Smart will stretch its existing line-up with a SUV, a prospect the fashion oriented brand has long been playing with in recent years. Now, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche himself has been quoted saying ‘if we were to go for any expansion for the smart family, the SUV segment would be the one to look into.’
The crossover is set to inherit the same Renault shared architecture, also used by its smaller fortwo and forfour siblings. The new model would help reduce the financial burden taken into account by developing a brand-new platform from scratch and take the profitability of the Renault-Daimler cooperation to new heights.
Another issue concerns the actual profitability of the brand, still far from being satisfactory, to say the least. Clearly, a small crossover seems more than poised to get things back on the right track, especially on the European market.
Still, Zetsche warns about the imminent obstacles engineering a small smart SUV could pose, all because of its space-related issues and rear-engine plus rear-drive configuration.
At the other end of Mercedes’ SUV aspirations lies the tantalising possibility of a Maybach SUV. “We will do more Maybach models, but it will not be for all vehicles. Any Maybach must make sense, because it is not just about putting an emblem on a car,” Martin Hulder, project manager for the revamped S-class range, has revealed.
Tech-wise, the Mercedes-Maybach SUV is set to be based on the upcoming GLS. It will be positioned as a direct competitor for the already announced Bentley Bentayga and the first SUV from Rolls-Royce, the later still caught in development limbo, catering for hot demand in markets like Asia or the Middle East, where large sport-utility vehicles are still prized for their imposing stature and generous cabin accommodation.