The tiny two-seater smart seems to get all the attention, but the brand’s four-seater model offers a lot more practicality for very little extra outlay. For the first time, it’s also getting a pure-electric drivetrain, with a rearmounted 80bhp electric motor borrowed from Renault. With a 17.6kWh lithiumion battery pack tucked away under the seats, there’s a promised range of 96 miles, although smart is keen to stress that the official figures are somewhat optimistic. Anything over 70 miles would be considered an achievement, and the prospects of that depend very much on the style of driving.

In the city, smart’s natural environment from day one, the instant torque from the electric motor and the relatively lightweight drivetrain combine to make those rapid starts from traffic lights and into gaps on a roundabout feel very lively, but it starts to fade away upwards of 30mph. It’s only a second slower to 62mph than the fortwo, taking 12.7 seconds, but it feels more lethargic and less urgent.

It handles well though, that 140kg battery pack sitting low down in the car to keep it glued to the road surface, meaning even fast country roads shouldn’t be a concern, although the light steering feels imprecise at speed. Stay in the urban areas and the ride quality is improved over the fortwo, but remains a little unsettled – stiffer springs and more weight makes it a little more compromised than the petrol-powered model, but it falls on just the right side of comfortable. Braking can feel inconsistent at times, as smart has introduced a radar-controlled regenerative braking system. When lifting off the throttle, the car looks ahead to see what’s going on and decides how much energy to recover, and therefore how much extra braking capacity the car provides. Sometimes it’s quite noticeable, but other times the car coasts along like the Mary Celeste.

Equipment levels are high, with smart taking the view that buyers are paying a premium for the electric model anyway, so have included the likes of cruise control, DAB radio, a touchscreen infotainment system that includes TomTom navigation, and an app-based smartphone connectivity option that allows owners to remotely control some of the car’s functions – it’s possible to set the heater to come on before you go to the car, or check on charge status for example. It’s all suitably premium, and the cabin ambience adds to that. A smart fabriccovered dashboard is distinctive, while the controls and dials all look and feel good. That’s true in the back too, where a small bench seat allows two adults to sit in reasonable comfort. The seats fold down to extend the otherwise compact boot, and the motor sits at the back where the petrol engine normally would be located, so you don’t lose any luggage capacity when you switch to electric power.

What you will lose, at least initially, is time. smart won’t be including the 22kW charger in the car initially, meaning there’s just the 7kW charger to rely upon. That translates to an 80 per cent charge taking two and a half hours from a wallbox that’s included in the price, or six hours from a normal household socket. The beefier charger arrives in 2018 and could bring rapid charge times down to just 45 minutes, but there’ll be no way of retrofitting it to existing cars.

The added practicality of the forfour goes a long way to increasing its appeal, even if it does lose a little of the excitement of the fortwo in the process, and pricing that’s expected to be in the region of £17,500 after government grants means it’s likely to be more competitively priced than the Renault Zoe. However, the Diamond-badged car offers more space and, crucially, significantly more range.

Prices Approximately £17,500
Bodystyles 5-door hatchback
Trim levels Electric Drive
Also consider Renault Zoe, Volkswagen e-up!
Model tested forfour electric drive
Price £17,500 (approximately)
Made in Novo Mesto, Slovenia
Bodystyle 5-door hatchback, 4-seats
Drivetrain Three-phase synchronous electric motor with 17.6kWh lithium-ion battery pack
Transmission 1-speed automatic
Layout Rear-wheel-drive
Maximum power 80bhp
Maximum torque 118lb ft
Top speed 81mph
0-62mph 12.7secs
CO2 emissions 0g/km
Range 96 miles
Recharge time (domestic socket/wallbox) 6/2.5 hours
Insurance group tba
BIK rate 9%
Size (length/width without mirrors) 3,495 /1,665mm
Boot space (minimum/maximum) 185/975 litres
Kerb/maximum towing weight 1,200/0kg
Euro NCAP crash test rating
Verdict The forfour adds a lot of practicality compared to the fortwo, but also introduces some compromises in its quest as an urban warrior.