The Seriously Small Smart Gets a Bit More Serious
The 2016 Smart Fortwo has matured into a more serious contender in the microcar segment. It hasn’t lost its quirky and funky looks, but the Fortwo now sports improvements where it counts, including revised powertrains, new premium features, and a stronger body structure.
As before, the Fortwo’s source of propulsion is found out back, behind the passenger seats. We’ll have to wait a bit to find out what engine(s) are headed to the U.S. as Smart has only released details for the Euro-spec model. That said, the 2016 Fortwo will launch in Europe with two engines, with a third coming at a later date. The first is a 1.0-liter inline-three rated 71 hp and 67 lb-ft of torque. Also offered will be a new 0.9-liter turbocharged I-3 that makes 90 hp and 100 lb-ft. The third engine will make 60 hp. While not announced yet, an all-electric powertrain should also be in the works.
Better yet is the addition of a new six-speed dual clutch automatic that should perform much better than the much-maligned outgoing five-speed automated manual gearbox. Also available will be a five-speed manual transmission, though it’s unknown if it’ll make it to our shores.
Smart points out that the 2016 Fortwo will ride on a new and sophisticated suspension, with some components cribbed from the previous generation Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Up front is a new McPherson setup, while a De Dion rear axle features twin-tube shock absorbers. An optional sports suspension provides stiffer springs and a lower ride height.
Smart has increased the 2016 Fortwo’s dimensions in key areas. Wheelbase, for example, increases from 73.5 to 73.7 inches while overall width jumps 4 inches to 65.4 inches, which should provide more hip and shoulder space (those numbers have yet to be released). Overall length shrinks a bit to 105.9 inches, just 0.2 inches less than the outgoing model. Perhaps most impressive is the improved turning radius, which shrinks from 28.7 feet to a nice and tidy 22.8 feet.
Part of what gives the 2016 Smart Fortwo its more mature looks is its evolution from a one-box to what Smart calls a “one-and-a-half-box” design. That’s apparent thanks to the Fortwo’s distinct hood. The wheels are still pushed out to the corners and the rear track is still a bit wider than the front, which helps maintain the Fortwo’s sturdy-looking stance.
Speaking of sturdy, Smart has improved the Fortwo’s tridion safety cell, which is still painted a contrasting color to add visual pop to the coupe’s exterior. Smart says the crash-absorbing cell now contains more ultra-high-strength steel, along with multiphase steel. Additionally, the cell’s structure that runs along the C-pillar is now thicker. Smart says the 2016 Fortwo has endured rigorous crash tests, including numerous front collisions with C- and S-Class sedans. The automaker also says the Fortwo went through the same safety development program as the new C-Class.
Safety upgrades continue with new advanced technology. Crosswind Assist is standard, as are a wide array of airbags including a driver knee bag. A forward collision warning system and Lane Keeping Assist are optional.
Inside, the 2016 Fortwo boasts improved materials, design, and features. The dashboard, for example, is highlighted by a number of infotainment options including smartphone integration, navigation, a touchscreen, and a premium JBL sound system. The interior features accents finished in a honeycomb pattern, which is also used for exterior elements including the grille. The dashboard and door panels are available with a mesh-like fabric, and the three-spoke steering wheel can be optioned with multimedia buttons. Taking a page from recent Benz models like the C- and S-Class, the Fortwo features instrument and infotainment panels that appear to float in front of the dashboard. Oversized round air vents and bright color schemes, however, ensure that the Fortwo maintains its funky look.
The 2016 Fortwo goes on sale in Europe this November. U.S. customers will have to wait almost a year for the new city car to arrive in showrooms. Smart says the Euro-spec Fortwo will start at just under $15,000, which is right in line with the base price of 2014 Smart Fortwo coupe ($14,020).