New Smart Cars
smart is a German company that gained international fame for producing uniquely-styled, highly-efficient microcars.
In the late 1980s, SMH (makers of the Swatch brand of watches) CEO Nicolas Hayek began working on an idea for a new urban car. He approached several automakers and reached an agreement with Volkswagen in 1991.
By 1993, Ferdinand Piëch immediately sought to terminate the ''Swatchmobile'' project since VW had already been developing their own three-litre car (3L/100km): the Lupo.
Hayek had suspected that Piëch would seek to end the agreement with SMH, so he discreetly began approaching other car companies. Rebuffed by BMW, Fiat, General Motors and Renault, he finally sealed a deal with Daimler-Benz (owner of Mercedes-Benz Cars) in 1994. The press conference also featured the debut of two concept cars: the eco-sprinter and eco-speedster.
The assembly plant of the smart city coupé – the brand's first production model – opened in late October 1997, with deliveries planned for March 1998. However, dynamic instability of the prototypes prompted Daimler-Benz to delay the launch until October 1998.
For two years, the city coupé was the lone model in the lineup. A convertible variant called city cabrio appeared on the market at the turn of the century. Both cars received cosmetic upgrades in 2002 before being renamed fortwo and fortwo cabrio in 2004.
The second generation made its debut three years later and continues to grace showrooms to this day. While relatively new to the game, smart did come up with a couple of special cars as well, including the roadster (2003-2005), forfour (2004-2006) and crossblade (2002).
The 2016 smart fortwo is far more refined than ever and still retains the title of best city car of all.
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The next-generation 2016 smart fortwo is making its U.S. debut this week at the 2015 New York Auto Show. Already on sale in Europe, it will launch on this side of the Atlantic in September.
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