Currently reading: Smart's radical four-seat future
New Fourfour will be twinned with Renault Twingo; electric, petrol and diesel options; rear-drive

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.

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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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Mr_H 18 April 2010

Re: Smart's radical four-seat future

TStag wrote:
It makes sense to make a mini MINI
A Mini MINI - now that's an idea.......except that Austin Rover designed a Mini Mini, which was rejected by BMW. Startlingly close to the Smart concept in my opinion.....see link below:-

TStag 18 April 2010

Re: Smart's radical four-seat future

I wouldn't mind betting that MINI will park a MINI for 2 firmly in Smart territory. It makes sense to make a mini MINI. If that happens then Smart better start praying for it's survival. A Smart for 4 may need to happen but somehow they need to find a unique selling point....

Mr_H 17 April 2010

Re: Smart's radical four-seat future

I always liked the ForFour - it was a refreshingly different car, as is the ForTwo, which, had the prices for 2nd hand ones been a little more affordable, I would have bought for my work driving around Coventry visiting clients. However, if I remember rightly, the reviews for the ForFour criticised it's pedestrian performance, poor ride and unrefined engine, and generally placed it way behind the more established competition - a shame, because the car genuinely had something going for it. I think the fault may have been with using Mitsubishi oily bits which, (rally cars excepted) were never the last word in fun. To compete with the might of the Fiat 500 and the ubiquitous MINI, Smart need to produce a clever car which has the same amount of verve and cheekiness as these 2 (sorry 1, the MINI lost its charm a while ago, at the first facelift).....and be cost competitive, remembering that it is attracting a different type of buyer, who may be less fashion conscious, and who would normally consider a Twingo, Ka, Micra, Yaris etc. I'd like to see the ForFour succeed, simply because I like the Smart concept (although would have liked the Swatch tie-up to remain), and think it shows an alternative way forward to the current trend for retro small cars.......