Concept cars often have design elements that are too wild for series production, and the Smart Fourjoy on display at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show is no exception. Yet if we imagine adding doors, a rear windshield, and a roof, this concept gives a very close preview of the next model from Smart, which is expected to go on sale about a year from now and will likely to be called the ForFour. Not convinced? Smart chief Dr. Annette Winkler says, "The exterior proportions already reveal a lot about the appearance of our four-seater production Smart, which will be launched at the end of 2014 and will also enable families to travel together."
We've seen many of the design elements in the Smart Fourjoy before. The For-Us concept at the 2012 Detroit auto show and the Forstars concept in Paris both demonstrated the upright nose, oversized lights, honeycomb air inlets, and whimsical interior treatments that are now part of the Fourjoy concept. Those show cars likely point toward a new version of the two-person Smart ForTwo, whereas the Fourjoy, as the name suggests, provides clues as to the Smart brand's new four-seater.
Outside meets inside
The design stays true to the original Smart formula, with the wheels placed at the body's far corners, short overhangs, an exposed Tridion safety cage, and squat hatchback proportions. The Tridion cage is polished aluminum, and the "Smart" badges are made from milled aluminum to better contrast with the pearlescent white paint. Full-LED lighting adorns the nose and tail; out back, the oversized square taillights are embedded into the safety cage, just as in the original ForTwo. The mirrors hang from skinny metal supports, a trick to make them look as if they are floating in space.
Smart says it deliberately skipped doors so viewers can better see the inside of the concept car. The floor is painted black so that, unnervingly, occupants will perceive that the bucket seats are floating in nothingness. Those seats have an organic, curving, modern-art look, although the odd cut-out in the backrest seems like a recipe for discomfort. A convex curved dashboard, which takes up the honeycomb styling theme, has a dock that uses the driver's smartphone to provide entertainment.
The Fourjoy's power comes from the same drivetrain as that of the production Smart ForTwo ED, a 55-kW electric motor and a 17.6-kWh lithium-ion battery. The Fourjoy also comes with a pair of electric skateboards, which are stowed in the trunk. To ensure safety, helmets are stored below the rear seats; to promote recklessness, the Fourjoy also includes an HD video camera for recording electric skateboarding ventures.
Aside from its open-air design, the Smart Fourjoy concept is a close preview of what we can expect from the next ForFour. Expected to be developed in tandem with the new Renault Twingo, the Smart ForFour should debut in production guise early next year and hit European showrooms by the end of 2014. Let's just hope they remember to fit some doors.