Americans and Canadians had to pour one out for microcar brand Smart earlier this year. Daimler officially announced after a decade that the pint-size cars would leave the market. But, at home in Europe, the Smart car lives on.
On Thursday, Smart debuted the next-generation EQ Fortwo and EQ Forfour models. Following up on Smart’s promise to end internal-combustion engines, these two cars are totally electric and give us a look at what North Americans will miss out on — even though Smart has sold under 100 cars per month in the US through the majority of this year so far in the US.
The EQ Fortwo is the closest to what Americans will remember as the Smart car. The smiling face remains, though it’s been chiseled in a new fashion with fancier LED lights and a body-color grille. The Smart emblem is gone, too, in favor of spelled-out badging. From the rear, this is still very much a Smart, but the fancy taillight treatment does spice things up a bit. It’s hard for me to fall in love with the Fortwo‘s proportions, however. You either love it or hate it, but at least the car owns it.
The interior moves more digital than ever with an 8-inch touchscreen in the center of the console. Not only does it provide the connective neurocenter for the car, it works seamlessly with a driver’s smartphone. The user interface automatically mirrors the paired smartphone, and whenever a software upgrade is ready for the owner’s phone, it translates to the Smart’s infotainment. Ditto for if the owner switches from Apple iOS to Android.
Elsewhere, the interior makes room for new storage places such as a compartment in front of the gear selector. There’s also room for two coffee cups thanks to a removable cup holder. Those are big things when we’re talking about a car as small as the Smart. The Fortwo will remain available as a convertible as well.
The model Americans certainly won’t recall, the Forfour, is Smart’s take on the more traditional sedan. For the first time, the Fortwo and Forfour don’t share a corporate face either. Instead of the perky face found on the Fortwo, the Forfour gets a somewhat more aggressive face with a different lower grille and headlights angled in a different fashion. I’ll simply say the Fortwo is the looker of the two.
No matter which model, a 17.6 kilowatt-hour battery provides juice for an electric motor mounted in the rear. Power won’t blow the doors off, but should scoot the tiny cars around well with 82 horsepower and 118 pound-feet of torque. Converting kilometers to miles and rounding up gives the Fortwo and Forfour both a range of 99 miles on a full charge. Certainly, that’s low, but far better than the final EV Smart sells in the US: the Smart Fortwo Electric Drive EV with 57 miles of range. The 99-mile figure is also estimated based on the liberal NEDC testing procedure, not Europe’s latest WLTP standard.
With the optional fast charger, Smart said owners will be able to juice the battery from 10% to 80% in under 40 minutes. With a standard European 230-volt outlet, the cars will add the “average daily driving distance” amount of charge in 3.5 hours, however.
If you’re in love, book a ticket to see the latest Smarts at the Frankfurt Auto Show next week. If the love affair persists, you’ll need to stay on the Continent to own one because there’s no chance of seeing them stateside.
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