Smart ForTwo Electric Drive Mini Car (2014 Model Review)

Written By: EightySix

Edited By: Assen Gueorguiev

2014 smart ForTwo electric drive: what the smart was meant to be

2014 Smart ForTwo All-Electric

Something about an electric motor in a smart ForTwo just seems right. Look at it. It's like nothing on the road. It's as long as a normal car is wide with no thought of a back seat. It was never meant to have an ordinary engine.

With barely enough power for city driving, no one liked the gas or diesel power-plants anyway. The five-speed automated-manual transmission was known for shifting too early and too slow. The EPA estimated 38/34 fuel economy wasn't amazing for such a dinky ride, either. It was wobbly in the corners with too much body roll.

Dump the Pump

The electric drive ditches some of the fossil-fuel engine problems. With its single gear transmission and instant EV torque, it's actually zippy. The awkward shifting is gone. It gets to sixty miles per hour in just over eleven seconds and tops out at 78 mph. It even has a boost option for when you really need to get froggy. Be careful with that addiction. It gobbles up the charge.

The 55 kilowatt motor powers the rear wheels and sits in the back where the 3 cylinder used to. The Tesla-supplied 17.6 kWh lithium-ion battery pack is sandwiched into the floor. The weight is therefore carried lower in the car, making it more stable while cornering.

The smart's range is approximately 87 miles, depending on how often you punch the boost. That sits side-by-side with the Fiat 500e and the Nissan Leaf. That's a lot more range than the Mitsubishi i-MiEV's 62 miles.

Oh yeah. It also comes in a cabriolet version, making it the world's only available electric convertible.

2014 Smart ForTwo All-Electric

The Electric Drive's 3 Parents

In the late 1980s, the Swiss watchmakers responsible for Swatch were interested in building an efficient and personal city car. After shopping the idea to BMW, Fiat, General Motors and Renault, eventually Daimler-Benz AG decided to build their prototypes. The first models of the City-Coupe were sold in 1998.

The Swatch influence is obvious in the quirky euro-mobile. The Mercedes effect lies deeper. The ForTwo's size may terrify drivers sharing the road with SUVs triple the weight, but its safety ratings are quite high. Daimler takes pride in the Tridion Safety Cell at the ForTwo's heart. It is designed by top Mercedes engineers to be remarkably rigid and crumple-resistant.

The Electric Drive's marriage with Tesla continues to prove that in the world of electric cars, there are things awesome and there are things not made by Tesla. The skateboard-style chassis with the battery incorporated in the floor has become a Tesla staple since quitting the original Lotus chassis from the first Roadsters.

What's in the Future?

The ForTwo will get a remodel for 2016. Gas versions are expected to be released first. The old transmission will be replaced with a five-speed, dual-clutch manual. Diesel is out. The new electric drive is expected to be the quickest version in the family and hit the market later on in 2015.

It will be 100 millimeters wider for greater stability. Crosswind Assist will help the tall vehicle handle gustiness. The system will sense wind and counter it by braking individual wheels.

Smart has been working together with Renault on a new version of the four-door, four-seat "ForFour" based on Renault's Twingo. The "ForMore" SUV never made it to production.

Will it Change the World?

It will definitely attempt to. But it will never hold a car seat, take you skiing or win a drag race. It's never going to try.

It understands the average person drives around thirty miles a day. It has range for that. It can get up to highway speed, but knows you don't need to be zipping around past 78 miles per hour. It will get you to work, take you on a date or bring home a respectable amount of groceries.

And you'll be able to afford it. Without considering federal incentives, the coupe sells for around $25,000 and the cabriolet for $28,000. Or lease one for $139 or $199, respectively. Smart's Battery Assurance Plus program offers relief from battery-life anxiety. You can rent the battery rather than own it. Have a problem? Return it.

Smart has delivered an affordable and efficient all-electric ride that's better than the gas version. It accomplishes what it set out to do.

Yet physics can't be denied. When a big object hits a small object, the small object absorbs the punishment. Whether or not the Tridion Safety Cell retains its shape, the soft fleshy pieces inside will experience violent forces.

Only you can decide if you're comfortable being the lightweight in a heavyweight fight. At least you'll win at the gas pump.