Auto blogFri, 14 Nov 2014 16:30:00 EST
Those in the market for a city car with a bit of pep are undoubtedly pleased that Daimler has slotted a turbocharged three-cylinder engine into its new Smart Fortwo. But it's the only engine confirmed so far for US dealers, and with only 89 horsepower and 100 pound-feet of torque on tap, there's still room for improvement. Fortunately Daimler is considering just such a prospect.
Speaking with Smart powertrain engineers while in Barcelona to drive the new Fortwo, Autoblog was told that the prospect of a more powerful Brabus model is indeed on the table, although details and exact specifications are still being worked out. We spotted just such a prototype under development this past summer, when our sources estimated the new Brabus model would offer between 105 and 120 hp. But looking at the relative increases which the venerable Daimler tuner has managed in the past, our appetites are whetted anticipating the possibility of something even more potent.
We could be looking at a new Smart Brabus with nearly 130 hp, which in a six-foot wheelbase could make it a real firecracker.
In the sixteen years since Daimler first introduced the Smart car, the micro city car market has grown significantly to the extent that the urban-oriented brand doesn't just have more competition to contend with these days than it did in the late 90s; for the first time it has real competition on its hands altogether. In other words, while the Smart Fortwo once had the micro city car market almost entirely to itself, new rivals have emerged to challenge its dominance.
It may be a long time, if ever, before slightly larger contenders like the Scion iQ and Volkswagen Up! catch up to the 1.6-million units Smart has moved since it first hit the market back in 1998, somehow never managing to turn a profit along the way. But the bottom line is that Smart's position in the market is far from assured, especially relying, as it has, on the same architecture for over a decade and a half.
So after strongly hinting at the way forward with a series of show cars, Daimler revealed the all-new Smart Fortwo and its bigger brother, the Forfour, in July ahead of its debut at last month's Paris Motor Show. With both the brand's future and its supremacy in the urban mobility market hanging in the balance, we boarded a flight to Barcelona to see what Daimler had up its short sleeve. What we found was a two-seat city car that's not just a substantial improvement over the model it replaces, but an altogether different beast- one which doesn't aspire to be everything to everyone, but just might be what drivers in the world's densest urban cores will need... and little more.
The 2016 Smart Fortwo and Forfour are at the 2014 Paris Motor Show showing off their brand new looks for their latest generations, and the company hopes that an extensive list of changes can give the brand a much-needed boost.
The redesign definitely gives siblings a personality while keeping Smart's traditional looks. These happy-go-lucky hatchbacks have a slight upward curve with headlights in either corner that make both of them appear to be smiling. With about 40 different available color schemes, buyers should have no problem finding just the right shade to fit their style.
Underneath the jovial look is an all-new platform shared with the similarly quirky Renault Twingo. Mounted in the rear are a trio of available three-cylinder gasoline engines with 60-, 71- and 90-horsepower on offer. Gearbox options amount to either a five-speed manual or Smart's "twinamic" dual-clutch transmission.
By now AMG has produced versions of just about everything Mercedes makes, right down to the A-Class, CLA and GLA. But while even the smallest of Benzes have fallen under Affalterbach's knife, Daimler's performance division steers clear of the Smart brand and its products. For that, the German automaker collaborates with another legendary Silver Star tuner.
Brabus first worked its magic on the original Smart Fortwo in 2003, packing a warmed-over 700cc engine with 74 horsepower along with upgraded aero and rolling stock. The second-generation Brabus model took things further with a 101-hp 1.0-liter engine and other go-fast(er) goodies. And now that the new Fortwo is upon us, it looks like Brabus is at it again.
Spied with a camo wrap but no visible body cladding, the new Brabus city car is expected to pack more of a punch than its predecessors, with estimates ranging from 105 to 120 hp - which may not be much for most cars, but promises to transform the Smart into something more aggressive, especially when paired with a sportier suspension, dual exhaust and aero kit.
Smart is just getting ready to launch its new Fortwo and Forfour minicars, riding on a completely different platform, and the diminutive brand wants to show that its latest creations can stand up to some serious abuse. For such a tiny car, the crashworthiness of the Smarts is a legitimate concern when taking on larger, heavier vehicles. To prove their survivability, the company filmed a head-on collision pitting the latest Fortwo against a Mercedes-Benz S-Class weighing more than twice as much.
When it unveiled the latest cars, Smart touted that it crash-tested them against the larger Mercedes-Benz C-Class and S-Class. Among their updates, the Fortwo and Forfour use a substructure containing ultra-high strength, hot-formed steel and maximum-strength, multiphase steel. They also have larger crumple zones.
Of course, Smart can make all the claims that it wants about the cars' safety, but actually showing it to people is much more convincing. At 5,088 pounds, the S-Class dominates the 2,478-pound Fortwo in terms of weight. Scroll down to see how the little hatchback fares against the more expensive, luxury sedan in a 31-mile-per-hour frontal crash.
Meet the 2016 Smart Fortwo and Forfour, a new pair of hatchbacks that Daimler hopes will revive the struggling Smart brand. We aren't expecting to see the Forfour here in the US market, although the smaller Fortwo should eventually hit our shores in the future.
Following yesterday's teaser sketches, it's plain to see that those drawings were fairly close to what we're seeing here. The new Smarts boast styling inspired heavily by the brand's concepts, with a bolder, sportier aesthetic.
Both two-door and four-door boast rear-engine layouts, with power coming from a trio of three-cylinder, gas-powered engines.
Smart is slated to debut both the next-generation Fortwo and the all-new Forfour in Berlin tomorrow evening, with the struggling city car manufacturer making the lofty claim that the new models will be "the best city cars in the world."
Ahead of that debut, Smart has released a trio of sketches that show off the new, two-seat Fortwo and its new, bolder (it's a relative term, people) design language. Gone is the slab-sided appearance of the last Fortwo, as the new model should sport a pair of fairly substantial character lines along its sides. It's difficult to tell from the sketches, which naturally exaggerate some of the styling aspects, but it looks like we can expect slightly flared wheel arches, as well as an all-new front fascia. That face looks to be inspired by the FourJoy concept, and boasts large headlights and a more pronounced grille. It's a similar story in back, where FourJoy-inspired styling dominates, with prominent rhomboidal taillights.
In the cabin, Smart's clean, funky aesthetic remains on display, boasting a minimalist look that should help avoid feelings of claustrophobia. A three-spoke steering wheel with a large, single-element instrument cluster greets the driver, while an interesting, oval shape dominates the doors.
We are right on the precipice of the launch on an all-new generation of the Smart Fortwo in July. While the current one isn't exactly loved by US reviewers, the latest model rides on a fresh platform shared with the Renault Twingo in Europe. The company seems to be aiming for wider success this time with both two- and four-door versions on the way. In two new videos, the automaker cheekily shows us exactly what not to expect from its upcoming vehicle with a promo for its biggest city car ever.
The videos are actually kind of funny, and they slyly mock the concept of larger vehicles being better, especially in urban areas. Whatever Smart has up its sleeve for the next Fortwo, it's a very safe to bet that this is exactly the opposite, but these videos are certainly a clever marketing ploy.
Scroll down to check out of the world's largest subcompact.
Smart has tried its darnedest to diversify. It introduced the Smart Roadster in 2003 and the Forfour in 2004. It even did the Crossblade speedster in 2002. But each of those has fallen by the wayside, leaving the Fortwo as its only product. But that's all about to change.
After a long string of concept cars, the Smart brand is slated to introduce its all-new range at the Paris Motor Show come October. There it is expected to reveal both two-door and four-door versions of its new city car, based on common architecture with the new rear-engined Renault Twingo and with a keen eye fixed on the new Toyota Aygo, Citroën C1 and Peugeot 108.
Whether Daimler succeeds at broadening the Smart brand's range this time around remains to be seen, but in the meantime it has released this teaser video demonstrating the evolution of the design, which we've included below for your urban-transport enjoyment.
A French marketing firm with the impenetrable name of Street Glory Mappers is literally turning cars into billboards. Of course, we've all seen vehicles painted up for promotional use, but this company is taking that concept even further by including video.
Street Glory Mappers equips the vehicles with a large video screen behind the windshield to play whatever is being advertised. According to the company's promo, it may even be possibly to sync up the vehicle's lights with the show, as well. The firm claims that it's a great form of temporary, mobile marketing because the car can arrive at the location, play the video and then go away when the prospective audience leaves.
While it doesn't necessarily seem any more effective than other forms of advertising, the firm's idea is at least unobtrusive. After all, it's easier to ignore a stationary car than a person handing out flyers. However, vehicle flashing its lights and playing video could certainly distract other drivers.