New Fourfour will be twinned with Renault Twingo; electric, petrol and diesel options; rear-drive
16 April 2010

Smart is set for a major product overhaul that will give it a successor to the discontinued Forfour supermini.

Petrol, diesel, hybrid and all-electric powertrains are all part of the plan for both this car and the all-new Fortwo, as Smart prepares to take on BMW’s Project i city car.

See the rendering of the next Smart Forfour

In a move that its chairman, Dieter Zetsche, says will provide Smart with financial stability and the scope for growth, parent firm Daimler will jointly develop the third-gen Fortwo (due in 2012) and the new Forfour (planned for 2014) in partnership with Renault and its Japanese partner Nissan.

The first car to hail from the partnership will be a Fortwo replacement. The compact two-seater, set for launch in coupé guise in 2012, will use a new modular platform that is in the final stages of development at Mercedes-Benz’s R&D centre in Sindelfingen, Germany.

It will be followed by a new Renault city car based on the same platform and produced alongside the Fortwo at Smart’s existing factory in Hambach, France.

As with today’s model, the new Fortwo and its Renault sibling will continue with a rear-engined/rear-drive layout and exposed ‘tridion’ safety cell.

Two years after the new Fortwo, Smart will again try to muscle its way into Europe’s largest market segment with a successor to the four-door Forfour. It will use a lengthened version of the Fortwo platform, complete with its rear-engined/rear-drive layout. It will share this platform with Renault’s next Twingo and will be built alongside it at Renault’s factory at Novo Mesto, Slovenia.

The set-up should provide generous economies of scale between the Fortwo and the Forfour. Sources say this will allow the new car to be priced more keenly than the old one.

Unlike the first Forfour, which used a conventional two-box design, the new model is set to adopt a more upright one-box profile. At 3500mm in length and 1550mm in height, the new Smart will be around 800mm longer than today’s Fortwo.

The new car will retain the exposed safety cell but is likely to use steel panels in place of the Fortwo’s composite ones for ease of manufacture. The Forfour should also adopt a combination of conventionally hinged front doors and sliding rear ones; the latter set-up was previewed on Mercedes’ F800 Style Geneva show concept.

Inside, the Forfour will provide seating for four adults. As with the Fortwo, the seats will be set high for ease of entry. Luggage space will be limited, with the boot compartment sitting above the engine at the rear. But fold-down rear seats will be standard, allowing owners to tailor the space to their own requirements.

Power for the new Forfour will come from a new range of four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines that are under development as part of the Daimler/Renault-Nissan co-operation. Set to range in capacity from 1.2 to 1.8 litres, the new direct-injection petrol and common-rail diesel units will find their way into a wide range of compact Mercedes, Nissan, Renault and Smart models. In both Smarts, the engines will be mated to a dual-clutch gearbox.

As with the Fortwo, Smart is also planning to provide the new Forfour with hybrid and plug-in electric driveline options as part of a broader strategy aimed at lowering Mercedes’ overall fleet CO2 average to below 140g/km by the middle of the decade, in line with EU emissions regulations.

Greg Kable

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Comments
17

16 April 2010

I always had a soft-spot for the old forfour, especially with the 95bhp diesel is was a surprisingly decent car, expensive though.

16 April 2010

Me too i have for some reason always liked the forfour, never tried it though, but wouldnt mind.

16 April 2010

This seems totally wicked, both companies trying to save money but choosing the most expensive way to make a small car, using a platform, that can only be used for unconventional cars like the Smart, wow. I guess the engineers at Mercedes really got their way. I bet in return, Ghosn got Zetsche to agree to all those other sharing things, but it seems like only Mercedes will save money with this partnership, weird move from Ghosn.

16 April 2010

At least Renault will get a decently engineered small car at last.

16 April 2010

Have you driven a Smart? I would choose the Twingo anytime, the Smart has a lumpy ride, handles like crap, the engine noise is a real deal breaker, the brakes, what brakes? And the thing that really disturbs me the most about the Smart cars, they are not economical, they use just as much fuel as any other four seat small car. So actually, the thing failed totally, the only advantage it has over other small cars is its size. But who really cares, in town I use a bike or public transportation, not a car, and for long trips I rather take any other car than a Smart.

16 April 2010

"I would choose the Twingo anytime, the Smart has a lumpy ride, handles like crap, the engine noise is a real deal breaker, the brakes, what brakes? And the thing that really disturbs me the most about the Smart cars, they are not economical, they use just as much fuel as any other four seat small car." VelSatis

I've driven a few Smart cars and I came to the opposite conclusion.

In your diatribe you omitted to mention the Smart's lightness and strength, the way ahead for modern cars. The driver also sits high, offering excellent down-road vision. In the iQ you sit low. Some will choose Toyota's iQ over the Smart because it has "four" seats. In reality it is a 2 plus 2 mainly because it is a foot wider and longer than a Smart. (So much for space saving cleverness on the outside.) And they will choose the iQ because they think it safer than a Smart even though the Smart passed all crash tests. Let's not forget the plastic panels on the Smart, perfect for city knocks and bumps, and easily replaced. The iQ is much heavier than a Smart, another misstep, and then again, the Toyota Aygo is just as small, has far better mileage, and is better value for money.

With the exception of a slightly jerky auto change, (not cured fully from the first version, surely cured in the next version) eradicated when using the paddles to shift gear, the Smart is a superb city car.

I can identify only two problems: consumer resistence, and potholes. Then again, we laughed at the original Mini for similar reasons. Even so, I look forward to an electric version that will leave my petrol SUV in the garage, used only for long-haul runs.

As for the Smart for Four: I never saw the point of it. I presumed, wrongly, the Smart company would concentrate on doing what no other car manufacturer was doing, producing affordable, clever, funky, city vehicles that were two or three-seat space and savers.

16 April 2010

On rereading you remarks, I guess you were comparing the Smart for Four with the Twingo - it seems we ended by agreeing to some extent. Neverthless, I would still choose a Smart over a Renault ... any day.

16 April 2010

As the current owner of 2 x current Clio`s and a former owner of a Fortwo I think Renault/Smart fit together very well.

As big a fan as I am of Renault cars the current Twingo is a real apology of a car, it has nothing like the style or foresight of the original and even Renault UK don`t appear to be sure on how to position it in the market, giving cheaper deals on the supposedly more expensive Clio. Its only reason to exist is to provide the basis for the apparently sublime Renaultsport model.

The original Fortwo on the other hand was a brilliantly forward looking model, intelligently improved into a second generation model. Great for town work and suprisingly able out on the dual carriagways. Sure it has limitations but they have style like no other.

Renault have a great history of small car production and Smart are truly radical. A perfect fit

16 April 2010

looks a nifty little thing this! has reflections of the old forfour at the front i just hope its finished off better and has a better gearbox

16 April 2010

The original for four failed because it was dropped into an already established full market and the sales for the "new kid on the block" didn't materialise. Smart lost ground in developing the for four, the roadster and the aborted mini SUV while not concentrating on the unique for two range. The for two supported the original ethos of the brand while the other designs do not. If they would only stick with what they do best and build that market we might already be driving EV versions instead of having endless test programs.

insight

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