Smart Fortwo Electric Drive review
Smart's electric offering gains range and shortens charging, but still not sold in Ireland...
Kyle Fortune
Kyle Fortune

Published on November 29, 2016

Smart is to offer its Fortwo, Forfour and Cabrio in plug-in Electric Drive form. The battery technology has improved with this new introduction, meaning faster charging and a slight increase in range. Shame Smart doesn't have a sales operation in Ireland, though.

In the metal

It's a Smart, so forget bold and thrusting and embrace your softer side - it would be a heavy-hearted person who'll see a Smart Fortwo and not smile. It's all pretty familiar, as the Smart is hardly new now, though in the current generation it's still fresh, which, is perfect in the city car segment - if you're going to be sat in a traffic jam you might as well be somewhere bright and, dare we say it, fun. There's little different inside to highlight the Electric Drive's plug-in propulsion, the only hints being the power meter in place of a conventional rev counter and a battery icon where there'd be a little fuel pump on the levels gauge. There's a bit more EV-specific functionality in the in-car entertainment and trip computer, but strange, green-heart warming graphs aside, it's all fairly ordinary, at least as ordinary as any other Smart - so pretty wacky, really.

Driving it

Key changes over the old plug-in Smart are a marginal increase in range and a quicker charging time. The now 160km potential range is enough, as really you wouldn't want to drive a Smart further - any Smart, that is, not just an electric one. It's a town car, and, perfectly fit for purpose, arguably more so with a 17.6kWh lithium-ion battery and 81hp electric motor. There's no gearbox, as such, the single-speed automatic transmission taking care of everything, removing the one failing of the conventionally powered automatic Smart in the process, which are the slovenly gearshifts. That, and the initial step-off performance thanks to the instant torque, make the Smart Electric Drive highly amusing in city traffic, where it'll scorch off at traffic lights with mirth-inducing pace, that speed adding to the Smart's effectiveness in its natural city environment.

Otherwise it's all familiar Smart Fortwo, so there's a slightly bouncy, though not uncomfortable, ride, and steering that's tight enough to pirouette around a manhole cover, even if the feel at the rim is very artificial. Range anxiety shouldn't be an issue in ordinary town use, and there's always that more rapid charging if you do go a bit further, as a new fast charger allows up to 80 per cent charge in 45 minutes. Smart's claim of 160km is, like any electric car stats, optimistic, though in the heat of Miami, using the air conditioning and running a lot of miles on the freeway we achieved a relatively easy 100km round trip, with 20km range remaining. A bit more planning, less air conditioning use and use of the Eco mode (softening the throttle response) should improve that further.

What you get for your money

Not that it's relevant to the Irish market, as Smart is not officially represented here, but prices have not been announced for the UK either. The Electric Drive will sit at the top of the range. It won't just be a Fortwo, either, as the Smart Forfour is to offered with the same powertrain, as is the Cabrio.


Here we have an optimised Smart, and arguably the powertrain that suits it the most. A city car, it excels in traffic, the electric motor adding to its effectiveness, the range it offers not being an issue within the intended boundaries of its use. If you're in town it makes a lot of sense then, and should brighten up your day, too. Shame it's not sold in Ireland.


Tech Specs

Model testedSmart Fortwo Electric Drive
Pricingnot sold in Ireland
Engineelectric motor
Transmissionsingle-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Body styletwo-seat city car
CO2 emissions0g/km (Band A0, €120 per annum)
Rangeup to 160 kilometres
Top speed128km/h (limited)
0-100km/h11.5 seconds
Boot space360 litres
EuroNCAP rating
Rivals to the Smart Fortwo