Smart is back with a new version of its ForTwo city car, promising more internal space and distinctive design while still preserving the tiny footprint, and it's resurrecting the ForFour in the process. Sticking to the parking-friendly 2.69m (8.83 feet) length, the new ForTwo keeps its rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout with a trio of new three-cylinder engines, an electric version, convertible option, and plenty of safety technology and other components borrowed from Mercedes' C-Class.
Many doubted the ForTwo would find any buyers in the US, but the compact city car found around 9,200 buyers in 2013. Smart is hoping the new version will lift that number further, with urban drivers drawn to the 6.95m curb-to-curb turning circle and the ability to drop down the front passenger seat completely to extend luggage space.
Outside, the ForTwo gets the familiar short overhangs, but its track is now 10cm wider and the bonnet higher. The front grille is larger, with the honeycomb showing a fade effect, and the lights have been reshaped. The stronger shoulder line leads back to the twin-section tailgate, and fancier multi-part LED tail-lamps are optional. Forty color combinations will be offered.
Crosswind Assist is now standard, while forward collision warning and lane-keeping assistance are options. The new ForTwo borrows elements of the previous C-Class' front axle, improving spring travel among other things, and hopefully boosting ride quality on shoddy city roads.
Three gas engines will be offered: a 1-liter 71HP, 898cc turbo with 90HP and auto stop/start, and an entry-level 60HP version. Rather than just the (somewhat jerky) automatic of the old cars, Smart will offer a new five-speed manual (though probably not in the US) and a six-speed dual-clutch auto.
2015 Smart ForTwo:
As for the ForFour, Smart is bringing back the old name with a new car, more clearly based on its two-seater sibling. Effectively a stretched ForTwo, the four-seater has a single-piece tail-gate and a more sloping roof-line.
Its turning circle, meanwhile, is still small, at 8.65m curb-to-curb. Rear seats down, it has a 975 liter trunk capacity (versus 350 liters for the ForTwo). Both get mechanical steering with electrical power-assistance, and can be spec'd with optional Sports suspension making them 10mm lower and switching out the regular springs for firmer versions.
2015 Smart ForFour:
Tech-wise, there's a "hovering" infotainment display in the center stack, a 3.5-inch color display in the driver binnacle, and heated seats, depending on whether buyers go for Passion, Prime, or Proxy trim levels. LED driving lights, cruise control, and front electric windows are standard.
Optional is a JBL sound system with a 240W amp and eight speakers in the ForTwo, and 320W and twelve speakers in the ForFour. Touchscreen navigation and smartphone integration are also options, with a handy cradle to slot your phone in with pride-of-place.
Even with the Smart in its third generation, one of the big questions many still have about the car is around safety. Smart knows it can talk until it's blue in the face about the protective Tridion "roll cage" shell, but sometimes it's better just to show your dinky city car going head-to-head in a crash test with a brand new (and comparatively vast) Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
In Europe, the new Smart ForTwo and ForFour will hit forecourts this November; Smart expects the ForTwo to be priced the same as the outgoing model, while the ForFour will be around €600 ($827) more than the two-seater, engine-for-engine.
As for the US, that won't get the new ForTwo until the fall of 2015, and Smart currently has no plans to offer the ForFour in the US at all. Pricing is yet to be confirmed, but we'd expect to see it arrive from around the same $13,270 of the existing car. The lingering question is, can Smart convince more than 10k of US buyers a year that the ForTwo makes sense? Let us know what you think in the comments.