Car group tests

Smart ForFour vs Renault Twingo and SEAT Mii

Smart fancies its ForFour as king of the urban jungle, but the SEAT Mii and Renault Twingo stand in its way

Smart has just launched an all-new ForTwo city car, but perhaps more significantly, the German brand has also revived the five-door ForFour to compete in this competitive class. 

As with the 2005 original, the four-seater shares its styling with its two-seater stablemate, while under the skin, the rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive platform is carried over, too.

In fact, the ForFour’s running gear is shared with the cheaper Renault Twingo. So, for its first test, we’ve lined the Smart up against its French cousin to see how it compares.

However, both of them will need to excel if they’re going to beat one of our favourite city cars, the SEAT Mii. The Spanish model, along with the Skoda Citigo and VW up!, redefined the class at launch nearly four years ago, while the special edition Mii by Mango has an upmarket, fashion-inspired edge, yet still manages to undercut the ForFour on price.

So, can the ForFour shine against its rivals, or will it be outsmarted by the competition?

Smart ForFour review

SEAT Mii review

Renault Twingo review

Follow the links above to read individual reviews, and scroll down to see which city slicker comes out on top in this test...

Head-to-head

Size matters

The Smart and Renault share the same platform and look similar, but the brands quote different dimensions for their cars. The ForFour is shorter, wider and taller, albeit by millimetres, and the differences translate into a smaller boot. It boasts a 185-litre capacity, while the Twingo offers 188 litres. Both cars have two-stage seatbacks, so you can position them at an upright angle to create a little more boot space.

Special editions

Smart has already started the ball rolling with ForFour specials by offering the Edition 1 at launch. This high-spec model adds new wheels, extra kit and unique body colours. The Mii by Mango is a special edition in name, although SEAT hasn’t put a limit on the car’s production numbers.

More power

Both the Smart and Renault are available with a 1.0-litre turbo three-cylinder engine. Producing 89bhp and 135Nm of torque, the unit lowers the ForFour’s claimed 0-62mph time from 15.9 seconds to 11.9 seconds, while the lighter Renault completes the benchmark sprint in 10.8 seconds.

Verdict

1st place: SEAT Mii

The brilliant Mii takes another road test victory. While it’s not as boldly engineered as its rivals here, it’s a more complete all-round package. Not only is it nippy and agile around town, but it tackles longer journeys with the sort of composure you’d expect from a much larger car. It’s also well equipped, cheap to run, spacious and impressively refined.

2nd place: Smart ForFour

It’s a close call between the ForFour and Twingo for second place, but the Smart just gets the nod. There’s little to choose between the pair when it comes to driving and practicality, but the Smart should make a slightly smaller impact on your wallet. Its higher list price is offset by much stronger residuals, plus it delivered stronger economy. It’s also better equipped and classier inside. 

3rd place: Renault Twingo

There’s no denying that the Twingo has plenty of showroom appeal. It’s cheap to buy and boasts a roomy interior with a decent haul of standard kit. However, like the ForFour, it’s undermined by leisurely performance, plus it can’t match the Mii for comfort and composure. The Twingo is still a characterful city car, but it lacks the depth of ability of the class leaders.

Key specs: 

 SEAT Mii by MangoSmart ForFour Prime 71hpRenault Twingo Dynamique Sce 70
On the road price/total as tested£11,345/£12,510£12,315/£14,295£10,995/£12,085
Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000)£5,548/48.9%£5,948/48.3%£4,277/38.9%
Depreciation£5,797£6,367£6,718
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£316/£632£294/£589£263/£525
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£1,331/£2,218£1,260/£2,099£1,444/£2,407
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost4/£396/B/£202/£384/A/£03/£277/A/£0
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service£19.99pm£15pm (3yrs)£299 (3yrs)
    
Length/wheelbase3,557/2,420mm3,495/2,494mm3,595/2,492mm
Height/width1,478/1,645mm1,555/1,665mm1,554/1,646mm
Engine3cyl in-line/999cc3cyl in-line/999cc3cyl in-line/999cc
Peak power/revs74/6,200 bhp/rpm70/6,000 bhp/rpm69/6,000 bhp/rpm
Peak torque/revs95/3,000 Nm/rpm91/2,850 Nm/rpm91/2,850 Nm/rpm
Transmission5-spd man/fwd5-spd man/rwd5-spd man/rwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel35 litres/£6035 litres/repair kit35 litres/repair kit
Boot capacity (seats up/down)251/951 litres185/975 litres188-219/980 litres
Kerbweight/payload929/361kg975/425kg865/495kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient9.8 metres/0.33Cd8.7 metres/N/A8.6 metres/N/A
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (60,000)/2yrs3yrs (unlimited)/1yr4yrs (100,000)/4yrs
Service intervals/UK dealers12,500 (1yr)/14812,500 (1yr)/4812,000 (1yr)/153
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.24th/32ndN/A15th/12th
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./stars89/80/46/578/77/65/4 (2014)78/81/68/4 (2014)
    
0-60/30-70mph14.1/15.2 secs15.0/16.5 secs16.1/17.4 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th7.1/11.9 secs8.8/12.2 secs9.4/12.5 secs
50-70mph in 5th19.0 secs21.4 secs21.3 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph106mph/3,000rpm94mph/3,200rpm94mph/N/A
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph55.5/35.1/9.6m57.7/36.8/11.0m54.3/36.9/9.8m
Noise outside/idle/30/70mph64/42/59/68dB57/45/64/70dB63/47/60/70dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range44.4/9.8/342 miles46.9/10.3/361 miles40.9/9.0/315 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined47.9/70.6/60.1mpg58.9/74.3/67.3mpg56.5/76.4/67.3mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined10.5/15.5/13.2mpl13.0/16.3/14.8mpl12.4/16.8/14.8mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket147/108g/km/14%139/97g/km/12%160/95g/km/12%
    
Airbags/Isofix/park sensors/cameraFour/yes/£550/noFive/yes/£795/£1,295Four/yes/£150/£600
Auto gearbox/stability/cruise controlNo/yes/£550No/yes/yesNo/yes/yes
Climate control/leather/heated seatsNo/part/noYes/yes/yes£500/no/£250
Metallic paint/sunroof/keyless goYes/£790/no£295/£850/no£495/£850/no
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/BluetoothYes/no/£175/yes£795/yes/£195/yes£600/yes/yes/yes

Most Popular

New 2021 BMW M3 launched with huge grille and 503bhp
BMW 3 Series M3 Coupe

New 2021 BMW M3 launched with huge grille and 503bhp

The new sixth-generation BMW M3 Competition saloon gets a 503bhp straight-six engine and four-wheel-drive
22 Sep 2020
New 2020 Volkswagen ID.4 electric SUV revealed with up to 323 miles of range
Volkswagen ID.4

New 2020 Volkswagen ID.4 electric SUV revealed with up to 323 miles of range

The new Tiguan-sized Volkswagen ID.4 electric SUV becomes VW’s second ID. model, rivalling the Tesla Model Y
23 Sep 2020
New Range Rover Velar PHEV launched with 33-mile electric range
Land Rover Range Rover Velar

New Range Rover Velar PHEV launched with 33-mile electric range

Land Rover has given the Range Rover Velar an update, with a new plug-in hybrid powertrain and an improved infotainment system
23 Sep 2020