This is the all-new Smart car, the long-awaited replacement for the original micro city car, which has been on sale for 15 years.
The car is based on an all-new platform, gets an all-new transmission and sticks closely to the ‘exposed safety cage’ styling of the original model.
Due to arrive in showrooms by next autumn (with a public debut a few weeks earlier) Autocar understands that while the new Smart has only crept up marginally in length, it is now noticeably wider (by around 120mm). These wider tracks are intended to greatly improve the Smart’s stability.
However tempting it might have been for Mercedes to stretch the Smart to accommodate at least one rear jump seat (in the style of the Toyota IQ), one of the biggest attractions of the current model is the ability to park it nose on the pavement (a huge appeal in Italy particularly) and the fact that many European car parks now have 3m-long parking spaces specifically for the Smart.
The Smart will again get a three-cylinder, sub 1.0-litre, engine, but this time around buyers won’t get a choice of petrol and diesel. The latter option was dropped because of the high factory cost of EU6-compatible diesel engines, something incompatible with a relatively inexpensive car.
Better news is the deletion of the Smart’s old-fashioned ‘manumatic’ transmission (a manual ‘box with automated clutch). It’s been replaced by the option of either a six-speed manual or a new six-speed dual-clutch transmission, which will banish the torque interruptions which so hampered the driving dynamics of earlier Smarts.
Also expect a follow-up of today’s limited edition electrically-powered Smart as well as the Cabrio version, which will be launched shortly after the coupe.