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Smart Fortwo shifts to a new generation

Smart addresses one of its biggest knocks with new dual-clutch transmission

Published: January 18, 2015, 5:00 AM
Updated: April 28, 2018, 9:57 PM

2016 Smart Fortwo

One of the knocks against the Smart city coupe car has always been its transmission. Smart is hoping to get that topic off the table as the car heads into a new generation.

The car has evolved into a ... erm ... smart looking little guy, though it’s still powered by a three-cylinder rear-mounted engine that hasn’t quite reached the 100-hp level.

However, making the link between engine and the rear drive wheels is a new twinamic dual clutch six-speed transmission — a first in the micro-car market.

Like its predecessor, the driver can sequentially shift gears but now has the option of doing it via steering wheel paddles. The transmission can also do all the shifting by itself, with the driver able to switch modes of operation by shifting the lever between gates.

A release states there will be no interruption in tractive power between gear shifts, something which was notably not the case in the previous two generations. Electronic control also allows the transmission to skip gears on upshifts or downshifts for even smoother operation.

The transmission is available as an option in the German domestic market at a cost of 1275 Euros (roughly $1,765 Canadian). It is expected to be available in spring 2015. No word yet on whether it will also be available on the new Smart when it arrives in Canada in fall 2015 as a 2016 model.

The new generation is distinguished by a new profile that features a front box where a front engine would be housed. The rear mounted engine continues to be smaller than a litre in displacement and is expected to again deliver economy in the 4.0 litres per 100 km range. Acceleration is again expected to be “leisurely” and handling “understandable.”

On the subject of the latter, though, the car does get a new MacPherson strut front suspension and an optimized de Dion rear setup. To counter the effect of side winds on the car’s bubble shape, there is a crosswind assist system available (as well as lane-keep assist and collision mitigation).

Smart is touting the biggest upgrades to interior comfort, though the car is no bigger than the current model. Of not is a new premium sound system with the space behind the seats housing a subwoofer that can be removed to increase cargo space.