Smart Fortwo Electric Drive (2012) review

Published:24 September 2010

The Smart Fortwo Electric Drive; coming to a Merc dealer near you from 2012
  • At a glance
  • 3 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5
  • 5 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5

By Anthony ffrench-Constant

Contributing editor, architect, sentence constructor, amuse bouche

By Anthony ffrench-Constant

Contributing editor, architect, sentence constructor, amuse bouche

As mentioned at the close of my recent Sark-astic experience (see CAR Magazine, August 2010), there’s nothing quite like a drastic downturn in fortune to promote radical re-evaluation.

In the context of my Smart Fortwo Electric Drive on Guernsey, then, I found myself rather less preoccupied with the island’s performance parity inducing blanket 35mph speed limit than the fact that I’d just spent 24 hours being hauled about by a fanatically flatulent horse. After which the comfortable, well equipped and, above all, roofed-in electric Smart Fortwo instantly became, to paraphrase the entirely ghastly Paris Hilton, ‘like soooo totally my New Best Friend yah’.

Smart Fortwo Electric Drive: does it perform?

In truth, I’d have driven the battery powered Smart in England too. But even the relatively handsome quoted range of 83 miles afforded by its pricey lithium-ion battery pack wouldn’t have got me from home to the ferry without a minimum three-hour stop for an 80% recharge. And though pulling up outside the house of a complete stranger to ask for a cup of tea whilst surreptitiously feeding an extension flex through the kitchen window may yet become commonplace, I couldn’t quite conjure the courage at the time and met the greenest Smart yet at the ferry terminal.

With only bile-green go-slower stripes and a change of crab-eye dash top dial use to battery indicator and ammeter giving the game away, the electric Smart Fortwo Electric Drive is actually a kinder steer than its conventional sibling; a single gear ratio replacing the lunge-matic standard auto that’s never been entirely sorted.

Naturally, it’s deafeningly quiet to boot, though not entirely silent thanks to the sounds of a very, very small jet aircraft taxiing about under the loadspace floor.

Is it quick enough?

The go-slower gibe isn’t entirely genuine, since electric motors develop maximum torque from 0rpm and this thing leaves the line like a stabbed rat, thereafter smearing slightly more languidly to 37mph in a quoted 6.5 seconds and on to a governed 62mph. Only thing is, such performance requires the use of a kickdown function which boosts maximum power from 20 to 30 kW for up to two minutes, sending the power reserve meter into a rate of decline on a par with pushing an anvil off a cliff.

More judicious use of the throttle does, however, suggest the electric Smart will happily fulfil the daily needs of most urbanites without recourse to the National Grid. So, if Smart can get the price right when the UK’s 100-car limited lease trial is dusted, arguments against will prove hard to come by.


Indeed, the only thing wrong with the electric Smart is that although the car is tiny, the door itself is so huge you still need plenty of space to get in and out. Perhaps in electrified guise, the Smart Fortwo has come of age.


Price when new: £0
On sale in the UK: 2012
Engine: 30 kW magneto-electric motor powered by 16.5 kWh lithium-ion battery, 27bhp, 89lb ft of torque from 0rpm
Transmission: Single gear ratio, rear-wheel drive
Performance: 0-37mph in 6.5 sec, 62mph (limited), 84 mile maximum range, full recharge in 8 hours, 80% recharge in 3 hours
Weight / material: 890kg
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 2695/1559/1542


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Photo Gallery

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  • Keep an eye on those battery meters. Run out of juice in the electric Smart and you'll be a bit stuck...

By Anthony ffrench-Constant

Contributing editor, architect, sentence constructor, amuse bouche