2017 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive: America's Smallest EV Gets a Makeover

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Smart, the plucky and perplexing subsidiary of Mercedes-Benz, has the unique distinction of offering an EV variant of its sole U.S. model that’s generally accepted as being an improvement over the gas-powered model.

Certainly, a vastly reduced range doesn’t boost the tiny package’s appeal, but the two-seat city car really isn’t meant for those long-legged highway trips. That’s what the Ford F-150 and Fiat 500 are for. No, the Smart Fortwo Electric Drive has two aces up its sleeve — instant thrust, and a transmission that mercifully stays in the same gear.

For 2017, Smart has sized up its Electric Drive, accepted its limitations (no, we can’t add a backseat ... ), and made it a bit better in any way it can.

The biggest change for the 2017 Fortwo ED is the vehicle itself. Daimler stuffed the powertrain from the old electric variant into the newer (and arguably brawnier) bodystyle of the gas-powered Smart, which sports a squared-off profile and something resembling a hood.

Power figures are up, albeit modestly. The 2017 model makes 80 horsepower and 118 lb-ft of torque, up from the previous generation’s 74 hp and 96 lb-ft. In a tiny car, that’s a fair bit of grunt. Maximum speed, which is limited to preserve range, sees an incremental nudge up to 81 miles per hour.

The automaker hasn’t released U.S. range figures, though the model achieves 99 miles (160 kilometers) on the much different European driving cycle. Convertible versions see three fewer miles of range. When U.S. numbers are announced, expect an incremental boost in range from the previous generation’s combined figure of 68 miles. Battery size remains the same, at 17.6 kWh.

Smart claims a 2.5-hour recharging time with a 240-volt outlet and the vehicle’s high-performance charger, less than half the previous charging time. Given the model’s low range, the ability to re-juice the battery in a hurry should please those select buyers who view the Smart ED as “enough car.”

Coupe versions of the 2017 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive should land on U.S. shores next spring, with open-top models arriving in summer.

[Images: Mercedes-Benz USA]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on Sep 24, 2016

    I rented Geo Metro once and had a feeling that I was, like Japanese Imperial Navy pilot, on suicide mission. It had fun factor to it though too, like riding bike. But Metro was IMO better vehicle that anything Smart can come with. I would rather choose any of JDM Kei cars over Smart any time. They also look very cute. Smart is just plain ugly and useless.

  • Syke Syke on Sep 25, 2016

    From what I'm reading, this sounds like what the Smart should have been in the first place. Looks like an excellent commuter car.

  • Jonathan IMO the hatchback sedans like the Audi A5 Sportback, the Kia Stinger, and the already gone Buick Sportback are the answer to SUVs. The A5 and the AWD version of the Stinger being the better overall option IMO. I drive the A5, and love the depth and size of the trunk space as well as the low lift over. I've yet to find anything I need to carry that I can't, although I admit I don't carry things like drywall, building materials, etc. However, add in the fun to drive handling characteristics, there's almost no SUV that compares.
  • C-b65792653 I'm starting to wonder about Elon....again!!I see a parallel with Henry Ford who was the wealthiest industrialist at one time. Henry went off on a tangent with the peace ship for WWI, Ford TriMotor, invasive social engineering, etc. Once the economy went bad, the focus fell back to cars. Elon became one of the wealthiest industrialist in the 21st century. Then he went off with the space venture, boring holes in the ground venture, "X" (formerly Twitter), etc, etc, etc. Once Tesla hit a plateau and he realized his EVs were a commodity, he too is focused on his primary money making machine. Yet, I feel Elon is over reacting. Down sizing is the nature of the beast in the auto industry; you can't get around that. But hacking the Super Charger division is like cutting off your own leg. IIRC, GM and Ford were scheduled to sign on to the exclusive Tesla charging format. That would have doubled or tripled his charging opportunity. I wonder what those at the Renaissance Center and the Glass House are thinking now. As alluded to, there's blood in the water and other charging companies will fill the void. I believe other nations have standardized EV charging (EU & China). Elon had the chance to have his charging system as the default in North America. Now, he's dropped the ball. He's lost considerable influence on what the standardized format will eventually be. Tremendous opportunity lost. 🚗🚗🚗
  • Tassos I never used winter tires, and the last two decades I am driving almost only rear wheel drive cars, half of them in MI. I always bought all season tires for them, but the diff between touring and non touring flavors never came up. Does it make even the smallest bit of difference? (I will not read the lengthy article because I believe it does not).
  • Lou_BC ???
  • Lou_BC Mustang sedan? 4 doors? A quarterhorse?Ford nomenclature will become:F Series - Pickups Raptor - performance division Bronco - 4x4 SUV/CUVExplorer - police fleetsMustang- cars
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