Smart’s new 4x4, the Formore, has been caught testing near Smart’s HQ in Stuttgart, along with the next Fortwo city car. And while it’s certain that the Fortwo will go into production, the new 4x4’s future is looking unsure.
Smart has put the introduction of its new flagship model on hold at the request of parent company Mercedes-Benz boss Eckhard Cordes. The new Toyota RAV4 rival was planned to go on sale in the UK late next year at around £17,000, but Smart is trying to reduce costs as part of a programme aimed at boosting profitability.
Despite being placed on hold, the engineering programme for the Formore is continuing, as proved by these exclusive photographs revealing the new junior off-roader. Mercedes’ C-class provides the basic platform, complete with 4matic 4x4 system. A future Mercedes version, probably called the X-class, is expected to share the chassis. Although the car was originally touted as Smart’s route into America – the company has issued sketches of the Formore and said it will be launched in 2006 – the brand could enter the US market even without its top model. At the recent Detroit show, the entire model range of Fortwo, Coupé, Roadster-Coupé and Forfour were present in what bosses claimed was the brand’s ‘biggest ever customer clinic.’ If response is good, launching the current range is a possibility.
That launch could coincide with the second-generation Fortwo’s arrival. The new car, pictured here for the first time testing under heavy disguise, sticks with the rear-engine layout of today’s model.
Among the myriad changes incorporated on the second-generation model is new exterior styling, a reworked interior, a revised rear-wheel-drive platform, more powerful petrol and diesel engines (the latter is not available in the UK) and new suspension and steering, aimed at finally laying to rest the Fortwo’s questionable handling and lumpy ride.