ForTwo review: a first look at the new Smart car
The new Smart car is wider, plusher and slicker, but the basic recipe is unchanged
Sixteen years after the launch of the original ForTwo, Mercedes' Smart car division has unveiled a new model of the diminutive two-seater. But will it save the Smart car badge and muscle in on Europe's competitive city-car market?
Here's what we know so far...
Looks: 'all-new' design remains urban-focused
Despite its "all-new" billing, the latest Smart ForTwo is much the same as the previous model, with two seats, a split-tailgate and a compact two-door body. The New York Daily News says the new model is "an evolution of Smart's previous design rather than a total overhaul".
It will be 100mm wider than its predecessor, which Ecomento claims will improve high-speed stability, but otherwise the dimensions will be exactly the same as the current model.
According to Autocar's Steve Cropley, this will allow the new Smart ForTwo to "retain many of the original car's best-loved characteristics", including its trademark manoeuvrability in rush-hour traffic.
Car Magazine says that city driving was "bread and butter" for the original ForTwo, and the improved turning circle of the latest model shows it'll still be fit for purpose on the urban beat.
Externally the new ForTwo has a more defined snout and LED headlights, but Smart's trademark two-tone colour scheme carries over, as does the "Tridion" safety cell that's been a feature of the ForTwo since its inception in 1998.
Internally the ForTwo retains its funky styling, but with new upholstery and soft-touch plastics that the New York Daily News says will "give it a more premium feel than its predecessor".
It also comes with Mercedes' new 'floating' infotainment system, sat-nav and an eight speaker JBL sound system. According to Car Magazine "you're also likely to find a multi-function steering wheel, heated seats and a 3.5-inch colour touchscreen display in the instrument cluster" on higher spec models.
What about under the bonnet?
Although the muscle remains modest, a trio of three-cylinder engines will be available on the new Smart ForTwo.
Car Buyer anticipates between 69bhp and 89bhp of power, with a third 59bhp petrol engine expected to follow soon. It is also rumoured that Brabus, Mercedes' in-house tuning division, will produce a 110bhp version of the ForTwo in 2015.
All engines are expected to achieve more than 70mpg, but even better economy will be possible from an electric version of ForTwo scheduled for 2016.
The old car's unpopular automated transmission has also been ditched, replaced with a crisp new five-speed manual and a dual-clutch unit.
How much will it cost?
The new Smart ForTwo is expected to go on sale in November, with prices starting at around £11,000.
Despite its cult following, the original ForTwo was not a profitable venture – last year analysts at Sanford C. Bernstein listed it as one of the car industry's biggest loss-makers.
The new car is being built in partnership with Renault, which should lead to economies of scale as parts are shared between the ForTwo and the French carmaker's Twingo model.