RAC Cars News


Smart Fortwo ED Is Pretty Smart

By raccars Published

Smart is one of those names that is subject to a certain amount of brand snobbery. It came upon the auto scene with a quite reasonable premise but was quickly deemed unsuitable for true driving enthusiasts. However with the increasing pressure on reducing emissions, never has the Smart seemed a more useful or necessary car – particularly now, in its new, all electric format. While previous versions of the Smart Fortwo ED have seen limited corporate release, it has now been launched upon an unsuspecting public.

One of the problems with the earlier, non-electric Smart Fortwo's reputation is that for a supposedly economical car, it was very, well, uneconomical. Not just for a car of its class, but in comparison to larger and more powerful vehicles. An electric powertrain seems set to change all that, with a 74bhp motor that drives the rear wheels with a single speed transmission. At 11.5 seconds to 60mph, the Smart Fortwo ED is more than a second faster than its combustion engine equivalent and will keep going to a top speed of 78mph. That's pretty useless for long-distance, motorway motoring of course, but perfectly adequate for a city car.

The miniature runaround is eerily quiet as is an electric vehicles' wont, apart from a gentle, low speed noise generator to protect unwary pedestrians from missing its stealthy approach. The car's electric motor has added a fair amount of weight but has actually worked in its favour, improving cornering stability. However the ride is still far from luxury quality, especially at lower speeds.

The ED's range is given officially as 87 miles in return for a seven hour charge time. However that maximum is practically impossible to reach in real terms, as using any electrical equipment such as the stereo, lights, heater, or faster and even cold weather driving, reduce the range. With that single speed transmission that removes any need to change gear and tiny size, it is very practical in urban environments, yet perky enough to keep up with the crowd on short runs on the dual carriageway.

The cabin offers user-friendly controls and a boot comparable to the Fiat Panda, in addition to wide doors for easy access. Equipment levels are generous, with air-con, touchscreen satellite navigation and Bluetooth connectivity on all models and cruise control, leather trim details and heated seats available as options. Unfortunately, there is no height-adjustment feature to either the steering wheel or driver's seat.

The Smart Fortwo is the ideal vehicle for electric drive technology and makes a very practical urban warrior, but ultimately true driving enthusiasts will remain unimpressed.

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