Smart crosstown: An Exercise in Making a Good Thing Better

The smart crosstown was an innovative exercise in taking a new design and giving it even bolder and more aggressive styling. This new smart design concept vehicle was unveiled at the 2005 Frankfurt Auto Show. It was clearly a design intended to build on the success and uniqueness of the fortwo model.

The crosstown concept was engineered and configured much like the existing two-seat fortwo.

The crosstown was built with the same intent for getting two passengers from point A to B in comfortable economy. It was also intended to achieve the same levels of performance and handling, but with styling that was intended to be much bolder.

The influences from the world of Jeep and Mini Cooper were evident in the crosstown.

In reality, the smart crosstown’s immediate look was that of a miniature cousin of the Jeep or possibly a cross between a Jeep and a Mini Cooper. It differed greatly from existing smart designs and had an attractive, even aggressive look about it. Even the tires and wheels were reminiscent of the types of equipment seen on many custom Jeeps.

However, very unlike the Jeep, the crosstown had a wheelbase of approximately 1.9 meters. It also had short overhangs of 40 centimeters in the front and 39 at the rear of the car. Overall length of the crosstown was a mere 2.68 meters. Width and height were both approximately 1.58 meters.

When compared to the fortwo at 2.5 meters in length and a wheelbase of 1.81 meters, the crosstown compares favorably to the fortwo.

The smart crosstown show car had a distinctive feel and characteristics. The typical smart car design features are immediately evident. The tridion safety capsule – a smart trademsmart cat top view-interiorark is very much present in the crosstown. It is made from high-strength steel and coated with matt-finished titanium.

Contrasting body panels follow previous smart styling guidelines of using two differing materials in different colors. These design elements enable the entire smart line of cars to be immediately identifiable on the road.

However, the most unique feature in the crosstown was the hybrid three-cylinder gasoline engine/electric motor power plant. This allowed the crosstown to achieve 10% better acceleration and an increase in fuel economy of 15% over existing traditionally gasoline-powered fortwo models.

The Crosstown also had some aesthetically attractive and functional features like a hideaway windshield for “wind-in-the-hair” driving, USB ports for all things electronic, and the availability of an optional high-tech navigation system.

Smart was one of only a few manufacturers with the ability to pull this type of vehicle off, and actually bring it into production. This was the kind of innovation and uniqueness parent company DaimlerBenz was renowned for doing.

However, the crosstown concept vehicle was viewed to have a “gimmicky” feel about it. It was not well received by the press and considered as a concept city car that had been tried and done before – often. For these reasons and perhaps a few others, the car never caught on with buyers.