Smart just debuted its new fortwo and forfour city cars at an event in Berlin marking the return of a four-seat car to the brand.
Daimler developed the new generation of cars in conjunction with Renault, retaining the rear-engine setup from previous fortwo models. The forfour and fortwo are based on the same platform, of course with a bigger chassis for the four-passenger version. The new fortwo will begin arriving in U.S. dealerships sometime next year for the 2016 model year. A Mercedes representative said the company hasn’t made a decisions yet about launching the new forfour in this market.
Both cars wear updated sheet metal with a curvier look pulled from the concept cars smart trotted out at auto shows over the last several years. Important as the updated styling will be in improving the fortwo’s image beside more stylish city cars, extensive mechanical changes the company revealed today will probably play a bigger role in determining how the new fortwo and forfour are received.
Rather than using the automated single-clutch gearbox that the current fortwo uses, smart is implementing a dual-clutch transmission along with a five-speed manual. The powertrain is available with one of two engines: a 1.0-liter naturally aspirated three-cylinder that makes 71 hp 67 lb-ft of torque or a smaller 0.9-liter turbo three-cylinder with 90 hp and roughly 100 lb-ft of torque. After the initial product launch the company will also offer a less powerful 60 hp engine as well, though the company hasn’t said which of those powertrains will be sold here.
The standard equipment list announced today includes LED daytime running lights, cruise control with a variable speed limiter, an exterior temperature thermometer and a monochrome LCD display in the instrument cluster among others.
Smart is also offering touch screen navigation and smartphone integration along with an optional JBL sound system designed specifically for the car that includes a removable subwoofer to save cabin space when necessary.
Aside from adding content, the new car also comes with features meant to make it safer. For example, they all come with a crosswind counteracting feature meant to keep the car from swerving after hitting a strong surprise gust while driving at 50 MPH and above. There is also optional forward collision warning as well as a lane-keeping feature that prevents the car from drifting into another lane. Smart also performed crash tests with larger vehicles; specifically the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and S-Class. Smart said the crash tests far exceeded European requirements although that says nothing about how the car will perform once the IIHS smashes a few of them during its grueling battery of tests.
GALLERY: 2016 smart fortwo, forfour
Discuss this story at our smart car forum