Smart's tiny Fortwo microcar gets redesign for 2016

Microcar builder Smart unveils all-new Fortwo for 2016

One of the world’s smallest cars got a big update this week, with Smart revealing the 2016 Fortwo.

The all-new model is the first major redesign of Smart’s tiny car since it began scooting around the United States in early 2008. The new model goes on sale in Europe this fall, and it will come to the U.S. a year later.

"No one combines functionality and emotionality as well as we do," said Smart CEO Annette Winkler. "Our idea based on a total rethink of urban mobility has won through."

Smart -- which is a sister company to Mercedes-Benz -- developed the car with Renault. Though only the two-door version will come to the U.S., a new ForFour model with yes -- four doors -- will also be available abroad.

The current U.S. version has remained relatively popular in the microcar segment, despite newer competitors. Last year Smart sold about 9,200 cars in the U.S., more than double the number of tiny Scion iQs that sold. Chevy’s Spark remained the clear winner with just over 34,000 in sales.

The layout remains rear-engine and rear-wheel-drive. A turbocharged, three-cylinder engine makes 90 horsepower and will be bolted to either a five-speed manual transmission or a six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. Start/stop has been added to boost efficiency.

The wheelbase and length of the Smart remains largely the same, though it gets about 4 inches wider. Cargo room grows by around 1.4 cubic feet. There’s more high-strength steel in the structure of the new model, and optional safety systems include forward collision warning and lane-keeping assist.

Smart also gave the Fortwo a thorough redesign to make it look more like an actual car and less like a runaway amusement park ride. The car now has softer lines and more traditional car proportions for the front and rear.

Pricing will be announced closer to the new Smart’s debut next year. It will likely stay close to the current model’s $14,000 base price.

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