The exterior of the new Smart EQ trio, described as “radically simple” by Daimler design boss Gorden Wagener, is evolutionary. The grille has been lowered and made larger, albeit with much of the surface area blanked off, because EVs require less air cooling.
For the first time, the Fortwo and Forfour have different front-end looks, with Smart giving the four-seater a more “dynamic” profile than the “familiar friendly face” of the Fortwo. New tail-light designs also feature, while full LED headlights are optional, as are variety of colour combinations.
A revised centre console inside brings a new compartment in front of the drive selector to accommodate smartphones or two removable cupholders. More significantly, a new, simplified infotainment system offers better smartphone and wearable tech compatibility at the expense of some on-board functions, making greater use of a devices own apps and immediately introducing new apps or features when the customers downloads them or upgrades their phone. There’s also a redesigned smartphone app that displays the car’s level of charge and allows pre-entry climate control to be programmed.
One thing hasn’t changed much, however, and that’s the urban-focused electric powertrain. As with the outgoing EQ models, a rear-mounted motor makes peak outputs of 80bhp and 118lb ft of torque, allowing a 0-37mph time of 4.8sec (4.9sec for the Cabrio and 5.2sec for the Forfour) and a 0-62mph time of 11.6sec (11.9sec for the Cabrio and 12.7 for the Forfour). The top speed is 81mph for all models.
The motor is fed by a compact 17.6kWh battery, allowing a claimed range of "around 70 miles" - significantly less than most EV rivals. Smart claims this is still “several times” the average daily distance driven in Germany, however, and the small battery size and weight means less packaging and dynamic compromises.
New features such as radar-based kinetic recuperation, which allows the car to slow down automatically behind the vehicle ahead in the ideal way to charge the battery, also help extend the range.
The other benefit of the small battery is charging times. Even a standard domestic socket can charge an EQ model in just over three and a half hours, while an optional 22kW on-board charger can take the range from 10% to 80% in 40 minutes. There's still no DC rapid-charging capability, but Smart is cooperating with network partner Plugsurfing, which claims to allow easy access to almost all public charging points via its app.
Prices for the new Smart range have yet to be announced, but we don’t expect them to stray too far from the outgoing model’s base price, given the lack of any powertrain upgrades.