Review: Smart Fortwo Electric Drive (2006 – 2014)
Good performance and reasonable range for an electric city-only car. Exempt from congestion charge and road tax. Cheap to run.
Initially available as a business lease car only and the monthly rentals are a high £375pm.
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Smart Fortwo Electric Drive (2006 – 2014): At A Glance
With its diminuitive size and proven city car credentials the smart fortwo makes a sensible base for a pure electric vehicle.
The smart ed (electric drive) is powered by a rear mounted 30KW (40bhp) magneto-electric motor which produces 120Nm of torque. Drive is delivered through a single gear ratio to the rear wheels.
A full charge from empty takes eight hours and gives a theoretical range of 84 miles. The Tesla developed battery can be charged from any 220 Volt three -pin socket, providing it has a fuse.
Top-speed is limited to 62mph, so the smart ed isn’t suited to an out-of-town environment.
What does a Smart Fortwo Electric Drive (2006 – 2014) cost?Get a finance quote with CarMoney
Smart Fortwo Electric Drive (2006 – 2014): What's It Like Inside?
The inside of the smart ed is the same as the inside of any other smart, with two seats, and a simple, plain dash and centre stack. Cup holders, electric windows and air-conditioning are standard. The latter is powered by its own battery and so shouldn’t have a severe effect on the cars range.
There’s an additional pod on the top of the dash with a charge meter in it, as well as a readout to tell you how much drain you’re putting on the battery. It also tells you if your battery is gaining charge from any regenerative braking. The charge meter can be swivelled through 90 degrees so you can read it from outside the car, making it easy to see how your charge is progressing without clambering inside.
The cabin is fairly spacious considering the cars size, but is obviously only suitable for two. Boot space is as any other smart, with a split tailgate providing easy access.
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What's the Smart Fortwo Electric Drive (2006 – 2014) like to drive?
The smart ed is very similar on city roads to conventional, internal combustion powered smart cars – it’s fairly nimble and its small size makes it ideal for nipping in and out of tight gaps and through even the narrowest of side streets.
The steering is extremely light, so parking is a piece of cake. It’s also direct, and coupled with the rather stiff suspension set up, immediate torque delivery and short wheelbase the smart ed is actually quite good fun in an urban environment.
However, the stiff suspension also makes the car uncomfortable over rough, potholed roads and speed bumps. It seems strange that a car with a focus on being useful in the city should have such a set up.
The electric motor is quiet and provides plenty of torque, making quick progress to 30mph easy and enjoyable. There’s nothing more than a slight whine from the car is it travels along, which is pleasant for the driver and passenger but not so much for pedestrians, who don’t hear it.
Travelling into areas with a higher speed limit than 40mph would be unwise though. The electric motor and single ratio gearbox might be ideal for busy city streets but the smart ed runs out of puff quite quickly after 30mph, and the limited top speed of 62mph means motorways are absolutely off-limits.
The smart cdi and micro-hybrid both offer impressive fuel economy in the same compact, nimble package, with enough power to work on a motorway. It’s quite likely that the electric smart will cost substantially more than both the cdi and micro-hybrid variants, too.
The eight-hour charge time, restricted top speed and short range mean that when that while the smart ed is quite an enjoyable city drive, unless you’re a serious eco-nut it is unlikely to make financial sense when it is available in late 2012. You’d be better off with a conventionally powered smart.
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