In automotive circles, the name ‘Brabus’ does not evoke images of small, fuel-efficient cars. Just the opposite. The renowned German performance tuner is famous for turning high-end European automobiles from Mercedes and BMW into vicious street machines. So when SmartUSA recently teamed up with Brabus, there appeared to be a disconnect.

In reality, Smart has been working with Brabus on its European ForTwo for years. Daimler is recognized the American success of its Smart ForTwo —and is looking to further propel the standing
of its half-pint urban car. So SmartUSA will produce a Brabus-modified model to the ForTwo lineup beginning in early 2009. And though the variant will bring with it a number of cosmetic and mechanical upgrades, the US ForTwo will retain its current 71-horsepower three-cylinder engine. Thus, efficiency will remain its top priority.

The Brabus ForTwo will offer a custom body kit defined by a black or silver exterior with specialized sill treatments and badging to give the car a unique outward show. The niche ForTwo will be outfitted with an electronically boosted power steering, and a lower, more tightly tuned suspension to increase handling prowess. It will ride on larger, six-spoke alloy wheels with 17-inch tires. The larger rotating mass of these tires may have a slight adverse effect on fuel economy. The Brabus ForTwo will display a new center-mounted dual exhaust designed to intensify the sound of the engine—just for effect.

Inside, the new model will feature black leather seats and steering wheel, metallic dash trim, a newly configured gauge cluster, and bright aluminum pedals.

In European markets, the Brabus ForTwo is upgraded with a 98-horsepower turbocharged engine for increased performance. This model is three seconds faster than the standard model in the zero to 100 kph run. Unlike the upcoming US version, both fuel economy and emissions have been compromised with the Eurospec model.

Only 1,500 Brabus models will be made for the US market. Those who have already reserved
a ForTwo will have the opportunity to upgrade to the Brabus model, even before new customer orders are accepted. Pricing will start at around $18,000 for the coupe and $22,000 for the convertible. That’s approximately a $5,000 premium over standard ForTwo models.