Smart EQ ForFour (2017-2019) interior, dashboard & comfort
Smart EQ ForFour boasts a well trimmed and generously appointed interior
Smart's parent company is Mercedes, and it's fair to say the premium German brand's eye for detail influenced the EQ ForFour's interior. In most respects, it's identical to the petrol ForFour inside, but both versions feel a cut above the Smart's Renault Twingo sister model.
Yet this was achieved without any of Mercedes' much-touted 'soft-feel' plastics. All the ForFour's interior plastics are rigid to the touch, with either a rough textured finish or a glossy, decorative look. The upper sections of the dashboard and door panels are covered in a man-made fabric that puts you in the mind of a neoprene wetsuit. It's an intriguing and effective approach to creating a pleasing interior atmosphere.
What may come as a surprise, considering how short urban journeys are the EQ ForFour's speciality, is the number of luxury features that were either standard or optional. There was a lengthy options list, too, enabling the original buyer to customise their EQ to their taste.
What does detract from comfort is the EQ's firm ride – a consequence of the stiffer suspension required to handle its electric drivetrain's weight. And, while the motor is virtually silent, it means wind noise and roar from the tyres are all the more noticeable on faster roads.
Smart EQ ForFour dashboard
Take a seat behind the wheel of an EQ ForFour and you could be forgiven for wondering if you were in an electric car at all. Its dashboard is virtually identical to that of the petrol models, with only the unique right-hand-mounted 'dashboard instrument' giving the game away.
It takes the place of the petrol car's rev counter, and incorporates a battery charge meter and efficiency dial, whose needle spins around into the red sector when you're driving range-depleting fashion, but stays in the green when you're using power sparingly. It swings into the 'charge' sector when the regenerative braking system is in operation.
The instrument cluster, with its big semi-circular speedometer and colour information display, is unchanged from the petrol models and clear to read, and the retro-themed heating and air-conditioning controls are mounted separately, so it's easy to determine the functions of all its buttons and sliders.
The controls on the steering wheel are rather bigger and more clearly labelled than you'll find on most other cars, which makes it quite instinctive to figure out how to use the cruise control, for instance, or change the radio station.
Equipment, options and accessories
The EQ ForFour was remarkably well equipped, particularly when you take its diminutive size into account. Not only is there the remote control central locking, electric windows, cruise control and air-conditioning that we take for granted these days, but also heated front seats, 15-inch alloy wheels, autonomous emergency braking (AEB), a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system, rear parking sensors and a panoramic roof with manual front and rear blinds.
The Premium Plus package added ambient interior lighting and a centre armrest, automatic headlights and rain-sensing wipers, LED tail-lights and an LED 'light guide' to the headlights, front foglights with a cornering function and a reversing camera. A Winter Pack was also available, adding heating to the rear seats, additional interior heat insulation and a heated steering wheel.
The rest of the options list was mostly devoted to the many different combinations of colour that could be chosen for the car's body panels, interior and 'safety cell'. However, lane-departure warning, DAB radio and heat-resisting rear privacy glass were all available, too.
Infotainment, apps & sat nav
The EQ Smart ForFour comes with a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth connectivity for placing phone calls and streaming music, MirrorLink and Android Auto smartphone compatibility – but no Apple CarPlay. There is sat nav, though, with 3D mapping, a charging-point finder and three years' subscription to TomTom Live traffic services.
Smart also provided an EQ Control app, which enables you to remotely monitor your ForFour's charging rate and level, download information about your driving efficiency and operate the climate control so your car is ready for departure in advance.
In This Review
- 1VerdictDespite mediocre battery range, modest carrying capacity and a firm ride, the Smart EQ ForFour is a likeable electric city-car package
- 2Range, battery & chargingWith a real-world range of less than 70 miles, the Smart EQ ForFour really is best suited to city use
- 3Running costs & insuranceSmart EQ ForFour running costs will be very low, particularly if you charge up at home
- 4Performance, motor & driveThe EQ ForFour offers nippy acceleration and is easy to drive, but it's no electric 'driver's car'
- 5Interior, dashboard & comfort - currently readingSmart EQ ForFour boasts a well trimmed and generously appointed interior
- 6Boot space, seating & practicality'More of a handy urban tool than a family workhorse' sums the Smart EQ ForFour up
- 7Reliability & safety ratingSmart EQ ForFour reliability is unproven, and although it's well equipped, its safety rating is so-so