Smart ForTwo

Published: 10 November 2006

New Smart ForTwo: the lowdown

These are the first pictures of the new Smart ForTwo, which goes on sale in the UK in September 2007. The Mk2 city car looks much the same, but it's had a thorough overhaul. In comes a 1.0-litre engine with more power, mated to an automated manual transmission that's claimed to eliminate today's slow and jerky changes. This Smart is bigger, too, with a longer wheelbase to reduce the choppy ride. Smart has also boosted the ForTwo's interior space, equipment and safety performance. Prices for the coupe and cabrio will remain much the same as today's, which means a start point just short of £7000.

New Smart, old looks

Smart’s designers must have had plenty of time down the pub, because the new ForTwo looks nigh on identical to the old ForTwo. All the key Smart design cues – smiley grille, different tone Tridion safety cage, outboard wheelarches – are present and correct. The most noticeable change is the enlarged headlamps with integrated indicators, replacing today’s melting figure of 8 design. The bonnet sits higher and is steeper, to keep pedestrians away from underbody hard points in the even of a collision.

And at the rear…

It’s the same story: evolution at a glacial pace. When turning the door handles through 90 degrees is a major talking point – to make opening the door more conventional – you know you’re short on headlines. The rear lamps are split into two ovals, and the screen more raked to make it look more coupe-like, but it’s pure Smart. The design brief was to make the city car more masculine, assisted by bigger proportions.

How big?

The ForTwo has grown in every dimension. It’s 2695mm-long, up195mm to boost cabin and luggage space and put more steel between the wheels. So the wheelbase is stretched by 55mm, in a bid to smooth the current car’s fidgety ride. The track is also wider to enhance stability.

The engine room

All Smarts use a new 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine, a stretched version of Mitsubishi’s 660cc unit that’s already offered in Japanese firm’s i city car. It’s available with three outputs: 61, 71 and 84bhp. The lower output engines are naturally aspirated, with a turbo employed to summon 84 horses. A higher output Brabus version will also arrive in late 2007. Smart has yet to confirm fuel consumption, but all versions are claimed to return at least 56.5mpg on the combined cycle. A 45bhp diesel engine will also be offered in mainland Europe, but this unit is not currently heading to the UK. The engine is mounted at the rear, and turns the back wheels via a new Getrag clutchless manual. The previous six-speed computer controlled ‘box made the Mk1 almost undriveable, with its frustratingly slow and jerky changes. Smart vows shift times have been cut in half with the new five-speed ‘box. Again, there’s an auto mode, as well as manual changes via the central stick.

The ForTwo convertible

The soft top Smart is much…smarter. The roof can be operated at any speed, and it now locks in place automatically, without the need for your concubine to get out and latch it. The glass rear window is also heated. The cabrio weighs just 15kg more than the coupe, due to the strengthening of the windscreen pillars and the additional rear rollover bar.

Under the plastic skin

The Smart retains those distinctive plastic panels; the chassis beneath has had a complete overhaul, to boost agility and comfort. The wider track and longer wheelbase should reduce pitching and rolling. New dampers on the front MacPherson struts and rear axle tweaks should dial out roll, too. The basic wheel size is 15-inches in diameter. Sharper rack-and-pinion steering is also fitted to the new ForTwo, with optional electric assistance. Smart claims a turning circle of 8.75m. ESP is standard, along with brake assist, which boosts pedal pressure to reduce stopping distances in an emergency. A four star Euro NCAP crash rating is predicted, and side impact protection has also been enhanced. The ForTwo will go on sale in the land of the giants – the US – from 2008, so the city car is also engineered to meet its crash regs. Twin airbags are standard on every model, and head/thorax airbags optional.

The inside story

Smart claims that the bigger ForTwo offers the interior space of a small saloon car, with plenty more space for legs and shoulders than before. The dash no longer curves in an S-shape to avoid compromising passenger safety. As with the exterior, the cabin design is classic Smart: pronounced vents, instrument pods atop the dash and chunky stereo and ventilation controls. In the boot, up to 220 litres can be stowed – that’s not far off a Ford Fiesta’s capacity.

Under the plastic skin

The Smart retains those distinctive plastic panels; the chassis beneath has had a complete overhaul, to boost agility and comfort. The wider track and longer wheelbase should reduce pitching and rolling. New dampers on the front MacPherson struts and rear axle tweaks should dial out roll, too. The basic wheel size is 15-inches in diameter. Sharper rack-and-pinion steering is also fitted to the new ForTwo, with optional electric assistance. Smart claims a turning circle of 8.75m. ESP is standard, along with brake assist, which boosts pedal pressure to reduce stopping distances in an emergency. A four star Euro NCAP crash rating is predicted, and side impact protection has also been enhanced. The ForTwo will go on sale in the land of the giants – the US – from 2008, so the city car is also engineered to meet its crash regs. Twin airbags are standard on every model, and head/thorax airbags optional.

The inside story

Smart claims that the bigger ForTwo offers the interior space of a small saloon car, with plenty more space for legs and shoulders than before. The dash no longer curves in an S-shape to avoid compromising passenger safety. As with the exterior, the cabin design is classic Smart: pronounced vents, instrument pods atop the dash and chunky stereo and ventilation controls. In the boot, up to 220 litres can be stowed – that’s not far off a Ford Fiesta’s capacity.

By Phil McNamara

Editor-in-chief of CAR magazine

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