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.
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," says Ashley.
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 $3400 but failed its energy check, and scored a dismal 44% for keeping food fresher for longer and a shocking 15% for temperature stability.
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 $169–$269, 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.
A $729 stand mixer outclassed by a $100 Kogan model? That's embarrassing.
It may have the looks to rival KitchenAid, but is its beauty mostly on the surface?
Smeg's $729-a-pop 50s-style stand mixer didn't overly impress in a number of tests, including ease of use and beating, and our experts found it was only OK for mixing a cake batter with the flex edge beater. It was even outclassed by a $100 Kogan stand mixer.
It's not the lowest scoring Smeg product we've ever seen, but for the same price (or even less!) you can pick up far better performers.
If you want a mixer that's functional, not just decorative, see our kitchen mixer reviews.
The Smeg coffee grinder we tested was no match for a Breville model 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 poor 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 particularly embarrassing result considering that burr grinders almost always outperform 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 $5290. Although they haven't scored high enough overall to be recommended, they scored reasonably well for baking, roasting and grilling – and not so well for ease of use.
Our suggestion? Before you spend $2500 on a Smeg oven, check our reviews to see which our experts rate as the best freestanding ovens to make sure you're spending your money wisely.
The Smeg automatic espresso machine we tested was short on both features and taste.
At $1349, 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. And at just shy of $300, they're at the upper end of the price range for toasters.
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, check our reviews to find the best toasters that won't deplete your bank account.
The Smeg SA34MX microwave: Decent performer, but still overpriced.
At $388, the Smeg SA34MX microwave is at the pricier end of the scale. 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.
In news that will surprise nobody, Smeg's gas cooktops sit at the more expensive end of the price range, from $1790 to $2490.
The gas cooktops didn't wow us but they weren't terrible either – our experts rated them 'Very good' or 'Excellent' across a range of tests, and overall they were rated as 'Good'.
It's a similar story with Smeg's 60cm induction cooktop. It's not the most expensive cooktop of the lot, but it's still pretty pricey. And plenty of cooktops that cost about the same or even less outperformed the Smeg.
But before you rush out and buy one, do your research – you could pick up a much better performer for the price of the Smeg, or even save yourself some serious money on a higher-scoring model.
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 four models that range in price from $974 to $1830.
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: 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 three models we tested performed well.
Ranging in price from $1750 to $3890, Smeg's wall ovens certainly aren't the cheapest on the market, but they do perform well for the price. The three models we tested in our wall oven reviews all 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 $329 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.
What about the stick blender?
While the Smeg blender is a good buy, the stick blender isn't as impressive. Priced at $259, the Smeg stick blender comes with a range of attachments to help you chop, process, whip and blend.
Our expert says 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.
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.