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A prototype of the third-generation Smart Fortwo has been spied for the first time wearing its own body panels, giving our best look yet at the production car that’s set to go on sale next year.

Snapped by CarAdvice’s spy photographers testing on public roads in Europe, the latest images follow previous test mule spy shots that showed the next-generation city car covered with a patchwork of various body panels.

Based on a shortened version of the platform that will underpin both the larger Smart Forfour and the all-new Renault Twingo – as part of a joint venture between Renault and Smart parent company Daimler – the spied Fortwo presents with a squared-off front end with a grooved bonnet and new headlights with LED daytime running lights.

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The profile and rear share more in common with the existing car, though its stubby rear end features new tail-lights and a relocated rear wiper. The prototype continues to ride on 15-inch wheels.

Shared again with the Forfour and Twingo, a range of low-capacity rear-mounted petrol and diesel engines will power the rear wheels of the Smart Fortwo, with an all-electric option also expected sometime after the launch of the standard cars.

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The Smart Fortwo is tipped for a Geneva motor show unveiling in March.

In September, Mercedes-Benz Australia senior manager corporate communications David McCarthy said the next-generation two-seater would lob locally for “quite a bit under” $20,000, and likely below the $18,990 driveaway run-out price of the current 52kW/92Nm 1.0-litre three-cylinder model.

Click on the Photos tab for more images.

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