2014 Smart fortwo electric drive

The fortwo electric drive is an all-electric variant of smart's diminutive fortwo city car. Offered in coupe and cabriolet forms, it makes few sacrifices in terms of space and performance compared to the gas-powered model.

The fortwo electric drive (smart eschews capitol letters in its nomenclature) is motivated by a 55-kilowatt electric motor that draws power from a 16.7-kwh lithium-ion battery pack. With 95 lb-ft of torque, the car is acceptably quick at city speeds, and its zero-to-60 mph time of 11.5 seconds is essentially on par with that of the conventional fortwo.

Total driving range is 90 miles, and the battery can be fully recharged in six to seven hours when plugged into a standard domestic socket. For faster charging, a 440-volt quick charger does the deed in under an hour.

With the battery located beneath the floor, the fortwo electric drive doesn't lose any interior space due to its all-electric drivetrain. The cabin is fairly large given the abbreviated 8.8-foot overall length, with ample leg and headroom for the driver and passenger and unique offset seat positioning that puts the passenger six inches behind the driver for extra shoulder space. Though somewhat spartan, the interior features quality materials, a well laid-out dashboard and intuitive controls. Green accents are available for those who wish to accentuate the car's environmental credentials.

Given its nanoscale exterior dimensions, the car's eight cubic feet of trunk space (or twelve if cargo is stacked up to the ceiling) is impressive.

Outside, smart connoisseurs can recognize the EV runabout by its unique front grille with an inset "electric drive" logo. LED running lights and 9-spoke alloy wheels are also electric drive-specific touches.

As with the standard model, the fortwo electric drive is most at home in the city, where the ample torque of its electric motor helps it zip through traffic and its relatively short range isn't a big issue. It's much less happy on the highway, where it runs out of electricity in roughly 90 minutes and its small weight and wheelbase make it a bit darty and susceptible to crosswinds.

Standard and Optional Features
Standard features include automatic climate control, power steering, power windows, a basic audio system and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Customers can also choose to outfit the car with options such as a navigaion system and a sporty three-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel.

smart also offers a smartphone app that allows the driver to pre-heat or pre-cool the interior.

Occupant Safety
With full-size SUVs, enormous pickups and gargantuan 18-wheelers roaming the roads, smart knew that it had take special care in ensuring that the fortwo would protect its occupants in event of a collision. The car was designed from the outset with safety in mind and features a reinforced high-strength steel tridion safety cell, dual front, side, side-curtain and knee-bolster airbags, traction and stability control systems and ABS with electronic brakeforce distribution.

Key Competitors
As the electric vehicle market is still in its infancy, the fortwo electric drive doesn't have any similarly sized rivals. Buyers could conceivably cross-shop larger, more expensive EVs like the Mitsubishi i and the Nissan Leaf, both of which offer greater cargo and passenger capacities but shorter driving ranges than the smart.