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.
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.