Do not adjust your set – this isn’t a Euro NCAP crash-tested Renault Twingo on the loose. This is the new Smart ForTwo undergoing hot weather testing in Death Valley, USA, underneath a cut-and shut Renault Twingo body.
Where are the clues we’re looking at the new Smart ForTwo?
In our gallery, right, ypu'll spot something you’ll have never seen on a Renault Twingo before: a rear-mounted engine air intake. That’s because the new Smart ForTwo and ForFour supermini family, which will share drivetrain parts with the next-gen Renault Twingo, will all use a rear-engine, rear-wheel drive configuration, improving space-efficiency and crash safety.
So will there be a Renault-badged microcar too?
No – Daimler is going it alone. After ploughing funds into the Twizy and Zoe electric car range, Renault has pulled out of the ForTwo programme, citing cost. Renault will still reap some benefits via shared rear-drive componentry, which it’ll use in the next Twingo, but plans for a Renault microcar? They’re shelved.
What’s the Smart’s rear-mounted engine range?
There’ll be a choice of an 88bhp electric powertrain, a 65bhp 0.9-litre three-cylinder petrol, and a pair of turbocharged engines, rated at 85bhp and 105bhp. A diesel version isn’t on the cards.
What can you tell about the interior?
At first glance it looks like an untidy current Twingo cabin, but there are Smart cues aplenty inside this test mule. First off, there’s a large central instrument binnacle, housing what looks to be a left-mounted rev counter and a fuel gauge on the right-hand side. The central screen between the dials will provide a digital speed readout – it’s essentially the same instrument set-up as the current Renault Clio, but fashioned into a classic Smart ‘pod’ atop the dashboard.
How about the transmission?
There’s a semi-auto gear selector clearly visible between the two seats, as seen on all previous Smart ForTwos. However, CAR’s sources report a manual version will be offered, and it’ll cost £1000 less than the city-friendly auto.
When can I see the new Smart ForTwo?
Set to be unveiled in March 2014, the new Smart ForTwo will be around 40mm longer and 13mm wider than today’s version. A hard-top will arrive first, with a canvas-roofed cabrio version going on sale in summer 2014.
>> The new Renault Twingo will share rear-drive components with the tiny Smart, but offer four seats and sub £10k prices. Read the CAR scoop on the future of the sporty RS Twingo here