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Smart tweaks ForTwo micro

Small improvements: Benz's baby Smart ForTwo will go to Paris with a new outfit.

Smart ForTwo comes in midlife makeover as work continues on new shared platform

8 Jul 2010

DAIMLER has announced an upgrade for its Smart ForTwo Coupe and Cabrio ahead of their debut at the Paris motor show in September and expected Australian release late this year.

While the German manufacturer continues to work with Renault on an all-new shared micro-car platform – with the first models from this partnership due to hit the streets in 2012/13 – the midlife makeover for the second-generation 451-series ForTwo introduces a host of minor improvements as competition intensifies from both traditional and left-field rivals in the ultra-compact car segment.

Included among the changes are new exterior colours, cabin enhancements and tweaks to the Mitsubishi-sourced 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine – in both naturally aspirated micro hybrid drive (MHD) and turbocharged form – that improve the rear-engine/rear-drive ForTwo’s environmental credentials.

According to Mercedes, “detailed work on the engine control unit and exhaust system” of the 52kW/92Nm MHD unit results in fuel consumption fall from 4.4L/100km to 4.2 on the combined cycle, while CO2 emissions drop below 100g/km – from 105 to 97 grams.

The 62kW/120Nm turbocharged triple also benefits from ECU and exhaust work, with its CO2 output falling 2g/km to 114. Its fuel consumption remains at 4.9L/100km.

37 center imageThe higher-performance Brabus version also gains a power increase to 75kW (up 3kW), with no penalties on the eco front as a result, although this model is currently unavailable in Australia.

Buyers will, however, have the ability with the general upgrade to order features previously restricted to the Brabus, such as daytime running lights. Three new 15-inch alloy wheel designs will also be introduced.

Other changes, which are designed to give the ForTwo “a completely new face”, include a new matt light green colour option and fresh opportunities for custom paintwork such as a body-coloured front spoiler, side skirts and rear apron.

The steel ‘safety cell’ can also now be ordered in white, with matching grille and door mirror surrounds.

Inside, the two-seater ForTwo cabin has a redesigned fabric-covered instrument panel, new trim colours, revised instrument cluster (with contrasting dark central disc), reworked dashboard switchgear, a three-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel (with optional multi-function controls for the trip computer and cruise control) and new optional ambient lighting with dimmable LEDs.

More practical changes include a new optional large storage box for the lower section of the centre console, a paperclip device for holding notes etc in the glovebox, and pockets on the sides of the seats. The tailgate can also now be opened using one hand.

Equipment changes still to be confirmed for Australia include a new premium stereo with large 16.5cm display, integrated satellite-navigation system, Bluetooth connectivity, a USB/AUX port for external devices and an interface for controlling an iPod.

Rounding out the changes is a new optional surround-sound system which includes a multi-channel digital amplifier with a power output of 8x40 Watts.

Daimler has sold more than 1.2 million Smart ForTwos since the first model was launched in 1998. It is sold in 43 countries on five continents, and will soon be launched in Argentina and Indonesia.

The model remains a niche player in Australia, with the latest VFACTS figures showing that 221 cars were sold in the first six months this year (up 48.3 per cent on the first half of 2009).

A diesel engine variant of the ForTwo remains off the agenda for sale here, and a plug-in electric model now in service overseas is yet to be confirmed for Australia. The latter is, however, expected to be sold here in limited numbers, after Daimler chairman Dieter Zetsche confirmed to Australian journalists that it should eventually become available in this market.

Global Smart managing director Marc Langenbrinck said this week that the company “continues to work hard to make our Smart models even better and more desirable in every respect”.

“The (upgraded) Smart ForTwo is perfect for our times,” he said. “It is attractive and has style. It also boasts high quality materials, visible attention to detail, even more comfort and enhanced functionality.

“And don’t forget that Smart drivers often have an unconventional way of thinking and look for alternatives. The ... wide range of engines and opportunities for customisation meets their requirements.”

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