The smart formore - smart SUV from 2004

Everyone is talking about the upcoming all-electric smart formore, which will be presented at the IAA in Munich. It will be built together with Geely and is intended to realign the brand. In the future, they don't just want to build small cars. They also want to build main cars and start that with an SUV.

But the idea for a smart SUV is almost as old as the brand itself. Smart was at the topic as early as 2004 and developed the smart formore at full speed. During my research on the subject, however, I noticed that this car is practically no longer in the history of Daimler. As if it had been there and suddenly no one talked about it anymore.

The smart formore has a very exciting history and comes from a time when smart had big things in mind, but then everything fell victim to restructuring. In this article I tell you the story of the original smart formore.

At this point, a big thank you to the entire community:

2004-06 was a long time ago and since I'm from 1998, I can't rlate on my own memories. The entire smart community helped me to get the story right. I would like to mention by name Michael Gruber, a smart driver from the very beginning. He had given me an insight into the events and also explained the presumed background.

Also a very big thank you to Thomas Lotter of Lotter Media. He made the photos available to me, which you can see here. Some of these are even photos that have not yet been published anywhere. Apart from these photos, there are only unofficial low-resolution photos from the smart formore.

To start with: What do we officially know about the original smart formore?

Presumably there were press releases in the past that are no longer online at Daimler today. At least my research gave me that impression. In today's public press releases the smart formore is only mentioned in relation to the company's history. For some reason it's the year 2006 which is mentioned as the year of the smart formore. Even tho it was anounced in 2004 and by 2006 nobody talked about it anymore.

In the model history, the smart formore is listed as an off-road vehicle concept. Smart appropriately referred to it as a smart utility vehicle (sUV), a parody of the common SUV (sports utility vehicle) name. It was definitely planned to add it as an off-road vehicle to the brand. The all-wheel drive system was a figurehead and the resulting vehicle was supposed to convey the "core values of the brand: innovation, functionality and joie de vivre". Something that the brand is never tiered of emphasizing, then and now.

The design was definitely based on the first smart forfour and was ment to remain true to "the characteristic design virtues of the first series model". "smart is not only the youngest automobile brand on the market, it has also become a symbol of a new awareness of mobility. This is what the smart forfour also stands for, despite technical differences to the other models."

Der smart formore - smart SUV von 2004 Der smart formore - smart SUV von 2004 Der smart formore - smart SUV von 2004 Der smart formore - smart SUV von 2004

The brand's early enthusiasm was the base for the formore

The goal of the formore was clearly defined at the time and can still be read today in a wide variety of publications from back then: It was published in January 2004 that the model was ment to launch the smart brand in to the American market. For this purpose, the Brazilian DaimlerCrysler production line should then build 60,000 vehicles a year in Juiz de Fora. It was apparently officially planned that at least half of these would be purchased in the USA or other core markets of smart.

Andreas Renschler, chairman of the smart management at the time, declared "[...] This new model from the smart brand will be a unique and individual car on the market - so unique that we translate 'sUV' with smart utility vehicle". He continued "The smart formore should offer andrenalin-charged driving fun - even off the pre made track - expressive design as well as high utility value. It is the perfect model for introducing the smart brand to the US market."

In articles from the time it is also emphasized again and again that with the name formore the brand continues to carry their new model names, as they had just started. The name should always represent the vehicle it designates. So formore was very obvious. Lets remember: When the smart fortwo was introduced, it was still known simply as smart coupe or city coupe. The name fortwo only came about when the forfour was introduced.

I'm from Germany, as the brand is. But I found the English articles also very interesting. There the brand and its way of life are presented to the readers with "If you’ve been to Europe, you’ve seen the unique smart brand vehicles on the street.". The smart brand was described as the brand that revolutionized the design, production and marketing of small cars worldwide.

That time must have been really exciting. Regardless of whether it is German or English publications, the hype and enthusiasm surrounding the brand can still be felt in the articles today.

Big engine, new platform, lots of ideas

Here I had to collect from everywhere and cannot give a 100% guarantee that everything will be correct. But I'll share with you what my research found, or what I read in several places and also what seems plausible:

The model series of the smart formore would have been "456", a new platform was specially developed for it. This later became the Mercedes GLA. Visually and in design, it was intended as an SUV version of the smart forfour at the time. Even tho it technically didn't have a lot in common with it, actually nothing. That's also reviled, for example, by the brake system and the 5-hole connection for the rims. A smart formore was exhibited at some point in the car park of the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, from that there are a few pictures of poor quality.

The formore also did not have the engines, the old forfour had: A V6 is mentioned in several places and would probably have become the basic engine. Neither that nor an all-wheel drive system is something the Mitsubishi Colt Z30, on which the forfour was based on, from back then had. Unfortunately, more technical details are not known about the car, even as there were already training courses for smart ServiceCenter employees at the time.

The design and the design language

Der smart formore - smart SUV von 2004

The design language was clearly based to the Forfour and made it appear much more confident and larger. In order to achieve this, it was important that the formore retained the design elements of the forfour. And for example, became larger with and wider wheel arches, as well as more suspension travel. In addition, accents were set with large tires and air intakes in the bonnet.

The interior of the formore was dominated by a very clean cockpit and an extremely modern looking media system. According to the gear shifter, the formore was equipped with an automatic transmission. Perfect for the American market.

Overall, I am pleasantly surprised at how modern it still looks today. Finally, it should not be forgotten that this study is now several decades old.

The taillights also seem modern, no comparison to the regular taillights of the smart forfour. With all of this it is of course unclear how close it was to the planed series model. But since this vehicle was able to drive independently during its photo shoot back in 2019, I would describe the formore as it is in these photos as "rather close" to series production.

The dream has come to an end, the smart formore is being crushed

In April 2005, DaimlerCrysler announce d that the smart formore had been canceled. This happened along with a far-reaching restructuring of the company. Michael Gruber still remembers it.

Ultimately, the near-series smart formore was never presented, not even as study. The project ended a few weeks before it should have been presented. A few months later the smart forfour, on which the formore was based (only visually). At the time, smart was serious about the restructuring and paid for it. Since the forfour rolled off the assembly line together with th Mitsubishi Colt, smart had to pay "horrific sums" of compensation for its early end. At that time, smart decided to concentrate exclusively on the fortwo again. During this time, smart also switched away from beeing a independent Daimler company to the being a direct Daimler company.

The question now arises as to why the brand had not at least presented the study. Looking at it soberly, it wouldn't even have been unusual to show a study and then not build it. But that's exactly what smart had already bad experience with: Shortly before, smart had shown the Crosstown study and then received a lot of criticism for not building it. Apparently they wanted to avoid that with the formore.

At the time of its discontinuation, the smart formore project was probably already quite advanced, and was no longer just a pure design study. Photos of the test fleet at that time are circulating on the Internet. Estimated there were around a dozen test vehicles beeing tested on the roads. On later photos you can see the unfortunate remains of these test vehicles as they are crushed and stacked on top of each other. Only the vehicle for the presentation at the IAA Frankfurt was spared. It stood for a long time in a warehouse at the factory in Hambach and was seen there for the last time at brand's 20th anniversary in 2018. Since the new owner of the plant moved in, it is no longer there.

Der smart formore - smart SUV von 2004 Der smart formore - smart SUV von 2004 Der smart formore - smart SUV von 2004 Der smart formore - smart SUV von 2004


It is really remarkable with how much euphoria they approached the smart formore back then. How much the brand, its fans and, of course, its financial supporters had hopes for it. Unfortunately, it didn't turn out like that. I sincerely hope that they have learned something from this time and that they don't make the same mistakes again with the new edition of the formore. The current start is promising, even if an SUV from smart sounds strange at first. There are very good reasons for this and I'm also quite enthusiastic about the new smart SUV. Then as now, there is a lot of potential in it. But this time they should definitely dare to actually bring it onto the market.

Afterwards you always know better: In retrospect, it was a mistake that the brand limited itself to the smart fortwo. Small SUVs in particular were a completely new trend and the smart formore would certainly have been a hit. But I hope that this will not be translated 1:1 to the present day. The fortwo is still a very popular and practically unrivaled car. To terminate the fortwo in favor of the smart formore would be fatal. Fortunately, Mr. Wolfgang Ufer, CEO of smart Germany, gave a clear statement on this on LinkedIn:

"By the way, this vehicle is not a replacement for our fortwo but a smart extension of our urban all-electric segment, i.e. super compact exterior dimensions but with great, spacious interior as well as many smart innovations around design, space and connectivity. "

Do you have questions about smart and e-mobility or do you want to discuss the content of this page?

Then register today here in the smart EMOTION forum. The constantly growing community is happy to engage in expert discussions and share their experiences with you. I also participate and support you with my network and expertise.