Despite any practical shortcomings it might have, we can’t give a concept like the ForTwo anything less than five stars in this department. Even more than a decade on from the car’s original launch, no other volume manufacturer has shown similar audacity or inventiveness in their cars’ construction or their packaging layout. We applaud, too, Smart’s persistence with making it work better this time.
The overall notion stays the same. The ForTwo is based on a high-strength ‘tridion’ safety cell and a visible steel monocoque with interchangeable plastic body panels mounted to it. The structure, according to engineers we’ve spoken to, is impressively strong in crash tests. Smart predicts four NCAP stars, which is impressive for a car with only 2695mm of length in which to squeeze its crumple zones.
The latest ForTwo is marginally bigger than the past model. It’s 195mm longer, most notably in the front overhang (up 72mm) because of pedestrian impact and US crash legislation. The wheelbase is up by 55mm and the remaining 68mm increase is in the rear overhang. Its engine is still under the boot floor.Design changes, meanwhile, are minimal, keeping the Smart instantly recognisable. See one alone and, at a glance, you’d be pushed to tell whether it’s the new model or the old one. But look closer and the clues are there: those overhangs look slightly longer and it’s a tad wider, making it appear slightly podgier and squatter.
The emphasis, says Smart, is on making the ForTwo look less like it’s on tiptoes and more “beefy”. Beefy? Like an angry jelly baby, perhaps. It’s still at the cute end of any styling scale. If it were a schoolboy, the only fights it would pick are with Ralph Wiggum. But given its target audience, that’s probably no bad thing at all.