Presented at the last Bologna Motor Show, the new generation two-seater Smart has been completely renewed, although all the iconic features that have made it so distinctive have been retained. “When the management handed us the project, they asked us to make as much of an evolutionary change as possible without destroying the car’s recognisability”, says design supremo Hartmut Sinkwitz, describing how his team started the first exploration work as early as 2002, although the guidelines for the project were only laid down in 2003, with the definitive design taking shape the following year.
Without drawing too much attention to the fact, the Smart II is significantly sturdier than before, so as to respect European pedestrian impact regulations and new American laws such as the high speed crash test, in view of the launch of the car there. But the most shocking news about the new Smart is that it has grown in length from two and a half metres to 2695 mm.
The generation changeover is even more evident in the interior, where a more austere approach has led to greater rationality without compromising the freshness of the design, which remains in a decidedly youthful key with trendy colours and materials.
The role of the new Smart, available in both closed top and Cabrio guise, is of even greater strategic importance now that it effectively represents the entire brand. This is an iconic car, a little like the Mini, with a single name to indicate both marque and model. “However, the Mini is a much more emotive car, whereas the Smart also appeals to practical sense. City, traffic, parking: there are many situations that have to be borne in mind”, concludes Sinkwitz.
The article continues in Auto & Design no. 162