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Mercedes-Benz  PhwoarFour: Brabus bite may add fangs to Aussie-bound ForFours.

PhwoarFour: Brabus bite may add fangs to Aussie-bound ForFours.

Brabus-tuned hatch draws near as Mercedes commits to Smart brand’s future

MERCEDES-BENZ will decide within three months whether to introduce a high-performance Brabus version of the Smart ForFour small hatchback.

If it goes ahead it hopes to secure 50 of the Brabus-tuned vehicles with pricing under $40,000, right in Volkswagen Golf GTI territory, according to spokesman Toni Andreevski.

With the cancellation of both the Roadster and the ForFour-based lifestyle off-roader, the case for the Brabus-tuned ForFour is strong.

Mercedes-Benz Car Group managing director, Horst von Sanden, also revealed last week that the company was currently gauging interest from dealers.

"I think it will be a very small niche," he told GoAuto. "So for us the question is: how many cars do we need to sell to make it a half-way profitable exercise, or at least break-even exercise.

"For the sake of customer service and offering what they want, we certainly are prepared to bring in the minimum volume needed to make it viable."

If Mercedes-Benz can secure 50 orders, it is highly likely the car will go on sale. A Brabus-tuned ForFour is expected to be on display at this year's Sydney motor show in October to gauge buyer interest.

Mr von Sanden also said that despite modest Smart sales – 271 vehicles were sold in the first five months of 2005 – DaimlerChrysler remained committed to the micro-car brand in Australia.

He said Smart was on track to reach its sales target of 600 cars this year but was surprised the Roadster had not found favour with buyers.

Mercedes-Benz center image "I really thought the Roadster would take off here," he said.

Mercedes-Benz has "a couple of hundred" Roadsters left which the company intends to sell right up until the end of the year.

Mr von Sanden said he would not discount the brand, adding that the recent realignment of ForTwo pricing to below $20,000 was "as keen as it can go".

He also indicated that if sales volumes for the ForTwo kept growing, there might be room for the turbo-diesel ForTwo in the line-up.

The ForTwo diesel reportedly consumes just 3.0 L/100km over the combined city/highway cycle.

Smart has 10 dealers nationally with only one, in Geelong, handing the franchise back.

According to Mercedes-Benz, the close proximity of the Geelong Smart dealership to Melbourne and low demand in the regional city had been considerations in the decision.






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