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The Cars of the SMART Car Company

With a fantastic motto of “Open your mind”, the smart automobile company breaks common conventions in the automotive world. Their experimentation with micro and subcompact vehicles was underway during the 70s and 80s. Initially it was as a forward thinking cooperative project between Swatch and Mercedes. Swatch Mercedes ART was abbreviated to SMART and officially founded in 1994. With this their unique design focus on small stylish city cars was born. Continue reading below for a brief rundown of their quirky models and their progression over the years.

The ForTwo

Smart’s first appearance on the public market was a tiny 3-door hatchback that broke the mould. For most it was immediately out of the ordinary with microcar dimensions, only 2 seats, a rear mounted engine and rear wheel drive. Whilst quirky it was also quite practical and popularity soon grew. Since then the model has been through 3 generations. As the company’s original and bestselling model they have produced approximately 1.7 million units to date.

Generation I (1998-2007)

Smart’s debut city car and powered by tiny 599cc three-cylinder turbo engine. The construction used interchangeable plastic panels with toughened steel safety bars. It had a wheelbase of just 70”, length of 100” and a width under 60”. Weighing only 730kg it was also the lightest car on European market. It broke convention in all aspects.

Generation II (2007–2014)

With the 2nd generation their original model saw a little refinement. The ForTwo’s dimensions grew marginally, it underwent a light cosmetic facelift and provided increased crash safety. The interior was also revised to improve comfort and in car entertainment. The engine sizes grew up to 1L petrol, both turbo and naturally aspirated.

Generation III (2014–present)

With the most recent incarnation, the ForTwo is fully modernised whilst still retaining the original approach. They are still equipped with small 3-cylinder engines but power has been increased. The vehicle dimensions have swollen to increase drivability. The ForTwo has been significantly renovated both inside and outside to compete in the modern market. With increased comforts and safety comes an increase in weight, but at only 880kg it’s still a lightweight.

Roadster (2003-2005)

The Roadster model brings an MG B and Triumph Spitfire inspired spin on the ForTwo. The platform was stretched in length to create a sportier chassis. They used their more powerful 698cc engines and kept the weigh below 800kg.

It was available with two roof options, a removable targa top or electric soft-top. The Roadster could even have sequential gears and paddle shift!

In it’s time it received a Fun Car Of The Year Award for 2005 by Top Gear. Sadly the model suffered a number of issues, the cost of recalls killed their production. We patiently wait for the Roadster to return.

The ForFour

The ForFour model presented a 5-door entry into the supermini class. To facilitate transport of four passengers the dimensions of the ForTwo had to be expanded. The company produced a more conventional compact car with increased functionality and space. They used more powerful engines and borrowed their platforms from other successful models.

Generation I (2004-2006)

The 1st generation ForFour was based on the Mitsubishi Colt’s platform. For the first time the company switched to common layout, front mounted engine and front wheel drive. The wheelbase grew to 100”, the length stretched to 150” and the width to 66”. Available engine options ranged from 1.1-1.5 petrol engines and 1.5 diesel engines.

Generation II (2014- Present)

After disappearing for 8 years, the ForFour finally reared its head again. This time it’s fully modernised and shares the Renault Twingo platform. In fact it made from almost 70% Twingo’s parts, plus mechanics from their 3rd gen ForTwo. Most notably the model switches back to smart’s signature layout, rear engine and rear wheel drive.


Offbeat  03/11/2015 09:34:49

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