Smart ForTwo Electric Drive

29 Oct, 2012 4:45pm Damion Smy

We get behind the wheel of the Smart Electric on UK roads for the first time

Verdict

3
In theory, the ForTwo makes a perfect electric car. It’s small and manoeuvrable, and has the same zippy handling as the petrol car. It’s a shame a fast-charging point costs so much more on top, but the Smart’s main problem is the Renault ZOE, which seats four, offers a much bigger boot and will cost roughly the same when it goes on sale later this year.

We’ve already had a short drive in the Smart ForTwo Electric in Germany, but this is our first go in the zero-emission two-seater on British roads. 

Smart isn’t new to electric power, with this being the third-generation ForTwo EV. But it’s the first you can actually buy.

Driveability, charge times and range have all been improved from previous cars, and power is up from 47bhp to 74bhp.

A lower gear ratio makes the Smart quicker off the mark, and the 0-38mph time – a far more useful benchmark than 0-62mph for urban commuters – has fallen from 6.5 to 4.8 seconds.

Floor the responsive throttle, and there’s a noise like a jet plane winding up for take-off as you rocket away from a standing start. And with just a single gear ratio, there’s no jerkiness.

The brakes feel artificial, which makes them difficult to modulate, and there’s a fair amount of tyre and wind noise, despite more sound insulation in the doors and firewall.

Still, the ride is surprisingly good around town, considering that the Smart Electric rides on relatively large 15-inch alloys and has such a short wheelbase. Getting comfortable behind the wheel isn’t easy, though, as the seating position is much too high.

The new Smart can travel 90 miles between charges – that’s six miles further than before. A full charge from a three-pin socket takes seven hours – down from eight hours.

A wall-mounted box costing around £570 can reduce that time still further, to six hours. There’s also a quick-charge unit that gives a 75 per cent charge (a range of 72 miles) in a single hour, but this costs around £1,625 to have fitted.

Disqus - noscript

Can't wait, bring it on. Had to get rid of my old Smart last year and miss it so much. This will be an ideal replacement. You can keep your silly Zoe and Twizzy.

Since when did the smart have an adjustable steering column? All three of my smarts have never had it and I really don't think the ED has it either. Come on AE, pay attention!!

One thing not mentioned is that whilst the Zoe is the same initial cost there is a monthly battery lease to cover as well (as with all other Renault ZE cars). The Smart will be cheaper by far.

In the long run more expensive to run than the CDi smart. It's £4000 more expensive to purchase, and on one tank of diesel will do 400 miles, not 90 and then go flat!

Key specs

  • Price: £14,000 (est)
  • Engine: Electric motor, 74bhp
  • Transmission: Single-speed, rear-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph/Top speed: 11.5 secs/75mph
  • Range: 90 miles
  • Charge time: Seven hours (240V)
  • Equipment: Electric windows, ABS, ESP, charging cord, CD stereo
  • On sale: Spring 2013
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