At last, the all new Smart has made its debut. The car is more comfortable, but has retained its hallmark rear engine concept. It has now even found its way in the four seater forfour as well.
The car has also retained its three cylinder engine layout, but the days of the sequential automatic box are gone, so it seems. The Smart can be had with a 5-speed manual, or with the so-called "twinamic" automatic dual clutch transmission, which promises smoother gear changes.
The new forfour shares the chassis with the fortwo and has been co-developed wih Renault. It will come as the new Twingo, which will - as its legendary predecessor the 4 CV - have a rear mounted engine...
The new Smart will be launched into the market in Europe in November, but we tell you here already somewhat more about the car and also show you some photos...and, by sheer chance, on my holiday in France, I happened to share the table in one very charming "table d'hôte" villa with Bernard Lejeune, Senior Manager smart at smart France, at the production site of smart at Hambach. Of course, we discussed at length the new smart, its development and the preparations for its production at Hambach... Mr. Lejeune invited your servant for a factory visit, so more about all this in these columns!
Hans Knol ten Bensel
The inventors of individual urban mobility have kept the Smart just as short as the previous model: a mere 2.69 metres. There is again state-of-the-art three cylinder power in the back: the engines can be had in different stages of tune. At launch, a 52 kW/71 hp 999 cc engine is available as standard unit, with 91 Nm of torque available at 2850 rpm.
The styling department succeeded in keeping the typical Smart appearance in the new model... it is indeed a "true" Smart...
But there is already plenty of pulling power on call from as low as 1000 rpm, and this is necessary to enable economical city driving. This is achieved thanks to variable inlet valve lift, amongst other things, like variable swirl control in the combustion chamber for instance. The totally new turbocharger features also an electronically controlled waste gate, for that necessary oomph at low revs. The top of the range engine has not less than 90 hp or 66 kW with torque of 135 Nm at 2500 rpm. A "base" 45 hp engine will come soon after launch.
As said, they are mated to a manual five speed box, on an automatic dual clutch "twinamic" transmission. We are quite intrigued by this new automatic, but could not find more information from the manufacturer at this stage, except that this is a six speed transmission.
Despite its compact size, safety has always been a big issue with the Smart, and therefore the famous Tridion Safety Cell is retained. One finds in the new Smart a high proportion of hot formed ultra high strength steel, together with high strength so-called multiphase steel.
Cross wind assist is standard, and forward collision warning and lane keeping assist are optional electronic safety aids.
The new chassis is designed to enhance comfort. The front axle retains elements from the previous C-Class, and the rear De Dion suspension has been further perfected.
Hallmark of the new Smart is also its ultra short turning circle. The car sits on a 100 mm wider track, and this gives it also more sure-footedness in fast corners.
Of course, the Smart has ABS, ASR and ESP standard. Also a so-called "Direct Steer" system with variable ratio and electric power decision make the new Smart steer with precision and agility.
The four seater version shares the same chassis with the fortwo. The engine sits also in the rear, and also many elements like the front end are identical for both versions. The platform is shared with the new Twingo, and indeed some co-engineering is done with Renault. The future Twingo will also have – like the “original” 4CV – a rear mounted engine…
Prices will correspond to the previous Smart versions, with the forfour costing some 600 Euros extra.
The interior design of both versions is easy-going and charming, as the manufacturer puts it, with the "loop" theme playing a central role. This emotional sweep is the "Leitmotiv" One finds this back in the dashboard and door mouldings. Gone is the iconical two spoke steering wheel, replaced by a three-spoke version.
But you will keep smiling behind this new wheel, if it were only for its admirable economy. You can expect some 4 litres per 100 km, with emissions in the region of 95 g of CO2 per km. Of course, an all-electric version will be in the cards...
We look forward to seeing the car "in the flesh", but here we show you already some photos...
Hans knol ten Bensel