By on September 23, 2016

2017 smart fortwo cabrio electric drive (Euro spec image)

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.

2017 smart fortwo cabrio electric drive (Euro spec image)

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]

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15 Comments on “2017 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive: America’s Smallest EV Gets a Makeover...”

  • avatar

    And the fans of this car rejoiced.

    Both of them.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      I’ve seen a surprising number of the previous gen around. I guess they were almost free after government incentives. Seems like it would make a good second car if your commute is short enough. The electric drive avoided the old Smart’s rough transmission.

      The range on the new one already seems obsolete. I wouldn’t be surprised if they upgraded it very soon. bet you a lot of spreadsheets had to be updated at Daimler HQ when the Bolt and Model 3 were announced.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      I’ll be in Paris in a couple of weeks and I see many vehicles this size. There is a place for these. One brand called a Axim (or something is common).

      But, the US like Canuckistan and Australia have sprawling cities. This is not good for this style of vehicle, but for a latte sipping inner city type who jets everywhere this is suitable for a runabout.

  • avatar

    I don’t think there’s a better example of how “pedestrian crash safety” regulations are ruining automotive design than a full-on side shot of this car. Let the distracted people too busy on their phone to bother looking where they walk play into Darwin’s work.

  • avatar

    So much info – but no price?

  • avatar

    If the price is right, this could make for an ideal commuter car….

  • avatar

    This is the electric car that makes sense to me. A commuter pod pared down to the bare minimum to get you to work and back, with the ability to take a passenger and pick up the groceries when necessary. It’s not a highway cruiser other than for short distances, so an excess of range is irrelevant. And it is CHEAP, so no hardship to have something else for other than commuting. If I still had a commute, I would have one of these already.

  • avatar

    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.

  • avatar

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

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