The Smart Forspeed concept features a high-gloss, striking design
Smart Forspeed is a real breath of fresh air and great fun to drive
Flat-out, you'll be doing 75mph. Battery range is limited at 84 miles
Throw it into a corner and grip levels are very pleasing. Body roll is almost nonexistant
Switchgear is logically placed and leather seats very comfortable
Dash is a mix of high-gloss plastics and leather
Flicking the boost switch frees up the extra 7bhp. A shame it wasn't working
What is it?
Smart’s Forspeed concept is a flies-in-your-teeth glimpse into the company’s future Fortwo model. And if this is anything to go by, we’re all in for a glossy treat.
The concept rides on the architecture of the Fortwo and features a tuned version of the electric drivetrain found in the current electric variant. The magneto-electric motor is powered by 16.5kW lithium-ion batteries, which are good for an 84 mile driving range and a top speed of 75mph, according to Smart.
Much like the funky 2002 Crossblade model, the Forspeed has its roof chopped off, its windscreen replaced with small wind deflectors and driving experience focused on fun. A Shame then that unlike the Crossblade, the Forspeed won’t make it to production.
Essentially, the Forspeed is a test bed for the company to gauge customer interest in its new design features and to welcome new ideas.
What's it like?
Climb inside the Forspeed and you’re swathed in a sea of high-end, high-gloss white plastics, which contrast nicely with green leather touches to the dash and door inserts.
Look around the airy cabin and you’ll find logically placed switchgear and a nicely finished leather-trimmed steering wheel. You sit comfortably in sleek leather seats, and would be forgiven for thinking that this concept is production ready, albeit with a futuristic flair. The green-coloured four-point harnesses seem a little unnecessary, but make more sense as the test gets underway.
Turn the key, stick the ‘box in ‘D’ and prod the bottle-opener-shaped handbrake switch and the magneto-electric motor launches the Forspeed with a pleasing sense of urgency. After about 35mph the initial surge of power drops off slightly, making it a perfect time to flick the overboost switch, had it worked. Any higher than 35mph, however, and flies turn into bullets, so probably a good thing the boost function was unattainable.
Steering is a bit of a miss-match between either too light or too heavy, the latter occurring after the initial quarter lock. Initially, this gripes, but it’s forgiven for the fact that it is still a concept.
Show it a quick corner, however, and the Forspeed’s short, stocky body, which sits on 18-inch wheels, clings on to every ounce of tarmac, making the reasoning behind the four-point harnesses more obvious. Body roll is kept to a minimum and inspires a firmer push of the not-so-loud, loud pedal.
Its brakes also inspire confidence. With a ‘modest’ weight reduction over the Fortwo cabriolet – the exact reduction wasn’t disclosed - the Forspeed’s front drilled discs and rear discs ensure that more than enough stopping power is on tap.
Should I buy one?
Given that it’s a priceless one-off and that bosses at Mercedes and Smart are quite fond of their creation, it’s a no. But if it were a model set for production, it would be a resounding yes.
The overall result of the Forspeed is one which doesn’t disappoint. It drives confidently, looks great – to these eyes at least – and paves the way for an exciting Smart future.
Smart Forspeed concept
Price: na; Top speed: 75mph; 0-37mph: 5.5sec; Economy: na; Co2: zero locally; Kerbweight: 800kg (est); Engine type, cc: rear-mounted, magneto-electric motor with overboost; Power: 47bhp; Torque: n/a; Gearbox: single speed transmission