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Smart: the best concepts and special editions

Fri, 18 Jul 2014

By James Clark

Motoring Issues

18 July 2014 11:24

As Smart lifts the lid on the new ForTwo and ForFour this week, CAR magazine looks back on wonderful, wacky and downright woeful Smart special editions and concepts that have been created since the diminutive City Coupe first arrived on the scene in 1998.

The Crossblade was a 2002 special edition based on the cabrio version of the city car. Its Brabus-tuned motor put out 70bhp and the car weighed just 740kg. This wasn’t the cars most remarkable feature though. Nope, that was the fact that the Crossblade was devoid of a windscreen, roof, and conventional doors. A potentially cool idea in theory, but you’d still have a hard time explaining your decision to spend £16k on a car with several panels missing…

Not strictly a special edition, the Brabus was Smart’s first and last foray into the hot hatch market. It featured a 1.5-litre turbo engine pinched from the Mitsubishi Colt, would hit 60mph in under seven seconds and go onto a very respectable top speed of 137mph. It was definitely an interesting alternative to the usual hot hatch crowd and certainly provided plenty of punch - especially back in 2005 – but unfortunately it proved a little too quirky and the Brabus remains a rare sight on our roads.

It’s got a stupid name. It’s got stupid light-up wings on the back. That’s all you need to know. The less said about this 2013 monstrosity the better…

In 2003 Brabus bolted two three-cylinder engines together and plonked the resulting twin-turbo V6 into a Smart Roadster Coupe.  It produced a faintly alarming 215bhp – a healthy amount considering the car tipped the scales at only 820kg. This meant 0-60mph in under five seconds and a power-to-weight ratio that matched a 996 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S. Sadly the 10 examples built weren’t actually sold, and the car was never even road-legal in Germany.

A relatively recent creation, Smart’s peculiar looking and rather pointless 2013 FourJoy concept was designed to ‘dispense of unnecessary ballast’, like the roof. And doors. Smart also claimed that various parts of the car were ‘reminiscent of 1990s tennis caps’. Right then…

Who in their right mind would think that an electrically powered pick-up truck, the size of a Fiat 500 and with a cargo area of just 900mm would be a good idea? Well, evidently Smart did. Thankfully this creation was only a concept unveiled at the 2012 Detroit motor show.

The funky little Forspeed concept car was first shown to the public at the 2011 Geneva motor show. Its electric motor meant it was good for 75mph and an 84-mile range. Cleverly the Forspeed included solar cells that were built into the wind deflector.

Seeing a pattern here? Yep, it’s another Fortwo-based city-car with an electric motor, retina-burning colour combo and bonkers styling.

Only ever seen in sketch form by the public, this small, all-wheel-drive SUV was set to be unveiled at the ‘05 Frankfurt motor show, but the event was cancelled. A photo of the concept emerged in 2009 when someone snapped the would-be off-roader in a secret Mercedes storage facility.

It’s unfortunate that not much of the technology from this 2011 concept found its way into production. An electrically powered range of 110 miles, heat-reflecting paint and glass - able to reduce cabin temperatures by a ridiculous 20 degrees C - and solar tech on the roof would have been interesting features to see on production cars. Bit of a shame it never happened…

Ok, so it’s not actually a car – but it’s one of the few things on this list styled with a modicum of restraint…

By James Clark