One of our eagle-eyed readers with excellent camera-grabbing skills snapped us these pictures of a test mule leaving Mercedes-Benz' R&D campus near Ann Arbor, Michigan. The little car that sort of looks like a wheeled Storm Trooper's helmet is a mule for a new Smart.
It's actually a cut-down Renault Twingo that's been seen before acting as a chassis mule for the new Smart ForTwo. This strange mix is thanks to the Diamler-Renault alliance, and is probably not a safe bet for what the final product will look like.
The mule has proportions closer to something like a Toyota/Scion/Aston Martin iQ than a normal Smart, but there does appear to still be a rear intake that suggests that Smarts will remain one of the few rear-engine/rear-drive cars available.
This new platform is expected to be stretched into a new rear-engined four (or more) seater Smart, which has the potential to become the closest thing to a modern VW Microbus, certainly technically closer than any of the concepts VW never seems to get around to building.
Maybe it's my rear-engine affectations, but I'm hoping this next Smart platform turns into something interesting. A little rear engined van-like vehicle sure sounds good, and I'm even going to hope, just a little bit, for a return of the old Smart Roadster.
So nobody jinx it, please.