Newly revealed 2016 Smart Fortwo upgrades tech and specs, stays small

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The new Fortwo features larger features, but retains its small stature. Daimler AG

The new Fortwo debuts with a new design that features a bolder front end with larger headlamps. The Fortwo also grows slightly in width with a 100mm (about 4 inches) wider track, but still retains the short wheelbase and 2.69m (106.1 inches) overall length.

In addition to the microcar's trademark Tridion safety cell, the ultra-high strength steel frame that protects passengers in the event of a crash, the new 2016 Fortwo and its four-door sibling, the Forfour, feature a few new active and passive safety features to go along with new cabin and engine tech.

Crosswind assist and new safety tech

One of the Fortwo's most unique active safety features is the new, standard Crosswind Assist. At speeds above 80 kph (about 50 mph) this system detects when the lightweight coupe is being pushed around by strong gusts of wind over bridges or large trucks passing. When drift is detected, the system intervenes with braking intervention to help yaw the vehicle back on course.

In addition to the standard Crosswind system, the Fortwo can also be had with an optional forward-collision warning system that alerts the driver (but doesn't intervene) when the closing speed with the leading car is high enough to indicate an imminent collision and an optional Lane Keeping Assist that uses a camera to detect the vehicle's position between the lane lines and alerts the driver when drifting out of the lane without signaling.

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The new Fortwo is available in over 40 color combinations, and the interior can be just as colorful. Daimler AG

Touchscreen interface and smartphone integration

In the cabin, the Fortwo's simplistic dashboard steps into the 21st century with available touchscreen navigation, smartphone integration, and an optional 240-watt, eight-speaker JBL premium audio system.

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In addition to the touchscreen navigation, the Fortwo driver can simply use their smartphone or tablet with the Smart Cross Connect app. Daimler AG

Additionally, the Smart can interface with the new Smart Cross Connect app that enables connected infotainment and telematics features, such as Smart Parking, to the Fortwo driver in and outside of the car. By outsourcing the connected elements of the Fortwo's infotainment to an app on your connected smartphone, Smart gains the ability to tweak and add features over the lifetime of the vehicle with software updates.

Two new engine options, two new transmissions

The Fortwo's new chassis was developed in partnership with French automaker Renault and retains its rear-engine, rear-wheel driver architecture, which helps it to retain its compactness and maneuverability.

Beneath the rear hatch, you'll find the 2016 Fortwo will be available with one of two new 3-cylinder images. The launch engine is a 1-liter 3-banger that outputs 71 horsepower and 67 pound-feet of torque. That doesn't sound like a lot, but this is a little car designed for, primarily, low-speed city driving, so it may not be too bad. Smart states that the engine has been designed to deliver maximum torque pretty low in tachometer's range, making it a more driver-friendly engine than the outgoing 70 horsepower mill.

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The rear-engined, rear-driven Fortwo gets two new engines, but I'm most excited about the new dual-clutch gearbox option. Daimler AG

Joining the naturally aspirated engine at launch is a sub-liter (898 cc) turbocharged 3-cylinder option that outputs 90 horsepower and 100 pound-feet of torque. Post launch, these engines will be joined by a 60 horsepower basic model in certain global markets.

Perhaps the best news is that the current Fortwo's single-clutch automatic transmission is being replaced by a twinamic six-speed dual-clutch transmission with a five-speed manual gearbox available. Almost universally panned by journalists and evaluators, I'm extremely happy to see the old transmission go and am pretty excited about testing the new setup.

Fuel economy and performance numbers for these configurations hasn't been announced, but you can expect both measures to improve over the current generation.

More agile, more comfortable

There are also changes to the suspension and chassis underpinning the Fortwo. One of the compact's greatest selling points has been its small car maneuverability and easy parkability. These aspects have been improved for the next-generation.

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The Smart is 100 mm wider than before, but it now has the smallest turning circle yet. Daimler AG

The Fortwo now boasts what Smart calls "the smallest turning circle of any car." Thanks to short overhangs, minimal length, and a revised high steering angle, the compact can flip a U-turn between curbs that are just 6.95m (about 22.8 feet) apart and walls that are just 7.30 m (24 feet) apart. For comparison, the typical US two-lane road is about 7.3 m wide, so the Fortwo should be able to pull a 180 without bothering with a 3-point turn.

The compact features a new McPherson suspension up front that features increased overall spring travel with better control than the current vehicle and a "De-Dion" rear axle that has been modified for comfort. Additionally, the Fortwo will also feature electrically assisted power steering.

The new Fortwo should be a more comfortable cruiser than it is now. Those looking for a sportier character will have access to an optional Sports suspension package that is firmer and sets the ride height 10mm lower.

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The Fortwo is joined by the longer Forfour. Daimler AG

The four-door Forfour

The Fortwo will be joined by a second model for the 2016 model year, the new Smart Forfour. Essentially, the Forfour will be identical to the Fortwo with the same suspension and chassis upgrades, the same cabin and safety tech options, and the same selection of 3-cylinder engines, but with two more doors, two more seats, and four more speakers in its optional JBL premium audio system (bringing that total to 12).

Measuring 3.49 meters in length (137.4 inches) the Forfour is longer than the two-door and features a longer wheelbase. As a result, its turning-circle is just a bit wider, now 8.65m curb-to-curb. It's also likely a bit heavier, which should affect its performance and economy in comparison to the the Fortwo.

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Aside from the length, the ForFour is identical to the coupe. Daimler AG

Global pricing and availability for the new Smart Fortwo and Forfour haven't been announced yet, but we can expect at least the coupe to arrive in North America sometime in 2015 as a 2016 model.

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2016 Smart Fortwo

Part Number: CNET2016 Smart Fortwo
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