From £9,220

Electric power suits this perky Smart, which works well as city wheels. And with a £5000 government subsidy it’s well-priced, too

Our Verdict

Smart Fortwo 2007-2014
The design of the ForTwo stretches back to the Eco Sprinter and Eco Speedster concepts of 1993

The Smart Fortwo is a unique proposition. Its emotional appeal is unquestionable and it is one of the most novel and innovative cars available.

  • First Drive

    Smart Fortwo Electric Drive

    
Electric power suits this perky Smart, which works well as city wheels. And with a £5000 government subsidy it’s well-priced, too
  • First Drive

    Smart Fortwo Brabus

    Hot hatch looks for refreshed Fortwo city car, but it’s still a case of style over substance

What is it?

Electric Smart Fortwos first appeared in 2007 and have undergone two development phases so far, yet there’s been no showroom version of a car almost begging for electric propulsion.

But after five years of testing with over 2000 cars, most loaned to real-world users, Smart is ready to sell a Fortwo EV in this third, upgraded iteration. 

It is performance that improves most, as demonstrated by a 0-62mph time that falls from a sleepy 26.7sec to a sparky 11.5sec.

What's it like?

You certainly feel the difference, the Fortwo tearing away with enough zeal to excite when you’re darting along urban tributaries. 

User feedback also prompted improved motorway performance and speedier charging, while the discovery that drivers averaged 25 miles daily lead to no more than a modest six mile range gain to 90 miles. 

The extra power comes from a new motor developed under a Daimler-Bosch joint venture called EM-motive, rising dramatically from 40bhp to 74bhp while torque swells to 96lb ft from 89lb ft. 

Although Smart was happy with the Zytek collaboration that produced earlier electric Fortwos incidentally, the UK company doesn’t manufacture in high volumes. The nickel-cobalt-manganese lithium-ion battery charges in seven hours rather than eight from a domestic socket, and can now be fast-charged in an hour.

Driving this Smart is blissfully easy and pleasingly free of the faltering gearchanges that afflict piston-powered Fortwos. Sinking the throttle produces surprising thrust, and it’s no less eager when you’re rolling along at 30-50mph and need a burst of go. 

Motorways are less stressful now that it tops 78mph rather than 62mph, although they’re not its favoured habitat. 

Drawbacks? The ride can get choppy and the £52 monthly battery lease price seems steep.

 

Should I buy one?

But if you can score a £5000 government subsidy, you’ll be paying £10k for a chic, entertaining and practical zero-emission city car that battery fees apart, will cost little to run. 

True, you can have a Yaris hybrid that puts out similar emissions on a well-to-wheel basis, that’s speedily refuelled and seats four, but this electric Smart is the most credible pure electric yet.

Smart Fortwo Electric Drive

Price: £15,300 est; 0-62mph: 11.5sec; Top speed: 78mph; Economy: NA; C02: Zero; Recharge time, standard domestic supply: 7 hours; Range: 90 miles; Kerbweight: 900kg; Engine: Electric; Power: 74bhp max, 47bhp continuous; Torque: 96lb ft; Gearbox: Single speed

Join the debate

Comments
11

14 June 2012

This battery lease rubbish is holding certain cars back.

What happens if you sell the car, do you have to take the battery out and give that back to Smart, or do you make sure the person who buys it gives their real address and carries on paying the lease charge.

GM, Toyota, Honda, Mercedes, BMW, Telsa, Nissan etc don't do it so why should Renault and Smart

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

14 June 2012

Smart are giving the customer the choice pay £15K and buy the car and battery or pay £11.5K and lease the battery.    Given the potential cost for a replacement battery, I would choose leasing.     To me this is the most convincing Smart to date  as long as you accept it as a city only vehicle. The compact dimensions add to its appeal for city dwellers.  It also avoids the horrible transmission of the petrol/ diesel models! 

14 June 2012

Harry P wrote:

Smart are giving the customer the choice pay £15K and buy the car and battery or pay £11.5K and lease the battery.    Given the potential cost for a replacement battery, I would choose leasing.    

As you'd choose the lease option what would happen when you want to sell it ??

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

15 June 2012

I am sure Smart and Renault will sort the issues of transferring a lease for the batteries as and when a vehicle is sold.  The main issue at the moment is, can Smart really sell the vehicle for £11.5K minus battery ?? If they can I am sure they will have a winning product.

14 June 2012

Just a few days ago, Autocar carried a news story suggesting that the Fortwo Coupe would cost just over £15,000 in Germany, with the battery extra. The Cabrio featured here was listed at 22,000 euros (£17,637). I'd be very surprised if these prices were held for the UK, given the likely cost of producing a right hand drive variant in lowish volume. Also does this car really qualify for a £5000 grant in the UK - I thought that the government merely waived the VAT which, in this case would amount to something a lot less than a £5k discount.

If indeed this car is available for £10,000, then perhaps for the first time an electric car might start to make sense for some people. Certainly it makes a bit more sense than a doorless Renault Twizzy!

14 June 2012

LP in Brighton says it all ... Are we REALLY expected to believe that we can get an electric Smart for £10K in THIS country?? ... It certainly WONT be a cabriolet version, that's for sure!!

If this IS the right price, then Smart may as well stop producing the petrol and deisel versions because no one will buy them ...

That said, the £52 a month "battery lease" still makes the argument  for electricity being the way forward moot ... And who would want to chance taking an electric Smart on a motorway if the maximum range is only 90 miles?? ...

In my view, the only good thing about this Smart is the fact its  Achilles's heel (the jerky transmission) is dropped ... 

 

15 June 2012

One thing that many British testers seem to miss with electrically powered vehicles is the ability to increase range with use. Thanks to regenerative braking systems, it is possible to extended the range in urban stop start conditions, something impossible in fuel burning vehicles. As many studies have shown, range is not really an issue for most users, 60% of US Volt users never add fuel to their vehicles. GM have even programmed occasional engine firings to keep the engine from seizing up. Yes by and large electros are limited to city use but there are many people who only use cars their cars in this way. My ideal would be a lease arrangement that buys miles rather than a specific vehicle. I buy 10 k miles a year and swap as needed between an urban electro such as a Fluence and an out of town car such as a Megane.

15 June 2012

I'm really pleased they managed to price this right. Seems to be a better prospect than a twizy for not much more 

15 June 2012

Lurve it ... but not with lurid green stripes. Thank you.

Now that BMW has entered the EV market in a hard dramatic, high energy way, you can bet your last Duracell battery EVs are here to stay...

19 June 2012

The government subsidy is 25% up to a max of £5k, so the price might not be that low. If it is, bargain. I'm very interested in getting one.

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Lamborghini Aventador S
    First Drive
    21 January 2017
    Is an upgrade to 730bhp and the addition of four-wheel steering enough to realise the Aventador's potential?
  • Ford Focus RS Mountune FPM375
    First Drive
    20 January 2017
    Does an official Mountune upgrade of 25bhp and 30lb ft, improve the already rampant and rather magnificent Ford Focus RS?
  • Audi S5 Sportback
    First Drive
    19 January 2017
    The Audi S5 Sportback is more bruising GT than practical sports car, but it makes sense for those wanting a fast executive saloon in coupé get-up
  • First Drive
    18 January 2017
    Despite receiving a cosmetic and mechanical refresh, Lexus's compact executive saloon still fails to provide much driving involvement
  • 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 5h review
    First Drive
    18 January 2017
    Big-selling plug-in SUV gets a light refresh in the face of new challengers to offer decent economy but only average driving dynamics