Smart Crosstown Concept

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DaimlerChrysler's money-losing minicar division put on a smiley face at Frankfurt and quelled talk of its possible demise by rolling out the Crosstown concept car. Born out of an exercise to determine the look of the next-generation ForTwo, the Crosstown is clearly based on that car, but is 7.1 inches longer, at just over eight feet, nine inches. Although it still uses the characteristic body panels attached to an exposed structural skeleton, the Crosstown ditches the egg-shaped styling for a pseudo-Jeep look. A power soft top retracts over the integral roll bar and stacks at the rear. The upright windshield, which is hinged at the bottom, can then flop forward, where it stows under the clamshell front lid. Although earlier this year Smart scuttled plans to launch in the U.S. market, the Crosstown's interior evidently was designed during more hopeful times, as its instrument panel shows "how an instrument panel might look that meets U.S. standards." Its molded-in-plastic graffiti is perhaps an indication of how Europeans see America. Other noteworthy design elements inside include distressed-leather seats, window knobs that look like skateboard wheels, and rubber flooring. As befits Smart's eco-friendly image, the Crosstown also features a hybrid powertrain. A three-cylinder gasoline engine is paired with an electric motor, the combination delivering 4.7L/100km fuel economy in the European cycle.

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