Some of the concept cars that turn up at motor shows seem a little bit mad, but the smart forstars scheduled to be unveiled at the 2012 Paris Motor Show (September 29 - October 14) is a car that seems to have developed a particularly serious identity disorder. On the one hand, it’s an electric SUC (Sports Utility Coupé). On the other hand, it’s a mobile video projector for staging impromptu cinema outings on any handy blank wall.
Designed as a city car for a hip, urban market, the smart forstars gets its name from its all-glass roof, which allows for a bit of stargazing. It also serves as a bit of wordplay regarding the video projector mounted in its front bonnet that can be used to display stars of the Hollywood variety. The projector is designed to be operated by a smartphone and is linked to a high-quality sound system with speakers in ventilation openings behind the doors.
According to smart boss Dr Annette Winkler, "with its powerful battery and integrated projector the smart forstars can transform any grey backyard into an animated open-air cinema." Provided, of course, you have a blank white wall to serve as a screen.
Described by the company as “agile and lively," the smart forstars is an all-electric vehicle that seats two, yet has an unusually ample storage compartment for a smart car. Its 60 kW (80 bhp) magneto-electric motor from the new smart BRABUS electric drive is an increase over production smart cars and provides 135 Nm (100 ft-lbs) of torque from the 17.6 kWh lithium ion battery. Top speed is reported as 130 kph (80 mph).
The forstars takes some of its cues from the smart for-us, such as an emphasis on curves and an oversized brand emblem on the grill. It retains the familiar smart silhouette with the wheels set at the extreme corners, though it has a longer wheelbase along with extremely short overhangs and a distinct ledge where the bodywork meets the windscreens.
The upper half looks almost like something off of an old Messerschmitt bubble car. However, unlike Messerschmitt bubble cars, the tail lights open. Behind one is the charging socket for the batteries and behind the other is space for storing a drink can, naturally.
Aside from the bubble top and the projector, the outside seems almost sensible. Open the door, however, and you can see where the designers stuffed all the madness. It’s pure concept with a color palette chosen for its visual impact. The interior color scheme is "alubeam rouge" – a deliberate attempt at a garish contrast to the matte titanium finish of the Tridion Safety Cell that forms the structure of smart's cars.
The seat shells are "covered with a soft fabric throw giving them a hammock-like seating feel," according to smart. "The graphic elements and different red tones of the covers indicate a progression and thus underline the dynamism and the very trendy aspect of the vehicle.” They’re also trimmed in white bag leather, which is another notch down on the practicality scale.
Meanwhile, the dashboard instruments in the driver’s cockpit look like they’re staring back at you. As a final touch, there’s no rearview mirror either. Instead the driver places his smartphone in a mount and watches the road behind by means of the car’s rearview camera. The docked smartphone is also used to control the car's projector.