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2017 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive prototype: first ride impressions

12 posts in this topic

Jeff Jablansky

Aug 4, 2016

Green Car Reports

Following the launch of the latest Smart Fortwo hatchback, it was only a matter of time before the trendy German brand would introduce an evolution of its Fortwo Electric Drive version as well.

While some electric vehicles remained desperately uncool or overpriced, the Fortwo "ED" (as Germans insist on calling it) bucked the trend, thanks to a low price and a relatively capable powertrain.

We joined Smart development engineers for a first look at the next-generation Fortwo ED at a testing facility in Arizona, getting to experience the car from the passenger’s seat.

DON'T MISS: How much do electric cars really pollute, even without tailpipes?

From the outside, the Fortwo ED will look exactly like its petrol-sipping sibling—minus tailpipes, of course. The green outlined Tridion safety cell will return as an option.

Both the Fortwo hatchback and cabriolet will be offered as electric cars; in other markets, the larger Forfour will also be available with electric power, but it is not coming to North America.

There are few enhancements to the current Smart's bare-bones interior, save for a clip-on charge indicator gauge left of the steering column.

A digital gauge within the infotainment displays shows a Prius-like charge and usage indicator while accelerating and decelerating.

Smart engineers and executives on hand were mum on specifics about the Fortwo ED prototype, but did let on that new model will be faster and more range-efficient than its predecessor.

ALSO SEE: 2016 Smart ForTwo Will Keep Older Electric Drive Model In Lineup (Jan 2015)

The lithium-ion battery pack weighs about 300 pounds, but its heft is offset by a motor that’s lighter than the Fortwo’s three-cylinder gasoline engine.

EPA-rated range could be as high as 85 miles per charge, the engineers hinted.

In the real world, off-the-line acceleration is admirable, not cringeworthy, and the Fortwo ED can definitely get out of its own way. Unlike previous Smart models, including the current Fortwo ED, this one is fun to drive.

The engineers spared no apexes taking us for a lap around the scorching-hot proving grounds, demonstrating how the boxy Fortwo ED stays upright with little body roll even through tight corners.

CHECK OUT: 2014 Smart ForTwo Electric Drive: What It's Like On The Road (Jan 2014)

An Eco setting lowers the air conditioning noticeably, with supposedly little effect on regenerative braking. Energy-saving Michelin tires will be standard equipment for the 15-inch wheels, while Continental tires will be optional on larger, more stylish, 16-inch wheels.

While Mercedes-Benz unremittingly continues as a leader in semi-autonomous technology, the little electric Smart won’t benefit from its advances.

Engineers cited the financially unfeasible cost of integrating active driving software in a low-cost product like the Fortwo ED, noting that it’s not meant to compete with the likes of the premium BMW i3.

Neither will the Fortwo family sprout a plug-in hybrid, they said, despite their proliferation throughout the Mercedes-Benz passenger car and light truck lineup.

For the same reasons of simplicity and low cost, the Fortwo ED will refuel only using Level 1 and Level 2 charging stations.

WATCH THIS: Smart Electric Drive Ad: Where Winning Drag Races Really Counts (Aug 2014)

The engineers said that charging should take only half the time of the current model, closer to two or three hours than five or six, likely from a modern 7.2-kilowatt onboard charger.

For now, then, the Fortwo ED represents a solid improvement in Daimler’s ability to deliver pure electric vehicles that are interesting to drive and more energy-efficient than its larger and more luxurious offerings.

The Smart Fortwo Electric Drive will make its world premiere at the Paris Motor Show this September; we'll have the opportunity to get behind the wheel sometime after that.

http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1105369_2017-smart-fortwo-electric-drive-prototype-first-ride-impressions#disqus_thread

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Agreed and I'll even wait another year so all the quirks are sorted out! Gee a Brabus ED would be nice too. Yeah right.

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It would. My only concern is range. Will I be able to get to work on a day where it's -25C out.

A heated steering wheel would help a lot....

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The *wink wink* unofficial range is 85 miles, but it's not confirmed by the EPA.

This is up from 68 miles on the current gen.

Battery pack size is increased from 18 kWh to 24 kWh.

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200 km according to European reports

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Apparently there exists an upgrade for the 451 ED's for the battery pack. This was reported on SCOA by a Toronto chap who had the upgrade done at his 24 month service.

I wonder who it applies to and what it will resolve. Anyone received any notices?

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When was your upgrade done? I was in for year one at the end of June and nothing was upgraded then.

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It wasn't at all an upgrade. Or at least it wasn't described to me as an upgrade. It was a software update. I was done end of June.

I wouldn't have known about it at all, except they had issues loading the new software which delayed my car.

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200 km according to European reports

I suspect this would be 200 km as an NEDC rating. The NEDC ratings are about 30% higher than EPA, as the EPA ratings take into account running the heat, and A/C.

This would give us an EPA rating of about 140 km, which marries up pretty closely to the 85 mile EPA range that is cited in some test drives (85 miles == 136 km).

For comparison, the current Smart ED has an EPA range of 68 miles, or 109 km, which is about what I can reasonably expect to get in most weather, almost irregardless of how I drive.

Either way it boils down to nearly 25% more range than the current car, ish. That might not be enough to pull people away from a Bolt, however, as the Bolt will have more than double the range, 4 seats, and still respectably snappy performance with it's 200 HP electric motor. We'll have to see how the Bolt drives.

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