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Future models - Smart - ForTwo

December D-day for Smart in Australia

Looking Smart: The new-generation Smart range is said to be ‘more grown up’ but retains its tiny dimensions – just 2690mm from end to end in ForTwo guise.

Benz yet to decide on Smart future in Australia as new ForTwo and ForFour emerge

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Smart logo17 Jul 2014

MERCEDES-BENZ Australia must decide by the end of the year if it will continue to offer the Smart brand in Australia and adopt the new-generation ForTwo and ForFour city cars unveiled this week in Germany.

Although the redesigned Smart range will hit the streets of Europe in November, the Australian importer says it is still mulling the business case for the new models which, if they get the green light, would still be about 12 months away.

Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific senior manager for public relations, product and corporate communications David McCarthy said the company was keen to offer the new generation of Smart cars in Australia, but a lot would depend on price and “whether we can make the business case work”.

“We have to make a decision by the end of the year,” he said.

A decision not to import the new models would end the 11-year Smart presence in this market, where the niche urban runabout has struggled to make an impact through two generations.

This year, Smart has sold just 38 cars in the six months to June 30. This is a decline of 49 per cent over the same period last year.

Currently, Smart dealers offer only the two-seat ForTwo in $18,990 coupe and $20,990 cabrio forms, but Mr McCarthy said four-seat ForFour in the Smart range would also come to Australia should it get the go-ahead.

He said that in Europe the current all-electric version known as the ED (electric drive) would continue in showrooms until a new model, under development in Germany, was ready for launch.

The new Smart range is described by its maker as “more grown up”, despite retaining its diminutive dimensions – just 2.69 metres long in ForTwo guise.

Both models are said to be safer than before, although European reports say Mercedes-Benz crash safety engineers expect the new generation to score only a four-star safety rating from the European New Car Assessment Program.

The company says it focused on car-to-car crash tests in the Smart’s development, even with much larger S-Class Mercedes models.

To share its platform with Renault’s Twingo, the new Smart has a choice of rear-mounted three-cylinder petrol engines – a normally aspirated 1.0-litre engine producing 45kW or 52kW, and a 900cc turbo pushing out 66kW.

Mr McCarthy said the 45kW version was unlikely for Australia, while the other two options were on the wish list for this market where the current model offers 52kW and 92Nm from its 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine.

The new turbocharged engine, boasting 135Nm of torque at 2500rpm, has an electronically controlled turbo waste-gate and automatic engine idle-stop.

A new five-speed manual gearbox and six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission will be offered with these engines.

Smart says the new ForTwo sets a new turning circle benchmark, at 6.95 metres kerb to kerb.

The front suspension design is said to have been adopted from the previous C-Class, with the rear end a De Dion design with increased spring travel.

The new range will come with three equipment lines – Passion, Prime and Proxy. The base model gets LED daytime running lights, remote central locking, cruise control, trip computer and front electric windows.

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