I always thought the Smart Fortwo was the perfect example of a product that seemed great on paper but came up short in reality. A tiny, super-efficient modern city car you can park anywhere? Great! But its execution was way off. The all-new 2016 Smart ForTwo and ForFour aim to fix its problems for good.
At an event in Berlin today, the folks at Daimler officially pulled the curtain back on the completely redesigned, third generation Smarts, and they look to be far more impressive efforts than the originals.
Both cars retain their rear-engine, rear-wheel drive layout but sit on entirely new platforms. That's a platform shared with the new Renault Twingo, a funky, colorful French hatchback we also rather appreciate.
The Fortwo has a wider track, but at 8.25 feet long, it's got the same length as the outgoing car. That's good news for the people who depend on these things for their ease of parking. It also boasts more overall interior space than the car it replaces.\
It also makes one of the biggest fixes to the old car: its gearbox. Finally, at long last, the Smart Fortwo can be had with a five-speed manual. (A small city car with a small engine AND a manual transmission — who'da thunk it!) Previously the Smart's sole tranny was a horrendous automated manual, but now you can row your own.
But if you don't want to, there's a "twinamic" automatic dual clutch transmission as well. Here's hoping it doesn't suck like the last one.
Under the hood... I mean, rear hatch, will be a range of sub 1.0-liter three-cylinder engines ranging in power from 60 to 90 horsepower; the latter has a turbocharger to top the range.
There's quite a few other improvements this time around, including LED daytime running lights, a touch-screen infotainment system and navigation, lane control assist, smartphone integration, and something called "Crosswind Assist" that performs automatic braking in emergency situations.
Edmunds reports the Smart Fortwo will go on sale in the U.S. in the fall of 2015. But the big question is whether we will get its larger brother, the four-door Smart ForFour. That's never made it over to our shores before, but it turned out to be an even more attractive and practical car than the smaller one. I actually think it would do well here.
Call me crazy, but I'm excited about the new Smart car. It seems like fun. Look at this guy! He seems like he's having fun in it. That guy wouldn't lie to us.