Besides being Smart, it was the first city car with “intelligence”.  The story of a good project

Besides being Smart, it was the first city car with “intelligence”. The story of a good project


It is not true that Smart invented the Fortwo, many years before its arrival the famous manufacturer that would become a pioneer in the world of electric city cars had done something very similar!

Do you know the historical context? they make you ask what would have happened if things had gone differently? Very few are aware of it but the very famous Japanese company has a “danger” of closing the Colossus Smart in time which, although it is now changing the register, was the basis for the creation of a two-seater city car as we understand it today. the world.

(MondoFuoristrada.it)

Small revolution!

If we stop to think about which cars have been developed in recent years that have changed the most how we understand personal transport, we cannot fail to consider the small ones. Smart Fortwo German as one of the primary vehicles for the conception of a new way of moving. The compact car has been specially designed to meet the growing need to find parking and navigate traffic in increasingly congested cities.

Part for the unquestionable line and part for “Pocket size” features. The Smart Fortwo that arrived at the end of the nineties was one of the first bubble cars, those small cars with only two seats and the ability to offer comfort and space on board in favor of better agility in a big city as it is confusing. allowing even those without a garage to always find parking.

Bolla Web Source 24_01_2023 MondoFuoristarda
We can think of her as the “grandmother” of the Smart project in a sense (MondoFuoristrada.it)

A shared idea

Now that’s Smart it is more and more self-directed towards the crossover market maybe fail with its original “mission”, one wonders if the brand would have known the same success if a rival company had developed a car of microscopic dimensions before it: other houses such as Opel with the Maxx of 1995 or the Japanese Mitsubishi of the same year came very close.

The Japanese company that has produced iconic models such as the Eclipse and Lancer has also unveiled one of the first cars of its kind to ever hit the road: a two-seater minivan that you see in these pages could have stolen the stick of the queen of city cars from the German company … if only it had been less afraid and more farsighted about market trends.

Rats of the city

It was conceived and presented in 1995 a few months after Opel’s Maxx, the small and mysterious. Mitsubishi Mouse – a name that sounds similar to a rat, hence the topo in English – is a missed opportunity for a Japanese company that could have taken the supermini industry by beating its German rival to the punch, which for some unknown reason never happened.

Mitsubishi Web Source 24_01_2023 MondoFuoristrada
Only a few photos left of the Mitsubishi Maus (MondoFuoristrada.it)

The car was officially presented at the 31st Tokyo Motor Show that year it was real Smart before the expanded Smart was introduced: a car weighing only 500 kg boasted a three-cylinder engine of 500cc, almost transferred to a motorcycle, which could be replaced if necessary with an electric analogue. Perhaps from here, the idea of ​​iMiEV came many years later.

On board the Maus was similar to the Smart but perhaps smaller with a length of less than two and a half meters which sacrificed practically the entire trunk for lightness in the city. The Japanese house for some reason shelved the project without even trying to bring it in the mass production stage: a big strategic mistake, given what happened a few years later!