- Smart Fortwo Electric Drive promises 100-mile range
- Battery powered city car produces 81hp from 0rpm
- Charges up to 80% in as little as two and a half hours
There are few places that electric car ownership makes more sense than the inner city, where journeys are usually short and traffic ridden, and the density of charging points is relatively high.
City-car maker Smart was an early adopter of the technology 10 years ago, and the current battery-powered Fortwo is now in its fourth generation.
This development time should give this latest iteration the edge over newer rivals like the VW E-Up, Renault Twizy and even the much larger Nissan Leaf.
Why not just get the petrol Fortwo?
There are several reasons why an electric Smart is more desirable than any of the three petrol-powered Fortwo models. For a start, its 81hp and 160Nm of torque are available from a standstill, making for lightning-fast traffic light getaways and lane changes.
There is also only one gear, making the Electric Drive Fortwo considerably quieter and less taxing to drive than a manual or even multi-geared automatic car, which still relies on a relatively narrow band of power from its turbocharged motor.
The conventionally engined cars claw back a bit of a lead at higher speeds though, where the Fortwo Electric Drive’s power delivery isn’t quite as punchy. As such all but the least powerful petrol car will beat this Smart’s 0-62mph time of 11.5 seconds.
That said, we thought the battery-powered Fortwo was more than adequate when joining faster roads and going on to a top speed of 81mph, which is capped to help preserve charge.
How long does the battery last in the Smart Fortwo?
Smart says you can get 100 miles between charges, but obviously this varies depending on how you drive and various other factors such as exterior temperature and if you’ve got the air conditioning on full blast.
A depleted battery will need six hours to charge to 80% from a normal domestic socket, or two and a half hours from a professionally installed wallbox. From 2018 a version featuring a 22kW charger will reduce this time to 45 minutes – worth bearing in mind if you plan to buy a Fortwo Electric Drive as soon as it comes out.
Once plugged in you can use a special app to ensure the Fortwo charges while electricity is at its cheapest, and even programme the air conditioning to warm or cool the car using juice from the grid, to preserve battery life on the move.
Is the boot now full of batteries?
Quite often with hybrid or all-electric cars practicality is compromised by the need to house a big, bulky battery somewhere.
Smart gets around this by hiding it under the body, in the centre of the car, so there is no difference to either interior or luggage space.
You still get loads of head and legroom for two people despite the diminutive size of the Fortwo, and up to 350-litres of bootspace.
Best of all, the hilarious 6.95 metre turning circle remains, meaning you can perform a full 360 degrees in all but the narrowest of streets.
What equipment do you get in the Fortwo?
The three standard trim levels remain (called Passion, Proxy and Prime) but with the electric car you get a special dashboard-mounted power meter.
A heated steering wheel is an option, plus an Electric Drive styling pack which adds green paint to the Tridion safety cell and door mirrors.
We were really taken by the Smart Fortwo Electric Drive and given the choice for inner-city travel, we’d pick this version over the petrol variants.
It’s worth considering those if you plan to use faster roads as higher speeds deplete the battery quickly, however.
For navigating traffic jams in relaxing silence, with a big boost of torque always available from the smallest flex of your right foot though, the battery powered car makes a lot of sense.