First Look: 2008 smart fortwo
We brought you the news back in June (click here) that there is a tiny city car making its way to the U.S. market. In early 2008 U.S. buyers will finally be able to opt for this small and economical package. AutoPacific and VehicleVoice have some of the first pictures of the model, and here they are. Though we won’t get the car until early 2008, European buyers can pick one up beginning in April 2007. At the smart USA website, you can keep current on the events smart has hosted to familiarize us with the car or sign up for monthly newsletters about the car.
How small is small?
The new smart is only 106.1 inches long, with a wheelbase of 73.5 inches. It is 61.4 inches wide, and a relatively tall package at 60.7 inches. Just to put this in perspective, smart is nearly 64 inches shorter than Chevrolet’s smallest offering, the Aveo. The 2008MY MINI is nearly 40 inches longer, the Mazda MX-5 about 51 inches longer, and even the Toyota Yaris hatchback is almost 44 inches longer. The smart could find itself an instant favorite among some circles. It has a unique personality, with its small size it fits anywhere, it is light, and it offers very economical powertrains. Wanna feel like you’re helping the world and create your own parking spot on Rodeo Drive? Buy a smart.
Like MINI, smart Keeps Its Charm
Compared with the fortwo (see here) that has been available in Europe in various versions since 1999, this new generation keeps a similar look. Like the MINI that BMW has revived, the smart has become a bit of a cult classic, so keeping the flavor of the first is a good move for this small car. Though the new car is bigger, parking feats like the one pictured above and those we wrote about in August 2006 (click here) will still be possible.
Optimized for U.S. Safety Standards
Don’t let the outside fool you; there are significant changes throughout and it has grown slightly. The prior model did not meet some U.S. requirements, and this one was designed with us in mind as well as international city-car needs.
The smart starts with a tridion safety cell surrounded by plastic body panels. This time, doors are steel for U.S. crash safety. The tridion safety cell, reinforced with metal in key areas, protects passengers like a hard shell. Head and thorax side airbags will be available, though ESP with ABS and electronic brake force distribution will be standard along with front airbags.
International markets choose between two three-cylinder engines, though the gasoline-fed unit is available in three versions. U.S. motive power has not been announced, but you can expect at least the 84HP turbocharged 1.0L 12v three-cylinder. Normally aspirated, that engine is offered in 61HP and 71HP versions, along with a 45HP 800cc diesel, in Europe. The transmission is a Getrag five-speed automated manual, with an electrically operated clutch. Shifting is done by lever, with steering-wheel-mounted paddles available.
Exterior styling gets a somewhat more aggressive look. smart describes it as more masculine, perhaps trying to get away from the more “cute” association of the first generation. Inside, the curved instrument panel has been dropped in favor of a traditional straight layout, another change in response to U.S. crash regulations.
Though the U.S. lineup may be different, in Europe smart launches with three trim levels. The pure is the base car, the pulse the sporty one, and the passion just gets everything. While the coupe pulse and passion get a panoramic roof, the cabrio gets an electric soft top that is fully automatic and infinitely adjustable, even at driving speeds, as well as getting a heated glass rear window. The roof bars can also be stowed in a tailgate compartment.
fortwo’s European standard equipment list includes remote locking, exterior temperature indicator, turn signals with a lane-change feature, and speed-sensitive interval wipers. Options include air conditioning, power heated outside mirrors, leather and heated seats, the ISOFIX child seat fasteners, uplevel stereo, and a portable navigation system.