Smart EQ ForFour (2017-2019) review

Despite mediocre battery range, modest carrying capacity and a firm ride, the Smart EQ ForFour is a likeable electric city-car package

Electric

Pros

  • Cute looks
  • Generous equipment
  • Perky driving experience

Cons

  • Firm ride
  • Limited range
  • Modest boot space
Car type Official range Wallbox charge time Fast charge time
Electric 68 miles 2hrs 45mins (0-100%, 7.4kW) 55mins (0-100%, 22kW)*

*with optional 22kW on-board charger

Smart has always been associated with innovation and its tiny city cars are among the most distinctive on the road. It comes as no surprise, then, that the brand wanted a slice of the electric city-car pie; the Smart EQ ForFour fought to attract buyers away from the similarly sized Volkswagen e-up! and slightly larger Renault ZOE.

Those tempted away from the Renault had to manage their battery range expectations, though – the EQ ForFour can travel only around a third as far as the latest ZOE on a full charge. There are many for whom this won't matter, though, and the tiny, easy-to-park EQ ForFour occupies a definite niche for those who make lots of short, door-to-door urban trips.

Although the boot is a fairly tight 185 litres in size, the versatile rear-seat configurations are handy and wide-opening doors make for easy access for parcel couriers or rear-seat passengers alike. There's also a remarkably long list of standard equipment; it runs as far as sat nav and a remote-control app that lets you pre-heat the EQ ForFour's interior before you set out. Autonomous emergency braking (AEB) is standard, too.

We reckon the EQ ForFour is more enjoyable to drive than a petrol Smart, and it arguably has the edge on the ZOE, too. On paper, its acceleration is slower, but it feels very sprightly from a standstill and easily has the legs on urban traffic. Its accelerator is very linear, too, which makes it easy to maintain a very slow crawl without jerking passengers' heads back and forth.

The electric Smart feels more stable and planted than its internal-combustion-engined stablemates – a consequence of the firm suspension needed to carry a power pack that makes the EQ far heavier than a petrol ForFour. The downside of this is a rather firm and fidgety ride, which never really settles down.

With a 0-62mph time of 12.4 seconds and a top speed of 80mph, the Smart doesn't feel out of its depth on faster roads, but prolonged high speeds will see the range rapidly tumble and send you searching for a charging point where – with the optional 22kW on-board charger – you can restore an 80% charge in less than 40 minutes.

Charging cables were provided to suit a home wallbox, public chargers and domestic three-pin sockets, and a 7kW charger is standard, taking the EQ's 17.6kWh battery from 10-80% charge in a claimed two-and-a-half hours from a domestic wallbox.

With its limited range and compact interior, the EQ ForFour's limitations are obvious, but it's a desirable little car nonetheless, with a characterful design, perky driving experience and lavish standard equipment. It has a real sense of fun to it, and may well be the right zero-emissions commuter tool if range and versatility aren't top priorities.

If you need to regularly carry four passengers or bulky loads for longer distances, a ZOE will suit you better, but you'll need to reach a little deeper into your pockets. Smart hasn't always returned the most inspiring results in our sister title Auto Express' annual Driver Power surveys, and the petrol ForFour received a lacklustre four-star Euro NCAP crash-test rating back in 2014 – the EQ has yet to be tested, but standard safety equipment has been increased since then.

For a more detailed look at the Smart EQ ForFour, read on for the rest of our in-depth review.