Ready for its close-up at the 2012 Paris Auto Show, the new smart forstars Concept takes the micro-scaled two-seater into new territory while providing a look at the automaker's "future design idiom." Leveraging a good deal of thinking that first surfaced in the smart for-us Concept pickup that debuted last January in Detroit, this newest electric-powered exercise in possibility thinking has been dubbed by smart as a Sports Utility Coupe, an appellation to which it has chosen to apply the rather unfortunate "SUC" acronym.
Substantially longer and wider than a standard smart fortwo, the forstars Concept also benefits from a 23.7-inch wheelbase stretch that nets a huge gain in cabin space for people and their belongings. Finished in Alubeam Rouge framed by its Tridium safety cell and rear flanks rendered in matte titanium, the forstars Concept also rides on massive 21-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 245/35 Michelin sport tires. Bolder body contours and more aggressive fascia treatments are set off by rhomboid-shaped LED-infused lighting elements, while a transparent red front sun visor and red "eyebrow" accents above each headlamp are balanced by a red decklid spoiler. The taillamps also feature a unique hidden asset. Each swings out of the way, with the right unit concealing access to the battery charge port and the left a mini stow space for a 12-oz can of your favorite beverage or other appropriately scaled items.
The literal crowning element of the forstars Concept package - and the one for which it's named - is a large clear glass convex roof panel that affords an unobstructed view of the night sky and all of its stellar splendor. It flows seamlessly into the car's glass hatch that covers the cargo bay. That, too, borrows elements from the for-us Concept, notably an electronically-activated, drop-down rear tailboard and articulated cargo floor that extends to create a 35-inch-long easy-access flat surface. Not to be outdone in the functional flexibility department, the hood of the forstars Concept uses the area normally reserved for a conventional scoop to house a trick projection unit that can toss a classic film or the latest music video onto the side of a nearby building or any vertical surface.
Inside, the smart forstars Concept's airy, contemporary cabin is done in various complementary red tones with mother-of-pearl white and brushed aluminum accenting. Beyond its open-top two-spoke steering wheel and main instrument cluster, the driver gets input from a smartphone that can be snapped into a cradle on the windshield where the rearview mirror would normally be located. In addition to monitoring the road behind using the car's aft-facing camera, it also serves as the on-board media manager and projector control device. Seats in the forstars Concept are shell-type buckets trimmed in supple white bag leather with red inserts. Open center sections create a hammock-like look and feel, and the covers are easily removable/replaceable to allow for added personalization.
Motivation for the smart forstars Concept is supplied by a modified version of the rear-mounted electric motor/lithium-ion battery pack from the new Brabus smart fortwo electric drive. Tweaked to produce 80 horsepower, it puts a bit more snap in the vehicle's acceleration and ensures a top speed in excess of 80 mph.