Smart shows us its wild side with an energetic Forease+ concept

Does the Smart brand have a future? Unconfirmed reports claim it will be axed in the coming years, but the firm boldly argued it’s alive and well by displaying a fun, energetic concept named Forease+ during the 2019 Geneva Auto Show. It’s a glimpse into what the future holds for Smart’s catalog of diminutive city cars, according to the firm.

Those following the Smart brand will immediately recognize the name. The Forease+ is a follow-up to the Forease concept introduced during the 2018 Paris Auto Show. Not a lot has changed since. While the original Forease made its debut as a convertible with no roof, the Forease+ receives a piece of orange fabric that protects the occupants from the elements when they’re zigzagging across a city. Orange accents on both ends of the concept and on the wheels contribute a touch of color when the roof is off.

The Forease+ is visibly based on the current, third-generation Fortwo that’s sold exclusively as an electric car in the United States. Most of the interior comes straight from the assembly line, including the touchscreen on the center console and the digital instrument cluster, but Smart cut out the top part of the steering wheel and replaced the central air vents with round screens. It also added leather upholstery to create a more upscale atmosphere.

While the concept’s body shows Smart’s wild side, everything under the sheet metal comes from the brand’s parts bin. It’s powered by an electric drivetrain made up of a 17.6-kWh lithium-ion battery pack and a compact electric motor that zaps the rear wheels with 80 horsepower and 118 pound-feet of torque. Range checks in at 58 miles; that’s not much, not when Hyundai offers an electric Kona with up to 258 miles of range, but the Fortwo is a city car at heart, not a long-distance cruiser.

Smart hasn’t indicated what the future holds for the Forease+ concept. If you’re thinking it looks too far-fetched to reach production, keep in mind the brand has surprised us with even more offbeat models in the past. In 2002, it released a limited-edition variant of the original Fortwo named Crossblade that had no doors and no windshield. That doesn’t guarantee it will pull a similar trick in 2019, but we wouldn’t rule it out entirely.

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