Tiny Smart Fortwo gets big improvements

All-new two-seater debuts for 2015

BERLIN, Germany - Smart, the company known in the United States for selling the minuscule Fortwo two-seater, revealed the next generation of the car this week.

The new smart fortwo (the company uses all lower-case letters for its names, so we'll go with that for the rest of this article) has been revealed in its European specifications. You can expect the American version to be very similar.

On the outside, the car has a much more muscular appearance, helped by its bulging headlights and taller hood.

The new version of the car also benefits from a wider stance. It's about 4 inches wider than the previous model, which gives it a bolder appearance and, according to smart, helps improve handling.

The other dimensions of the car remain roughly the same at 8.8 feet long and 5.1 feet tall.

The European version of the car will have two engine choices. There's a 1-liter 3-cylinder engine that generates 71 horsepower and 67 pound feet of torque. There's also a 0.9-liter 3-cylinder turbocharged engine worth 90 horsepower and 100 pound feet of torque.

Those numbers might not sound like a lot, but those engines are powering a tiny car. The weight of the new model has not yet been released, but the previous generation tipped the scales at about 1,800 pounds empty.

Because of its diminutive size, safety is a major concern. The new car features an updated and strengthened version of the cage that surrounds the passenger compartment. There are also five airbags along with a standard cross-wind alert system and optional systems that warn of possible forward collisions and lane departures.

Mercedes-Benz, which owns smart, also showed off the European version of the forfour, which seats four people. That vehicle has not historically been sold in the United States.

The official press release made no mention of when we can expect to see the new fortwo in the U.S., or what the base price will be.

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