In the automotive world “Smart” is little more than a punchline, a symbol of bad packaging and failed branding. The current lineup of cars has dragged on for far too long, languishing without any upgrades and watching its market share recede as newer, more exciting entrants come in to play. But the next generation might be a chance for the brand to do a complete 180.
Smart’s “1.0” lineup consisted of the Smart Fortwo, the Roadster/Coupe, which we didn’t get, and the ForFour, an oddly-styled derivate of the front-drive Mitsubishi Colt. None of the models really fit with one another, but that’s about to change.
The next Smart cars will share their underpinnings with the new Renault Twingo. The Twingo is, of course, a rear-engined, rear-drive layout, just like a Porsche 911 and the craziest rally-inspired hot hatches of 30 years ago.
Both the ForTwo and ForFour will be the same car this time, just with (obviously) two and four doors, and sharing a production line with the Twingo in Slovakia. That, says Daimler boss Dieter Zetsche, should finally bring some profit to the brand – and some exciting product too. It’s about damn time for both. Who would have ever thought that a Smart car would be exciting? Then again, who would have thought Renault would launch a rear-engined city car. Even as regulations tighten and economies of scale force increasing homogenity, we are treated to little miracles like this. It’s not such a bad trade-off.