In what could only be the longest unveiling of all time, we finally have a new smart car! Well actually there are two. Typical. You wait for one and two come along at once. Not that there’s a problem with that at all. So everyone, welcome to the new smart fortwo and forfour.
The first smart was launched way back when (circa 1998). This was a time where Mercedes desperately needed to lower its average customer age so it needed a fresh new approach to cars. It teamed up with Swiss watch maker Swatch to come up with a funky and bold city car unlike anything Mercedes has ever done before. The result was the SMART project (Swatch Mercedes ART).
The fortwo was the first model launched and became known simply as the “smart car”. Over the course of its life it was updated and fettled with but for the most part it remained the same until 2013. In 2003 smart launched the roadster and roadster coupe. Unlike the fortwo these were rear-wheel drive which meant they were actually fun to drive. I loved these and really wanted one. I liked the idea of a small, two-seater, mid-engined, turbocharged Mercedes sports car. In 2005 can the launch of the forfour. In all honesty it wasn’t really a smart. Other smarts had bespoke platforms, this was a Mitsubishi Colt in a funky dress. Due to slow sales it was axed 2 years later along with the roadster.
So these new fortwo and forfour then. What’s what. From the off there’s no mistaking the ‘smart’ design language. The two-tone colour scheme, the awkward proportions, and the promise of multiple customisation schemes. I like it. I especially like the new face. It’s butched the car up but remains that smart cutesy charm. The forfour is a more sleek design. It pretty much looks like a fortwo that’s been stretched to fit a computer screen ratio. Oh and one design feature I particularly like is the cute wee side vent. Kinda like a Ferrari Testarossa. No?
That’s because both cars share the same front design as well as height and width dimensions (1550mm and 1660mm respectively). The fortwo is the shortest of the two (obviously) measuring in at 2690mm with a 1873mm wheelbases the forfour is 3490mm long and has a 2494mm wheelbase. The extra 600mm or so of wheelbase on the forfour allows for a large opening rear door too.
Round the back the two share different designs. The most notable difference would the tailgate. The fortwo retains its split-opening tailgate and has a luggage capacity of 260L. The forfour has a more conventional tailgate which opens up to a 185L boot, though with the rear seats folded down this expands to 900L. Now that’s smart packaging!
Engine choices will be limited to a 1.0-litre three cylinder Mitsubishi engine with 70bhp and 91NM of torque or a turbocharged 0.9-litre Renault engine with 90bhp and 135NM of torque. Am entry level version with a 61bhp version of the 1.0 engine will follow as well as a full electric model by 2016.
The fortwo and forfour share the same platform as the new Renault Twingo. Gone is the problematic robotised manual and in its place will be either a five-speed manual or a six-speed Getrag dual-clutch gearbox, similar to the one used in the Mercedes A/B/CLA/GLA. With the help of stop/start technology smart claims an average fuel consumption of around 3.2L/100km.
Inside the smart is packed with more safety and gadgets then ever before. It’ll have 7 airbags, crosswind assistance, forward collision warning, and lane keep assist. Standard models will come with a mechanical assisted power steering set up while posher models will have electrically assisted ones. Other new toys you get are LED daytime running lights, cruise control, and heated seats. You can even have a fabric soft top!
There’s an optional JBL sound system too which should keep young folk happy. Entry-level versions get a smartphone holder on the dash while top spec ones get a large touchscreen display with sat-nav. The interior is a funky looking place to spend time in, most of it covered in a sort of mesh fabric. No doubt this will have a gazillion different ways of personalisation. That’s a big thing for smart, they want to offer as much personalisation with each car for each customer. There are over 40 possible exterior combinations alone.
Unlike the Renault Twingo the smart pair will be coming to our shores in form or another. So who’s looking forward to that? It’ll be competing against the likes of the Fiat 500 & Panda, Skoda Citigo… Umm that’s really it. Hyundai don’t sell the i10 here, we don’t have any of tthe Aygo/C1/108 triplets here either. Does Kia sell the Picanto here? I guess we could consider the Suzuki Alto but no one else has so let’s not. I welcome more of these small-city cars and they don’t get smarter than a smart. Deciding which one to get is easy; it depends on how many friends you have.