Smart ForTwo EV

Latest all-electric city car hits the road - and this time it's available to be leased to the public.

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

His latest EV represents the second phase of Smart’s electric masterplan, and it already feels like a polished product. Phase three begins in 2012, when the car begins full production alongside the petrol and diesel versions. It will feel familiar to current Smart owners, but the instant torque and single-ratio gearbox mean the EV is easier to drive.

From the family-sized Leaf to the Smart ForTwo EV, electric cars come in all shapes and sizes these days! The second-generation all-electric machine now benefits from a facelift, improved performance and longer life lithium-ion batteries.

The first ForTwo EV was only available for corporate users, but this time the car can be leased by the public. A total of 1,500 models will be available on a 12-month trial basis in Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, Spain and the US, with 100 cars earmarked for the UK.

Under the driver’s seat is a new lithium-ion battery pack supplied by sports car firm Tesla, but don’t expect racy performance. The rear-mounted electric motor produces 30kW (41bhp) – enough to glide from 0-38mph in 6.5 seconds and on to a limited top speed of 60mph – making the EV strictly a city-based runaround.

About 140kg has been added to the 750kg kerbweight, but from behind the wheel, you would be hard pushed to tell. Peak torque of 120Nm might not sound much, but as it’s all available from idle, you’ll always be the first away from the lights.

The standard car’s jerky automated manual gearbox is replaced by a single-speed unit, and this improves the driving experience significantly,  making the ForTwo as simple to use as a golf buggy. Any downsides? The brake pedal is stiff and the lack of a raspy exhaust note amplifies road noise and the cabin’s rattles and squeaks.

Charging the batteries from 20 to 80 per cent of their capacity takes three-and-a-half hours from a household socket, or from flat to full in eight hours. Smart claims the batteries will offer maintenance-free motoring for up to 10 years and deliver a range of 84 miles per charge – 10 miles further than the first-generation car.

Rival: Renault Twizy Half scooter, half car – the Twizy offers a new approach to urban mobility. It has a 60-mile range and could cost as little as £4,000 when it arrives in 2012.

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