Mercedes-Benz has an oft-overlooked division that makes tiny cars. It calls itself smart, and at this year’s North American International Auto Show, it unveiled an electric sport utility coupe that transforms into a drive-in movie theater.
How about them apples?
According to a smart press release, the concept car known as the forstars gets its cheeky name from its glass roof, which ostensibly gives occupants a good view of the stars on a clear night, and from its ability to make use of a hood-mounted video projector to provide an on-demand drive-in movie experience anywhere you can find a flat wall.
Sporting a 60 kW magneto-electric motor, the car makes 100 ft-lbs of torque and will reach a top speed of 80 mph, though you probably wouldn’t want to go that fast if you expected to get the maximum range out of its 17.6 kWh battery pack.
The chassis measures just shy of 140 inches long, much longer than the 97-inch smart fortwo with which many motorists are familiar and about the same length as a Fiat 500. One might imagine the folks at smart had the all-electric Fiat 500e squarely in their sights when they designed the forstars.
smart says the projector’s media player is operated via Bluetooth from an iPhone. A high-quality sound system adds to the cinematic experience. The smartphone serves double duty when it is mounted in a holder at the top of the windshield to operate as the car’s rearview mirror, smart claims, making use of an integrated video camera. Further, that same smartphone serves as the media source for the infotainment system, streaming music files or internet radio stations across the car’s stereo.
Will smart build it? We’ll have to wait and see. It certainly couldn’t hurt the brand to have more than one model in its lineup, though we’d be curious to see how a conventional combustion engine-powered forstars would do in terms of fuel economy. With its additional length sure to make aerodynamics a little more friendly for fuel mileage than the stubby fortwo, surely it could do better than that car’s underwhelming EPA estimated 36 MPG combined.