Smart Plans Baby Crossover For 2018
In the early days of the crossover craze, Smart built a prototype and said it was considering the game. Nothing came of that, but Mercedes has confirmed that it’s a serious consideration once again. Speaking with Auto Express at the Shanghai Auto Show, Mercedes-Benz Cars chairman Dieter Zetsche suggested that a four-door crossover-type vehicle could be in the works for Smart in the next two or three years. He confirmed that there are plans to expand Smart’s offerings, and said that, "...the SUV segment would definitely be one to go into."
Smart’s plan is facilitated by the new ForTwo and European-market ForFour, which ride on a chassis that was developed jointly with Renault and is also shared with the new Twingo. In addition to providing an existing larger platform for a lifted smart, analysts also say that the line at Renault’s Novo Mesto plant, where the Twingo and ForFour are built, has plenty of unused capacity.
The previous crossover, based on a concept called the ForMore in 2005, was scuttled due to the financial downturn, which hit Smart hard. But things are looking rosy once again, and perhaps the time is right for a broader range of Smarts stateside.
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Why it matters
It’s a good time for Smart to expand its lineup. The all-new third-generation ForTwo is just about to hit the streets with more power, a more stable, wide-track chassis and more conventional transmission options in place of the strange-feeling semi-automatic. The premium-compact market has exploded as well. Consumers are taking small, fuel-efficient cars seriously, and though the ForTwo thus far hasn’t moved much beyond novelty status, the brand name is well-known. The time could be right for additional Smart products. It’s certainly worked for Mini, and Fiat is headed in the same direction with the upcoming 500X.
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