Autobytel’s new Smart pictures aren’t really any wiser than our usual ones, but they do provide an ideal visual update on one of the industry’s small-car pioneers. Now getting a noticeable boost in corporate attention under the oversight of Mercedes-Benz, the Smart project actually grew out of a partnership between M-B and the popular watch brand “Swatch” in the early 1990s.
The latest new Smart pictures—and Smart vehicles—continue to show off the funky style and nimble proportions of the original, right down to its integrated safety-cell construction that provides both added occupant protection and an eye-catching style cue. And there’s good reason to believe the rest of the industry is finally catching up with the Smart approach to motoring. Today, U.S. customers can choose from a growing number of city-sized cars, which, if they’re not quite as small as the Smart, are still the beneficiaries of its high-profile presence in this country. As a reminder, not only can you see plenty of examples in our new Smart pictures, but you also can catch the cars playing big roles in television shows and movies like “The Simpsons” and “The Da Vinci Code.” It’s even been the subject of much attention from the fashion world, with an exclusive production version from Jeremy Scott, and tuners like Brabus, which once stuffed a 215-hp V6 into a roadster prototype.
Meanwhile, Smart is back to pushing boundaries with new special-edition models and a very affordable electric version, all while maintaining a roster that also includes coupe and convertible configurations.