By on May 30, 2014

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.

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30 Comments on “BREAKING: Smart Builds Something Desirable...”

  • avatar

    I fail to see how that is desirable, but to each his own.

    Additional: Here’s what might have been desirable: Rip off the gen 1 Mini in terms of footprint/weight and looks, then apply the same rear engine concept. This thing is clearly smaller, taller, and much uglier.

    • 0 avatar

      I desire a motorcycle engined first gen FourTwo.

    • 0 avatar

      Smart needs to be smaller than they are. Small enough to perpendicular park two to a parallel spot. Then the smallness amounts to something. They’re close, and I’ve seen people try, but it’s not legal anywhere I know of.

    • 0 avatar

      28, completely disagree. Why rip off the mini ? that car was ok but had some very obvious styling mishaps due to lack of finesse (i’m assuming you’re talking about the 1st gen BMW mini).

      Anyway I’m sure the Renault will put the styling on the smart to shame. And very desireable car to me the Renault is.

      • 0 avatar

        I rather have a japanesse Kei car over the smart.

        I love the concpet of smart, but the Automated manual transmission is really a kill joy, it wasnt smooth and it wasnt responsive and its very very dumb. The petrol engine is very2 slugish, might as well goes for diesel. The steering is heavy yet numb, ratio is too large, Not to mention you can really felt the weight of the car, inside its not spacious at all given its external dimension.

        Hayabusa powered smart roadster would be nice, but then again i would rather have one of these ( link below )

  • avatar

    With so many little, fashionable cars, what will make Smart special? The composite cage seems to be its main differentiator now, and how many people know about it? Are they dropping it or adapting it to the Twingo?

  • avatar

    They added a rack for golf bags*? They’re bringing the diesel version to the US?

    Doesn’t look all that desireable, but I’ll wait.

    * my parents live in a golf community. Golf carts are like a second car, but can’t really go on the roads to town. A smartcar golf cart would make an ideal second car. This wouldn’t work for everyone, but probably much more than the original cars (compare the population of Florida to that of NYC, which is about the only place smart 1.0 cars shine).

    • 0 avatar

      Dead on, the first time I saw a Smart with a golf bag rack on the back, I turned to my son and said we had just discovered the highest and best use of a Smart.

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        They seem to have carved out a small commercial vehicle niche. I see one in my area used by a window cleaning company. It has pole racks on the rear. Another is used by a elevator repair company.

  • avatar

    The CC and the smart car are my handiest mental reminders that Germans proportionately produce just as many bumblef*cks as any other population. I need these to battle my suppressed knee-jerking about their superiority.

  • avatar

    The current Smart is also rear-engined, rwd. It is the Twingo that is borrowing an architecture, and not the other way around. The Twingo has aways been a front-engined, fwd, rather ordinary car. Specially the Mk2, which was particularly not special at all.

    The ForFour was a rebadged Mitsubishi that sucked on its own, and the roadster has been dead for ages now. I’m sorry but I fail to see the point or relevance of this post.

    • 0 avatar

      Its relevant from the NorthAmerican perspective. While probably true the smart produced little profit, specially in Europe, the smart was a sales success. I just think it sucks.

      As to the Twingo, the 1st gen is a cult car that is a modern classic. It was more than just the sum of its parts. A rare car that can pull that off. To a lesser extent the current 500 will be like that for Fiat too in years to come.

  • avatar

    Derek, Renault has built a rear engined city car, it was in the sixties and it was called a Dauphine

  • avatar

    In Europe maybe?

    In the US, unless they move the price needle its DoA.

    A Nissan Versa, Chevy Spark, Toyota Yaris, or a completely stripped Fiat 500 offer more seats, more power, still provides a compact size, and equal to or beat base price to base price.

  • avatar

    I see what you did there. Well played!

  • avatar
    juicy sushi

    I think people are missing Derek’s point. RWD silliness will be possible with a warranty for a very low price, and if Smart decide to bring over a version using the parts of the Renault Sport Twingo that’s also coming, it’ll be a riot for those seeking a driver’s car on a budget.

  • avatar

    I get Derek’s point, but if I’m going tiny- I’ll go Abarth before a Smart. Unless of course they really infuse this thing with Character and handling.

  • avatar

    I have an unhealthy desire to get one of the new ForFours (since I assume we’re not getting the Renault in the US) and make a Twin’Run homage.

  • avatar

    But does it have a transmission not designed by apprentices in outer Slobovia? That’s the real question, because about 100 yards into your first drive of a Smart car, you already know it’s an utter joke, and that only pure cynics could OK that transmission for production. And then go on making it for ten years, pretending all is sweetness and light.

    After that, you find out how the oil is changed and you want to set the thing on fire.

    Gross incomoetence.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    From the looks of these prototypes they do seem a bit more substantial than the current model. More like a modern Fiat Topolino. If they get the transmission right they can ditch their joke image.

  • avatar

    The new ForTwo and ForFour are rumored to be the last chance the Daimler company wants to give to its Smart division. It has been hemorrhaging money from the very beginning at the astounding rate of close to $6,000 per Smart! IMO, it has to do with the fact that Smart is not allowed to become the perfect, stylish, little urban runabout it potentially can be, because that may well hamper Mercedes sales. I mean, just look at the two. The Fiat 500 is undoubtedly a better drive and more desirable wannahave. If you like the ForFour’s boxiness, then the new Aygo and Citroen C1 look more interesting too.

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