I'm not sure what to think about the "Renault pulls out" statement since we've known that Renault decided to only pursue the forfour/Twingo venture for a while now. So, that's nothing really newsworthy. However, the detail of the specifications is interesting.
Smart Fortwo (2014): Renault pull out, Daimler goes alone
It might have been love at first sight, but in the course of 2012 the relationship between Daimler and Renault/Nissan went through plenty of troubled water. Consider for instance the third-generation Smart Fortwo, which no longer features a Renault-badged twin.
Having spent a small fortune on new electric car projects like Twizy and Zoe (not to mention Fluence ZE and Kangoo ZE), the French pulled out of the Fortwo programme to save money and manpower. As a result, the Germans must go this one alone, which ain't easy since Project Edison is overweight and over budget.
In the course of the model changeover due in early 2014, the microcar's CO2 footprint actually increases from 86 to 99g/km. How come? Because the diesel variant bites the dust. It will be replaced by a normally aspirated 65bhp 0.9-litre three-cylinder petrol unit which is of course less economical.
Also on the way out is the Smart's jumping sequential transmission. Instead, you get a manual six-speeder. Those who prefer to give the left hoof a rest must spend about €2000 on the new seven-speed twin-clutch gearbox. The other two available engines are turbocharged threes rated at 85 and 105bhp.
The new Fortwo is not exactly an aestethic improvement over the current car. Although it retains the contrasting Tridion safety cell and the optional two-tone paint, the design looks frumpy and contrived according to those who've seen the finished styling bucks.
While the overall length increases by only 30mm to 2730mm [1.2 inch increase], the width goes up from 1750 to 1870mm [4.7 inch increase]. This move may improve the directional stability, but it is counter-productive in tight urban driving and parking conditions. Perhaps copying the proportions of the unsuccessful Toyota iQ was not such a good idea after all.
Like the exterior, the funky and functional cabin has also been redesigned from scratch. Worth a closer look are the eight-button steering-wheel, the air-con panel operated by practical slide controls, and the removable in-dash tablet which mixes mini iPad, smartphone and sat-nav elements.
Still there and almost unchanged are the four round air vents and the trademark rev-counter at the foot of the driver-side A-post.
Only three months after the coupé, Smart will launch the Fortwo Cabriolet and the e-smart powered by a 88bhp Bosch motor fed by a battery stack supplied by Accumotive.