The alliance between Smart parent Daimler and Renault-Nissan is getting stronger with word that the companies' ForFour and Twingo urban minicars will share a rear-wheel drive platform.

A three-year-old collaboration agreement has Renault-Nissan producing gasoline and electric versions of the ForFour alongside the similarly sized Twingo at the factory in Novo Mesto, Slovenia.

The agreement is designed to cut production costs. The bad news is that the new models won't launch until 2014, instead of in 2013 as both companies previously announced. The delay could be due to switching the Twingo from front- to rear-wheel drive, but neither manufacturer is confirming or denying this development. The two companies also are collaborating on a common electric powertrain and battery for EV versions of both models.

European sales of the Twingo fell 31 percent last year to less than 100,000 units, dropping the car to fourth in the segment behind the No. 1 Fiat Panda, Fiat 500 and Volkswagen Up!, according to data from market researcher JATO Dynamics. At the same time, Smart's global sales rose 2 percent to just over 100,000 vehicles, says Green Car Congress. Renault hopes that by moving the Twingo to rear-wheel drive, it will give them a unique talking point in sales. Us? We hope it will lead to higher-performance hot hatch, of which Renault has a strong history.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 31 Comments
      RetrogradE
      • 1 Year Ago
      Perhaps I was confused, only because I've never considered an automatic transmission in any form to be a manual or even semi-manual. A MT is one where the driver moves the stick around like it owes him money. Anything else is an automatic. There's no sense in differentiating these by saying "proper manual."
      CTK
      • 1 Year Ago
      This could be really interesting depending on the powertrains they offer. I'm idealizing this and looking at this like a rear engine Panda 100
      imoore
      • 1 Year Ago
      Who says rear wheel drive is dead?
        Reggie
        • 1 Year Ago
        @imoore
        F1, Le Mans, WBK, Moto GP, GT1, GT2 GT3 GT4, IndyCar, Champ Car, DTM and Bathurst to name but a few lap records were broken still held at just about every motor racing circuits around world, when did Rear Wheel-Drive disappear?
      FuelToTheFire
      • 1 Year Ago
      Cars this small need to be banned. They are much too small and if anything bigger than a tin can hits them, the driver inside is toast. IIHS did a test where the smartfortwo was crashed into another small car(MB C) and the thing was pretty much destroyed. Plus, anyone with a Y chromosome who actually wants to drive this thing needs to give up his testicles.
        Z. Kesh
        • 1 Year Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        There is a correlation between such small cars and ailing demography.
        Aaron
        • 1 Year Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        If driving a big, gas-slurping, heavy, un-aerodynamic, dangerously easy to roll SUV gives me big testicles, then I'll stay with my already-big testicles. Apparently you haven't heard of the adage of big truck = small testicles. That's why I drive a small car. I am not compensating. :)
        American Refugee
        • 1 Year Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        Tomorrow, while you are driving your giant "manly" truck to the Taco Bell for "fourth meal" or the big box church to hear inspiring stories about American Jesus, I'll be driving a car share electric Smart to my rugby match and spending 80 minutes slamming Dutch farm boys into the mud and ripping the ball from their hands. I'm not so much worried about the state of my y chromosome, since the car I drive isn't what makes me a man. Real men pick the best tools for the job, and in my life that's frequently a little city car like this. What makes me feel unsafe is knowing I have to share the road with morons like you who are trying to compensate for their, um, shortcomings behind the wheel.
        Koenigsegg
        • 1 Year Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        you are too ignorant to even argue with
        Carma Racing
        • 1 Year Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        Agree they are girly cars for sure, but banned??? Ban motorcycles too? Ban crossing the street?
        Ford Future
        • 1 Year Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        The Smart was developed by Mercedes Benz. Had you been a reader three years ago, you'd have seen some great crash footage. The car is build every will, with lots of airbags.
      Carma Racing
      • 1 Year Ago
      It would be interesting to know if it will be front or rear engined....
      pontoppidanpete
      • 1 Year Ago
      Rear wheel drive, for such af little nimble car, sounds like a lot of fun. Good decision!.
        spa2nky1
        • 1 Year Ago
        @pontoppidanpete
        The current ForTwo is RWD...and it is not fun...
        2 wheeled menace
        • 1 Year Ago
        @pontoppidanpete
        It is not fun, because of the manumatic and crap engine. They literally imported the worst powertrain possible to the USA and expected us to not notice.
      Reggie
      • 1 Year Ago
      RWD Renault Twingo sound like a real blast, a small car that can handle power without torque steer problems and the front end does not drift out around a rounderbout or corner, understeer out around a bend at the font end is damm right dangerous. RWD is real fun you can drift and steer from the rear your self out of trouble. Fun to drive small car this can't be right, the way to go.
      Cabriofan
      • 1 Year Ago
      The 2 cars in the world which I find most ridiculous, the SMART and the Twingo, are joining forces. The end of the world is near.
      2o6
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'm not sure switching the Twingo to a RR layout is a wise idea.
        maxauthority
        • 1 Year Ago
        @2o6
        Why? It's certainly making the Twingo much more special than the direct competitors and actually a "cheap" way into getting some sporty car (I am sure there'll be an RS version) for a very affordable price. Now that with the future 1er BMWs going FWD it's next to impossible to get any fun-to-drive RWD car with 4 seats for
          2o6
          • 5 Days Ago
          @maxauthority
          Why do people get so caught up in drive wheels, especially for a CITY CAR? The Up! was originally supposed to be RR, but because of cost and packaging concerns, a Front-engine layout was used. The Toyota iQ is only about a foot longer than the fortwo, but because of it's clever packaging and it's FF layout, it can fit *four* people inside, and with an engine that is actually pretty large for a car like that. FWD for small cars is a no brainer; not only for cost reasons, but packaging as well.
      domingorobusto
      • 1 Year Ago
      Ooo, a car that tiny with RWD? I want! Give it a proper manual and not the Smarts piece of shite transmission and it should be a hoot. Or, put the current Renaultsport 133 engine in the back and make one of the greatest hot hatches ever. If they do that second option, that NEEDS to be sold in America, because I WOULD buy one of those.
        RetrogradE
        • 1 Year Ago
        @domingorobusto
        OK, I've got to ask: WTF is a "proper manual." I've read that a few times and it makes no sense. Not all manual trannies are the same, I get that, but "proper" is too arcane of a word to use with this kind of thing. What this car needs is a shallow grave. It's so ugly I'd rather ride a mule through town than drive this.
          domingorobusto
          • 1 Year Ago
          @RetrogradE
          As in not the automated manual that is in the current Smart. The Wiki article for it is quite complete. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semi-automatic_transmission By give it a proper manual I mean give it a gear shift lever and a clutch pedal.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 1 Year Ago
        @domingorobusto
        By proper manual, he means a traditional 5 speed, not the manumatic dysfunction-box they currently have in this car.
      The Wasp
      • 1 Year Ago
      And still there are people clamoring on here for any small car Europe comes up with...
      JC
      • 1 Year Ago
      Smart is almost dead in the U.S. so they should definitely concentrate their efforts/monies to the European market.
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