A genuine game-changer breaks with conventions. It doesn’t tinker with old concepts but does things differently – in all sorts of ways. It comes up with new and radical ideas. When the ultra-compact smart first arrived on the European market in 1998 (and in Canada in 2004), traditionalists were up in arms. A car just two and a half metres long? With an engine at the rear? Only two seats? And such small wheels! What were they thinking?
The answer – if there was ever really any doubt – was: the perfect city car, an agile four-wheeled miracle that creates parking spaces out of nowhere, is frugal on fuel and, thanks to its tridion safety cell, offers the kind of protection you would normally only find in much larger vehicles. This was a car for unconventional thinkers – and parkers. In short, the smart was revolutionary because it didn’t take its cue from other cars but from an idea: “reduce to the max.”
Now, in fall 2015, an all-new generation of the smart is taking to the road. Once again, it prides itself on being the quintessential city car – and what’s more, it promises to be just as innovative as the very first generation of this model, except that it will be more modern, feature many improvements and, 11 years down the line, will also be a lot more grown up.
The smart fortwo retains its appealing looks, but at the same time projects a much more self-assured image. The reason? At just 2.69 metres, its length is the same as before, but the car is a full 10 centimetres wider. It also has a wider track, which gives it a substantially sportier, more powerful stance. Adding to the sense of assurance is a higher hood, whose expressive curves are both attractive and eminently touchable. The effect is topped off by a new, larger radiator grille featuring the three-dimensional smart logo and an unusual honeycomb mesh, with holes that become smaller toward the edges. In a further attractive touch, the honeycomb theme is reprised in the covers of the new headlamps and even in the turn signals.
And in side view, the colour-contrasting tridion safety cell is once again a visible signature of the smart.
Attention to detail
Those extremely short overhangs and the rear-mounted engine also help to maximize interior space. While the smart is compact on the outside, you’d never know it when you’re sitting inside. And that general sense of spaciousness has become even more pronounced with the increase in width. Careful attention to detail is conspicuous both outside and in.
On most equipment lines, the large instrument panel and some parts of the doors are extensively trimmed with a colourful and irresistibly touchable fabric mesh material that resembles the breathable inserts in sports shoes. Each of the three equipment lines provides a different mix of materials and colours (for example, orange-coloured fabric trim, a leather steering wheel with black and grey accent features, and black leather seats with white topstitching and white panels). Each equipment line lends the interior a completely different character and personality – ranging from sporty to elegant or stylishly modern.
Take a seat and you’ll soon see there’s nothing sober or austere about the sensuous interior of this ultra-practical, ultra-compact city car. It’s also packed to the brim with clever ideas, like a side drawer in the centre console and a sliding magnifying-glass control for the climate system. If the easily collapsible front passenger seat backrest is folded all the way down, this small car can carry loads up to 1.55 metres in length.
Take a seat and you’ll soon see there’s nothing sober or austere about the interior of this ultra-practical and ultra-compact fun car for the city.
Also new is an instrument cluster with an 8.9-centimetre colour display (standard on all equipment lines), which ensures drivers have all the necessary information at their fingertips at all times. Motorists who hanker after even more high-tech trimmings in the cockpit can choose the optional media system featuring a 17.8-centimetre multi-touchscreen display, voice control and Bluetooth connectivity.
New assistance systems
The chassis, too, has grown in maturity and comfort – with longer spring travel, a redesigned front axle and a wider track that gives the car a more road-hugging look. But that extra comfort doesn’t come at the expense of agility. Far from it – the new model is even more nimble than its predecessor. For cornering aficionados, this agility turns the city into the perfect play-ground for nimble manoeuvres. The smart fortwo’s turning radius of just 6.95 metres sets a new benchmark. Often the fortwo can slot straight into a parking space on the other side of the street without having to turn and backtrack.
Meanwhile, new assistance systems of a type previously found only in cars in a much more expensive price bracket contribute to a relaxed and safe driving experience. The standard-fitted Crosswind Assist – active at speeds of 80 km/h and above – can detect sudden crosswind gusts, for example, when overtaking a truck, and keeps the vehicle stable through precisely controlled braking of one or more wheels. The new practical electronic assistance systems include optional forward collision warning, an audible and visual parking aid as well as a reversing camera.
As the revolution enters the next round, the new smart has improved on all the standout features of its predecessor, such as small dimensions, manoeuvrability, efficiency, unique styling and a commitment to unconventional solutions. It’s truly a car that keeps on living up to its name.