Skip advert
Advertisement

Smart Fortwo Brabus review - Small car, big fun, huge price - Ride and Handling

Far more capable and fun than we could have expected, but it's hard to ignore that price tag

Evo rating
Price
from £16,585
  • Cheeky, surprisingly agile
  • Expense, dynamically compromised due to its size and shape

Ride and handling

Smart still runs a staggered tyre setup to mitigate its short wheelbase and rear-engined layout - the front tyres are 185-section to the rears’ 205 – but there’s more front grip than in the old model and indeed more than most traditional city cars. Understeer isn’t quite as terminal and surprisingly, the car’s balance is actually quite exploitable as a result. Turn in at silly speeds and the front end will still push wide, but the short wheelbase means the slightest of throttle lifts will curtail that, and lifting harshly will even see the back end quickly slide around.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Quick steering and ever-present ESP quickly rein in that sort of behaviour, but because it happens at low speeds it’s something you can enjoy virtually everywhere and with very little risk. It’s also something that simply doesn’t happen in the Renault Twingo, but does in the Brabus Forfour, suggesting some of Smart's tweaks have unleashed a little playfulness in the chassis. And if you’re smooth with your inputs, it’s a dynamic layer you don’t have to explore if you don’t want it, since the Brabus generates perfectly respectable levels of grip, and the greater natural stability of this model, compared to its predecessor, means you can find a flow down most roads.

That’s helped by the ride quality. Okay, jump out of a particularly well set-up modern hot supermini and you’ll find the Smart’s body control laughable, and you spend a lot of time keeping things in a straight line on bumpy roads (though the car’s narrow width gives you more space to play with anyway). But the ride is far from punishing (as long as you avoid potholes) and not discernibly worse than say, a Fiesta ST.

You don’t get much steering feel, and there’s little bite over the first few degrees of lock either – presumably to make the Fortwo feel a little less busy on the motorway. But the rack is surprisingly quick and made quicker still by the extreme angles the front wheels will turn to. Despite the Smart’s weight, it feels hugely nimble.

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement

Most Popular

New Porsche 911 (992.2) revealed – GTS gets 3.6-litre hybrid flat-six
Porsche 911 (992.2) – front
News

New Porsche 911 (992.2) revealed – GTS gets 3.6-litre hybrid flat-six

The Porsche 911 has gained a hybrid powertrain for the first time ever, with the GTS packing a 534bhp electrified flat-six
28 May 2024
Toyota GR Yaris v Mercedes‑AMG A45 S v Hyundai i30 N v Honda Civic Type R
Hot hatch test final four
Group tests

Toyota GR Yaris v Mercedes‑AMG A45 S v Hyundai i30 N v Honda Civic Type R

The rally-bred Toyota GR Yaris, bombastic Mercedes‑AMG A45 S, thrillsome Hyundai i30 N and dazzling Honda Civic Type R are each brilliant in their own…
26 May 2024
New Audi RS4 Edition 25 revealed with uprated chassis and more power
Audi RS4 Edition 25 – front
News

New Audi RS4 Edition 25 revealed with uprated chassis and more power

Audi Sport marks the end of the RS4 with a 25th anniversary special with engine and suspension upgrades
28 May 2024