by: Mike Ginsca,
The Smart ForTwo has always been a quirky urban vehicle. In 2017, Smart introduced an all electric version of the ForTwo and discontinued gas and diesel versions of the car. So is the all electric version enough for a city?
Motor – The Smart ForTwo uses a 60-kW motor developing 80 hp and 118 lb-ft of torque which directly powers the back wheels. There is no transmission with the Smart. With a motor of this power and no transmission, the top speed of the Smart is 130 km/h. Honestly, more speed is definitely not needed with this type of car. Acceleration to 60 km/h from a stop is very quick, dare I say it, faster than some sports cars. However beyond 60 km/h, the acceleration slows down drastically and it takes a while for the ForTwo to reach highway cruising speeds. Overtaking on a highway at close to the car’s top speed also takes a bit of time to accomplish. But stick to the city streets and you’ll beat just about everyone off the line.
Battery – The Smart’s battery is a 17.6-kWh Lithium-ion pack that is good for 160 km according to Smart. In reality though you’re looking more towards the 110 km range area depending on what electrical features you use. During my time with the ForTwo Electric, it was cold so I had the heater on every time I got into the car. The on-board range calculator would tell me that it would run out of electricity from 100% in about 96 km. As a long distance trip car, the Smart doesn’t make sense. But for a city runabout, the range is enough.
Charging takes approximately 2.5 to 3 hours from a 240V fast charging station or around 12 to 14 hours from 0 to 100% from a 120V wall outlet.
Braking – The regenerative braking on the Smart ForTwo Electric is strong but there is no mode to change the ferocity or to have one pedal driving like in the Nissan Leaf. However there is a feeling of disconnect when applying the brakes and it goes from regenerative braking to physical braking, as in, the brake discs stop the car.
Handling – Rear wheel drive, small, and quick steering is a recipe that all sports cars strive for. This Smart is not a sports car. But it does feel lively and darty through city traffic. It’s not going to be a rival to the Tesla Roadster or anything like that. But with it’s quick off the line acceleration and quick response steering, it can still be a bit of fun within city limits.
Ride Comfort – Due to the ForTwo’s short wheelbase, it has one bouncy ride. Small undulations in the road can feel like you’re driving over a dirt road. Hit bigger bumps with speed, and you may just feel a moment of weightlessness.
Interior Space – I am 6’4” and to my surprise, I fit in the Smart ForTwo Electric. There is just enough room for my long legs and my head. One complaint I have though is the placement of the exterior mirror adjustment switch. My knee kept hitting it. There is some storage behind the seats that’s big enough for a couple of briefcases. But that space disappears when the roof is fully open.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – This being a convertible, it is to be expected to have outside noises intrude into the cabin. Road, wind, people having a conversation as they pass by, all of these noises can be heard from inside with the top up or down.
Interior Design – The Smart ForTwo has always been a funky, far from normal type of vehicle and it shows in the interior design. To the left of the driver is the battery charge and power consumption gauge that sticks out from the dashboard. In the center is a 180 degree speedometer with a driver information screen in the middle. And to the right is the 7” infotainment touch screen with the climate controls below it. Overall the interior style matches the rest of the funky car and I think it looks good.
Odds and Ends
Gadgets – Overall the Smart ForTwo Electric is pretty basic. It doesn’t have navigation or blind spot sensors or parking sensors and other features like those but it has pretty much everything one would need for a city car. Bluetooth, cruise control, automatic climate control, Android Auto compatibility (no Apple CarPlay), and heated seats.
One problem I did have though with the infotainment is that it doesn’t seem to have much processing power to handle Android Auto. After about 10 minutes, the system would lag and eventually shut down the entire Android Auto app. Maybe it was just a problem with my demo or maybe it affects more cars. I don’t know.
Exterior Styling – For the 2017 model year, the Smart received an update that gave it new looks as well as a wider footprint. It is still just as short, as is shown in the pictures, but with the wider stance, it looks better than before.
The starting price of the 2018 Smart ForTwo Electric Cabrio is $32,050 CAD. But once you start adding on the options like the 7” touch screen, ambient lighting, and oh, the $125 center armrest, the price goes up to $34,890 CAD. It is quite a bit of money for such a small car however a small bit of that can be mitigated thanks to government incentives. For someone that drives strictly in a city, it may be worth the money if they keep it for a long time. But for everyone else, there are better alternatives.
Thank you to Mercedes-Benz / Smart Canada for providing the vehicle. www.Smart.com/ca
Editor at large and gearhead. Can drive anything on 4 or 2 wheels... sometimes 3 wheels too.