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Smart ForTwo Electric Drive (2017) review

Published:21 February 2017

Smart ForTwo Electric Drive (2017) review
  • At a glance
  • 3 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 5 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5

By Adam Binnie

Contributor and new cars editor on our sister website Parkers.co.uk

By Adam Binnie

Contributor and new cars editor on our sister website Parkers.co.uk

Smart EV with 100 mile claimed range
ForTwo has 80bhp and 118lb ft from 0rpm
80% charge in as little as 2.5 hours

Believe it or not this is the fourth generation of electric Smart ForTwo, the first hitting the streets of London in 2007.

Back then it was a bit of a novelty, offering decent enough range and performance, although neither threatened conventionally powered cars. It was fine for short trips on congested roads, but not much else.

Now however, the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive, with its lithium-ion battery good for a claimed 100 miles and a punchy 80bhp a mere ankle flex away, feels like a real contender.

Click here to read CAR's review of the 2007 Smart ForTwo Electric Drive

Smart ForTwo Electric Drive 2017

Sounds like a mini Tesla…

The rechargeable Smart offers a similar level of usability and lack of compromise as Tesla’s finest. You just get in it and go as you would any other ForTwo.

It’s also an ideal platform for electrification – with very little mass to move around and convenient packaging allowing the battery pack to be stashed under the floor where it doesn’t impact on practicality.

City roads also provide the ultimate playground for electric cars – journeys are often short and punctuated with stop start traffic, plus there are plenty of places to plug yourself in.

Is the performance on par with a milk float?

Certainly not; in fact from 0-62mph the ForTwo Electric Drive is only the second slowest powertrain in the range. That might sound underwhelming but it means the plug-in car no longer comes with such a performance compromise – it’s actually faster than the base petrol.

It’s also worth considering that from 0-30mph the battery car feels extremely fast, with 80bhp and 118lbs ft of torque available from a standstill. It’s only at higher speeds that the ForTwo starts to slow, and when do you ever sprint to 60mph in the city?

Furthermore there are no gears to worry about (the ForTwo uses a single speed like most electric cars) so acceleration is instant, smooth and quiet up to its limited top speed of 81mph.

Will I have to charge it all the time?

Sadly electric car range is still more iPhone than Nokia 3210 but this latest generation boasts a best-ever distance of 100 miles on a charge. Naturally this takes a nose dive if you pin the throttle everywhere while simultaneously running the air conditioning and seat heater on full blast.

From there you’ll need to access a three-pin domestic socket for at least six hours, or a special wallbox for 2.5 hours in order to get to an 80% charge.

Wait until next year and a ForTwo featuring a burlier 22kW charger will reduce this time to 45 minutes. From launch, cars will feature a 7.2kW charger and there’s no way to upgrade to the more powerful one, so hold out if you plan to use fast-charging regularly.

While connected to the mains you can use a special app to time your FourTwo’s charge around cheaper electricity periods and even pre-warm or cool the car for you to save overuse of the air conditioner when you get going.

Smart ForTwo Electric Drive 2017

I’m waiting for the catch here…

To be honest after a day’s driving so were we. The FourTwo Electric Drive (or ForFour for that matter, available as an EV too) is actually a nicer overall experience than the petrol version, and comes with the happy bonus of zero tailpipe emissions.

The battery is tucked away under the car so there is no difference to either interior or luggage room – there is still a wealth of head and legroom for both occupants and up to 350 litres of bootspace. The ForTwo’s big selling-point – its class-leading 6.95-metre turning circle – is unaffected by electrification, too.

The three standard trim levels (Passion, Proxy and Prime) are unchanged, unless you count the special dashboard mounted power meter, and you can even spice one up with a Brabus bodykit.

From our perspective the only potential stinger is the price – this hasn’t been announced in the UK yet, but European buyers will pay €21,940 (more than £18,500 at the time of writing). Considerable wonga for what is unlikely to be a main car for most buyers.

Verdict

Few cars we’ve driven feel so utterly fit for purpose as the Smart ForTwo and the addition of a genuinely usable electric drivetrain only amplifies its city suitability further.

Longer trips on faster roads will see the battery life deplete considerably quicker than around town so it’s worth considering that before you get to the Smart showroom.

As a train station hack or urban road warrior the ForTwo Electric Drive is a compelling ally.

Specs

Price when new: £0
On sale in the UK: spring 2017
Engine: Three-phase synchronous electric motor, 80bhp, 118lb ft from 0rpm
Transmission: Single speed, rear-wheel drive
Performance: 11.5sec 0-62mph, 81mph (limited), 129wh/km, 0g/km CO2
Weight / material: 1085kg/steel and aluminium
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 2695/1663/1555

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  • Smart ForTwo Electric Drive (2017) review
  • Smart ForTwo Electric Drive (2017) review
  • Smart ForTwo Electric Drive (2017) review
  • Smart ForTwo Electric Drive (2017) review
  • Smart ForTwo Electric Drive (2017) review
  • Smart ForTwo Electric Drive (2017) review
  • Smart ForTwo Electric Drive (2017) review
  • Smart ForTwo Electric Drive (2017) review
  • Smart ForTwo Electric Drive (2017) review

By Adam Binnie

Contributor and new cars editor on our sister website Parkers.co.uk

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