Smeg may make beautiful ovens and sexy coffee machines, but that doesn't mean you should go all out and fill your kitchen with everything Smeg. Our rigorous testing shows not all of their products perform as well as you'd expect for the price you pay.
As much as a matchy-matchy kitchen might sound appealing, what you'll gain in aesthetics you may lose in performance. But if you choose carefully, you can have both beauty and function.
There's more to a kitchen accessory than just good looksKim Gilmour, CHOICE household testing
"There's more to a kitchen accessory than just good looks – our independent, comparative tests show that Smeg products aren't always recommended performers, despite their retro appeal," says Kim Gilmour, team leader of CHOICE's household testing.
We look at which Smeg products rate best, and which leave something to be desired.
Best to avoid
The Smeg Retro Style FAB28 range needs to be manually defrosted. Retro, indeed.
Smeg has a reputation as a luxury brand, but it doesn't always deliver bang for your buck. Its fridges are priced at the very upper end of the market, but they're made by the same company that produces Beko fridges, which fall at the lower end of the price scale and often don't perform well in our tests.
"The problem with buying a poor-performing fridge is that your food will go off faster, so you'll end up spending more money in the long run," says Ashley Iredale, CHOICE's whitegoods expert.
The Smeg FAB32 failed its energy check and scored just 15% for temperature stability.
Form over function?
"Retro appliances may look cool, but our advice is to defer to function over form, and preference products that perform well instead."
We've tested a few Smeg fridges over the years and while their retro design is certainly popular and eye-catching, we've found they can be all style and no substance.
One we tested, the Smeg FAB32RRDNA1 retro-styled bottom-mount fridge, had a price tag of over $3000 but failed its energy check, and scored a dismal 44% for keeping food fresher for longer and a shocking 15% for temperature stability.
The FAB38RCRAU: dubbed the "worst fridge ever" by CHOICE experts.
'Worst fridge ever'
Another Smeg fridge we tested took out the title of the worst we've ever tested. The Smeg FAB38RCRAU fridge, with a huge price tag of $3990, received the lowest CHOICE Expert Rating in our fridge testing history – just 22%.
"That was the worst fridge we've ever seen in decades of testing," says Ashley.
Among its many sins, it has terrible cooling performance, with our experts scoring it a damning 0% for temperature stability.
Want to know more? Read all about the worst fridge in CHOICE testing history.
Smeg kettles: more fashion than function?
They may look the business, but Smeg's 50s-style variable-temperature kettles are more fashion than function. They scored between 68% and 72% in our kettle reviews, cost a steep $199–$259, and boil at a noisy 60dB.
If you're after a kettle that does the job and won't burn a hole in your pocket, check out our kettle reviews.
The Smeg food mixer we tested was outperformed by virtually every other kitchen mixer.
It may have the looks to rival KitchenAid, but its beauty is all on the surface.
Outperformed by virtually every other kitchen mixer when we tested it, Smeg's 50s-style stand mixer scored poorly on a number of tests, including ease of use, whisking and beating. The dough hook test was the only component that performed well, scoring 100%.
It's now discontinued, but in case you were thinking of picking one up on sale or second-hand, you can do better. If you want a mixer that's functional, not just decorative, see our mixer reviews.
The Smeg coffee grinder we tested was no match for a Breville one that was a fraction of its price.
Most of us are prepared to pay a little extra for a quality product, but paying extra only to get a poorer performance? Not our favourite thing.
In our most recent coffee grinder testing, we were surprised to find a $369 Smeg burr grinder that failed to outperform a $50 Breville blade grinder – a result made worse when you know that burr grinders are usually better than blade grinders.
Buy with caution
Smeg freestanding ovens: don't get burnt by the price tag, especially if it's an average performer.
Smeg's freestanding ovens certainly aren't cheap: models we've tested over the years have ranged in price from $2390 to $3995. Although we don't recommend any of them, they scored reasonably well for baking, roasting and grilling, but not so well for ease of use.
Our suggestion? Before you spend $2500 on a Smeg oven, check our freestanding oven reviews to make sure you're spending your money wisely.
The Smeg automatic espresso machine we tested was short on both features and taste.
At $1299, Smeg's automatic espresso machine is at the cheaper end of the price range for automatic espresso machines (yes, they're that expensive). And it doesn't perform too badly, delivering coffee that's even in temperature and frothing milk well via its manual steamer.
But it lacks many features that you'd expect as standard on an automatic espresso machine. You can't change the amount of coffee grinds for each espresso shot (the strength) and you can't change the water temperature. It also lacks a display screen, which makes coffee making more complicated than it ought to be and requires multiple readings of the instructions.
Its worst sin, though, is that it doesn't actually make great tasting coffee
Its worst sin, though, is that it doesn't actually make great tasting coffee (our experts rated it as only 'OK' for taste). And even though it's not super expensive, you can still pick up far better performing machines with more features for less money.
If you're looking for a machine that'll deliver your caffeine hit perfectly, check our automatic espresso machine reviews.
Retro toaster: one of the better performing Smeg appliances we've tested.
Two of Smeg's retro-styled toasters performed quite well in our tests, with our experts rating them as "good". Unfortunately they weren't quite good enough for us to recommend them, but they did perform reasonably well across our range of toast tests.
One was let down by its long toasting time (4 min 25 sec), and the other by its lacklustre performance toasting a single piece of bread. Neither of them were great at toasting frozen bread.
On the plus side, our experts say they were very good in terms of ease of use, and they'll up your kitchen cred with their stylish design.
If you're not convinced about paying a premium price tag for a toaster, we've found several cheaper toasters that outperform more expensive ones.
Another pricey product, Smeg's dishwashers sit at the upper end of the price range. But do they deliver? Well, they're certainly not terrible, but for the price you could do better.
In fact, we found that an $850 Westinghouse dishwasher performed as well as a $2000 Smeg when we compared the two in our Splurge vs save: dishwashers edition.
See how Smeg compares with other brands in our dishwasher reviews.
The Smeg SA34MX microwave: decent performer, but still overpriced.
At $490, the Smeg SA34MX microwave is one of the more expensive we've tested. But does the cost translate to good performance? Not really.
It's not so much that it's terrible; it actually scored pretty well on some of our tests. It's more that for the price, you can do much better. Or you could even spend less and still get better performance.
For microwaves that won't drain your bank balance, check our microwave reviews before you buy.
Then there's the Smeg convection microwave. At $790, it's actually not the most expensive model we've tested, but it was outperformed by far cheaper convection microwaves.
Take a look at our convection microwave reviews if you don't want to get burnt buying a poor-performing model.
In news that will surprise no-one, Smeg's cooktops sit at the more expensive end of the price range, from $1790 for a four-burner gas cooktop to $3690 for an induction cooktop.
The induction cooktops perform well – our experts rated them 'Very good' or 'Excellent' across a range of tests, and the gas cooktops were rated 'Good'. But before you rush out and buy one, do your research: for the price you'll pay for a Smeg cooktop, you could pick up a much better performer or even save yourself some serious money.
See our expert cooktop reviews to find out.
Smeg rangehoods: a bit hit and miss, so be careful which model you choose.
Rangehoods are another hit-and-miss category for Smeg. We've tested three models that range in price from $1350 to $2150.
Surprisingly, the most expensive model is the worst performing, scoring just 64% overall in our expert tests. Other models perform quite well, but you can get similar performance for a lot less money.
To stop your money going up in smoke, check our rangehood reviews first.
The ECF01PBEU espresso machine: now this is more like it. Earns the CHOICE tick of approval.
Smeg's ECF01PBEU espresso machine gets the CHOICE tick of approval: this model did well in our coffee machine test, scoring 100% on coffee temperature consistency and 80% for milk frothing. It also scored well on the taste test. At $499 it's a good price, too, and held its own against products that cost several times more.
Smeg wall ovens: the two models we tested performed well.
Ranging in price from $2090 to $4990, Smeg's wall ovens certainly aren't the cheapest on the market, but they do perform well for the price. The two models we tested in our wall oven reviews both got high scores for performance, baking and roasting.
The BLF01CRAU blender: wowed us with its green smoothie and kale-blitzing.
Another retro-styled appliance that performed quite well, the BLF01CRAU blender makes a pretty darn good green smoothie and absolutely blitzes kale (it scored 95% on the kale test). Sure, it's no Vitamix, but at $299 it's a fraction of the price. It's not the highest scoring blender in our blender reviews, but if you absolutely must have a pretty blender in your kitchen, this is a decent option.
Priced at $259, the Smeg stick blender comes with a range of attachments to help you chop, process, whip and blend.
Our expert say it's good overall, but only OK for ease of use. However, it scored well in many of our other tests like chopping and processing.
For the price, you could buy a stick blender with attachments that's not as pretty but performs better. And let's face it, a stick blender isn't exactly something you're going to show off on the kitchen bench when you're not using it, is it?
You can see how the Smeg model stacks up in our stick blender reviews.