The Smart brand has long struggled to find a niche for its pint-sized Fortwo city car. It may make a better case with the arrival of the next-generation Electric Drive.
All but identical to the latest, gas-powered Smart Fortwo that made its debut last year, the Electric Drive, or ED, will be available in both coupe and cabriolet configurations when it reaches the U.S. market next year.
“The smart is the ideal city car, and with electric drive it becomes a little bit more perfect,” said Annette Winkler, the global Smart brand boss.
When it was first launched, two decades ago, Smart was targeted at youthful urban dwellers who were looking for vehicles that were affordable, efficient and, arguably most important of all, easy to park. The Fortwo certainly nails it when it comes to maneuverability and parking, being small enough to slip into a spot on the typical city street nose-in, while turning a complete circle in less than 23 feet.
It’s by no means the least expensive option for urban motorists, however, nor is the gas Fortwo the most fuel-efficient.
(Tesla sues to sell cars in Michigan. Click Here for details.)
The Smart ED does score when it comes to fuel costs, however. And it will earn a buyer both federal and, where applicable, state credits for zero-emission vehicles.
This is no Tesla Model 3 fighter. The driveline is as downsized as the Smart Fortwo itself. Its three-phase synchronous motor, powered by a 17.6 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery, spins out 80 horsepower and 118 pound-feet of torque. Surprisingly, the numbers that Smart quotes indicate the 2017 makeover will actually be slower than the previous version of the ED, taking 11.4 seconds for the coupe to hit 60, and 11.7 seconds for the cabriolet. Top speed is governed at 81 mph.
Range gets a bump, however, Smart projecting 99 miles before you absolutely must plug in again with the hardtop, 96 with the convertible. (Those are based on the European cycle, however, and the numbers almost certainly will dip when the EPA finishes its own testing.)
Equally good news: charging times have been cut by more than half if you’ve access to a 240 volt system dropping from 5.5 to 2.5 hours. On a standard household 110V outlet, however, it will take you a full 22 hours to top the battery off.
(Chevy prices new Bolt EV at under $30k with tax credits. For more, Click Here.)
A driver will have the option to switch to ECO mode to maximize range, albeit at the expense of performance.
The Smart Fortwo ED will be paired with a smartphone app, meanwhile, that will allow an owner to remotely access information like the battery’s state of charge, while also controlling such things as when to begin charging, and setting up cabin pre-conditioning. That can be used to warm the cabin in winter or cool it in summer while the ED is still hooked up to a charger, reducing the initial battery drain.
Visually, beyond the badges, you might not know this is a battery version of the latest Fortwo – unless you opt for the Electric Drive design package, with its eye-popping green paint accents. Inside, there’s a new gauge to monitor the electric powertrain.
(To see more about the Chevy Bolt topping the Tesla Model 3 for range, Click Here.)
The fourth-generation Smart Fortwo Electric Drive will make its public debut at the Paris Motor Show next week. Look for the coupe to arrive in U.S. showrooms next spring, the cabrio over the summer. While no pricing has been announced, expect something in the mid-$20,000 range.