Facelift for the ForTwo
Change is coming for Benz’s baby brand Smart, writes Paul Gover
THE baby brand in the Benz stable is being set for a rebirth. There will be two cars for two continents. but only one is likely to make it to Australia.
‘‘There is a tie-up with Nissan to build a car for the USA and another with Renault for Europe,’’ Mercedes-Benz Australia spokesman David McCarthy says.
He is short on detail because the future models are still on the secret list, but admits there are rumours that the American car will be a four-seater twinned with the new Nissan Micra, while the European model will share with the next Renault Twingo.
‘‘We really have nothing to say yet,’’ says McCarthy.
But it’s unlikely that Smart will ever grow to the multi-car line-up originally planned for the brand.
At one time there were ForTwo, ForFour and Roadster models in showrooms, with a compact SUV also in the planning. Prices were too high and sales were too low – though the Brabus ForFour which sold at $40,000 still brings $30,000 for secondhand sales – to sustain a stand-alone brand.
Instead, Benz cut the Smart line right back to the ForTwo and decided it would be used as an entry to the Mercedes-Benz line-up. It would also be a way of spreading development costs and bringing an emissions credit from the baby cars to benefit the whole Daimler line-up.
While the ForTwo is certain for Australia there is also the possibility of electric scooters under the Smart brand, following a two-wheeled preview at the Paris Motor Show last month.
‘‘It gives a clue. We’ve got to find someone to build it,’’ McCarthy says.
While the future cars are some way away, the existing Smart ForTwo is heading for a major makeover, including smoother bodywork and daytime running lamps.
It will arrive in Australia early next year following a preview last month in Germany.
‘‘We will have the ForTwo in the first quarter. It should be February,’’ says McCarthy.
But, as Smart is being renewed, MercedesBenz has axed the baby A-Class in Australia.
‘‘It’s no longer part of the catalogue. But there will be another A-Class and it will return,’’ McCarthy says. ‘‘We decided to concentrate on the B-Class and our decision has been vindicated by the sales.
‘‘Last month it led its class in the small segment, with 237 sales against the Audi A3 at 137, and we’ve outsold the Mini and 1 BMW Series year to date. B-class sales are significantly higher today than A and B were together.’’
Makeover: the existing Smart ForTwo is getting a new look, including smoother bodywork and daytime running lamps.