars are synonymous with all things minuscule. I’m sure if we tried, there’ be room for the entire 'Seven Dwarfs' contingent or a host of adorable Minions from Despicable Me.
While the Smart ForTwo is still half the size of any compact car in the market, the ForFour has space for four adults.
The automaker’s third generation ForFour has grown-up with new styling, design tweaks, enhanced technology and better driving dynamics. Despite the enhancements, it retains its cute-as-a-button persona.
It's powered by a 999cc litre, three-cylinder engine, with two power outputs and three trim levels - prime, passion and proxy. The bi-colour body options are refreshing and adds a whole of spunk to these little city slickers.
Wheels24’s Janine Van der Post shares five things potential buyers should know about the ForFour:
1. It looks a lot better
The Smart's 'smiling face' was a distinctive feature when it was launched in South Africa many moons ago. In 2016, the automaker continues its 'smiling' design with larger halogen headlights (clear-lens design) and LEDs. It also has a new honey-comb grille.
Its design is more curvaceous and flowing, yet its short overhangs remain giving it a solid presence on the road. I liked the orange/grey combination and its sporty black alloys adds to its character.
Overall a vast improvement over it's predecessor.
Great design: Cute, isn't it? Image: Janine Van der Post
2. It has great upholstery
This is a weird one on list of features, but one of the ForFour's best selling points owners will come to truly appreciated is its awesome upholstery. At first glance it appears to be black leather, but it's actually versatile cloth. It has very sporty bucket-esque front seats too.
At the rear there are two individual seats with a storage compartment between them.
If you're dealing with a busy toddler these materials are heaven-sent. Tomato sauce, baby powder, chip crumbs are no match for the tough surfaces.
The seats are as comfortable as they are durable. Even the areas which usually have plastic covers such as the dashboard and door panels are covered in the same material, so grubby little fingers can’t leave their marks behind.
Crumbs! Baby spills just wipe away, and the crevices allow chips and crumbs to be easily removed. Image: Janine Van der Post
3. Less is more
Interior space needs to be uncluttered; especially when it comes to city cars. Less is always more. The fascia of the ForFour is simple yet straight-forward.
The controls, dials and buttons are self-explanatory and intuitive.
4. It has the smallest cubbyhole...
I'm a sucker for storage compartments in a car. The more there are, the merrier I am, even if I don't get to use all of them. And, because I hate carrying a handbag, I like to leave items out of sight while driving and stash things things such as keys, cellphone and wallets in the cubby.
So imagine my dilemma when I tried squeezing in my average-sized purse in the cubbyhole with utter failure.
I know the ForFour is an uber compact car, but that storage space is minuscule and an utter waste since nothing can fit in it. Can we please make this just a tad roomier, please? Or, let's leave it out all together as in its current state (read: size) it's useless.
What is this? It's the Smart ForFour's cubbyhole. Best used to store boxes of smarties. Image: Janine Van der Post
5. It can go the distance
The ForFour is available in either a 52kW manual guise or a 66kW auto version - which was only made available in July 2016. I drove the 52kW manual model and was surprised by its prowess on the highway. These cars are known to be city cars and not hauling long distances.
They're very much capable in doing so though, despite challenges such as the 'Cape Doctor', the infamous South-Easter wind in the Cape. It manages to hold its own on the road and its punchy little engine hardly feels as if it's only pushing out 52kW.
Of course, another one of its star points is its frugal fuel consumption. Smart claims 4.2 litres/100km, and this figure I won't argue for once. It can do a 100km trip to Malmesbury from Somerset West and back, and still have loads of mileage left to spare to drive to town for a couple of days. It also has a chic rev counter on the dashboard, adding to its sporty appeal.
If you're in the market for an entry-level car, or just a city slicker, this is definitely a good option. It's inconspicuous, yet funky at the same time.
Trendy in style, and its fuel consumption won't break the bank. And, the best part is that you can actually fit a few shopping bags in the boot too!
ForFour Price: from R179 900