The rapidly expanding Smart range will move further away from its micro-car roots when this secret new off-roader hits UK showrooms within two years.
Called Formore, in line with Smart’s new naming policy that has already spawned the Fortwo (previously the City Coupé) and the Forfour (the supermini co-developed with Mitsubishi), the new 4x4 will be aimed at the Toyota RAV4, Land Rover Freelander and Honda CR-V, making it the biggest Smart yet.
Smart’s soft-roader will go on sale in 2006 to spearhead the brand’s launch in the US. Right-hand-drive production will be delayed, but officials are confident it will reach UK showrooms by the end of 2006, priced from around £16,000.
It is the first time a Smart has been developed alongside a Mercedes – in this instance, the new X-class. Autocar revealed the first details of Merc’s junior SUV earlier this month – it will go on sale a year after the Smart, in 2007.
The two cars will share much of their mechanical package and will be built at the same DaimlerChrysler factory that builds American-market C-class models. Maximum capacity for the Juiz de Fora plant in Brazil, is 60,000 cars a year and half of those will go straight to the SUV-hungry US market.
‘The Formore will be a distinctive vehicle, unique in the market,’ said Smart president Andreas Renschler. ‘It will provide a driving experience loaded with adrenaline, off road as well as on, expressive design and a high utility value. It is the ideal model to launch the Smart brand in the US market.’
Unlike the new breed of faux SUVs, like the front-wheel-drive Rover Streetwise and Citroën C3 XTR, the Formore will have proper four-wheel-drive technology, borrowing mechanicals from the C-class 4Matic.