The Fortwo Cabriolet ED is a much more pleasant car to drive and spend time in than its predecessor. It’s also a more engaging proposition than its regular petrol-powered sister.
Its larger dimensions give it a roomier interior - in fact, it's a considerable 110mm wider than before. The design of the dashboard is easier on the eye and the materials used inside are also of a higher quality. There’s also a fully integrated TomTom infotainment system with a 7.0in touchscreen, as well as larger door pockets and cubbyholes for better oddment storage.
There’s a straightforward jump-in-and-go simplicity to driving the Fortwo Cabriolet Electric Drive that should win it appeal, both as private transport and on short-term lease schemes such as Mercedes-Benz’s own Car2Go.
A new electronic management system provides finer throttle adjustment than with the old model. A good portion of torque is never far away; an earnest nudge on the accelerator gets the rear end settled on its springs and the nose raised, as the new electric motor propels the car down the road with a good turn of speed.
The operation of the electric motor is terrifically smooth, quiet and seamless. While not packed with power, it manages to provide the Fortwo Cabriolet ED with great response and strong acceleration from a standstill, making if a far more engaging choice than the petrol-powered version of the Smart open-top.
The way it flings itself up to 40mph with all the vigour of a high-powered hot hatch is part-and-parcel of its appeal, providing it with nippy qualities, both away from the lights and on the run. Subjectively, it feels quicker than its official 0-62mph time of 11.8sec suggests.
If you’re willing to forgo some of the performance for ultimate range, there’s Eco mode. Activated by a press of a button next to the gear selector within the centre console, it adjusts the mapping of the throttle, caps the power of the electric motor and limits top speed.
There’s also a braking effect on a trailing throttle as electric energy is recuperated on the overrun and stored in the battery. This employs a clever radar sensor to provide anticipatory operation, continuously monitoring the traffic conditions and setting the energy recuperation level as well as the amount of braking effect as is fit.
Having its battery low down gives the Fortwo Cabriolet ED a lower centre of gravity than its petrol-engine siblings. It also has firmer springs and dampers. As a result, its body movements are better controlled and its ride is more settled, particularly at lower speeds, although the steering is exceedingly light and lacking in any real feedback.
Overall, it feels more mature to drive than its predecessor, with greater compliance within the chassis and improved rolling refinement.
The clincher, though, is its overall manoeuvrability, which really has to be sampled to be believed. With a length of just 2695mm and the smallest turning circle of any current series production car at 6.95m, the Fortwo Cabriolet ED runs rings around all of its rivals for sheer agility in a city driving environment.
Further appeal comes with the automatically operated cloth roof. It retracts back and stows in a position above the luggage compartment at the press of a button. For true open-top motoring, the header rails can also be detached.