Smart says that it is a pioneer of electric drive vehicles, and that's true to a degree. The brand was conceived as an electric one, so points for history there, but leadership then does not equal leadership now. Just look at the official Smart ED page, which still shows the old model ED, or remember that the the electric model's launch in the US has been delayed. Instead of the promised "late 2016," the ED will now arrive some time in the spring of 2017. The good news is that the car is worth the wait, with a few caveats.
If the Fortwo is naturally a city car, the Fortwo ED is a you-better-believe-it a city car. The ED is powered by a 17.6-kWh lithium-ion battery with 17.2 kWh of usable energy. That's good for a whopping 100 miles of range ... but only in Europe where they use the NEDC test cycle. Here in the US, expect to see about 70 or 80 miles from the EPA (The current model, based on the previous-gen Fortwo, gets 68 miles). Given that limitation, this is not the car that wants to wander far from the skyscrapers. You won't either, in one of these, because you'll be having too much fun winning traffic.
Zippy on steroids is a fair way to describe the fun acceleration you can get from a Fortwo ED. Sure, the 0-60 time isn't record-breaking (in fact, it's a leisurely 11.5 seconds to get to 62 miles per hour), but the 0-30 time is what matters in the stoplight-to-stoplight sprint (the ED goes zero-to-60 kilometers per hour, or 37 mph, in 4.9 seconds). There's only a tiny an 81-horsepower electric motor that provides 118 pound-feet of torque, but when it's placed over the traction axle in a small and light rear-wheel drive car like this, that's plenty to push your keister into the seat. If you're otherwise going to be maneuvering around delivery trucks and SUVs, at least stomping the accelerator will put a smile on your face. Speaking of fun, the tight, 22.8-foot turning radius is no joke. The first time you experience it, you will utter a word you were not meaning to say. For city maneuvering, it simply can't be beat, and it makes the entire experience a ton more fun. The suspension is reasonable for a car like this. You'll feel your city's bumps, but not in an offensive way.
If you're interested in more powertrain details:
It's no secret that the transmission in the gas-powered previous-generation Fortwo was a hot mess. The old EV version used a shift-free single-speed transmission, which made it noticeably better. The new gas Fortwo has a dramatically improved transmission, which means we can recommend it to the right person (especially the cabrio). With the new version of the ED, the smooth acceleration is such a contrast to the jarring shift points you might remember from the past that if you're even slightly interested in the new Fortwo, you deserve to get yourself a test drive.
We've spent so much time in the new Smart Fortwo that it almost feels like cheating to talk about what it looks like again (see, in chronological order, our previous reviews here, here, and here). Sure, all that time was in the gas-powered models, but the looks of the electric Smart are pretty much exactly the same, aside from the Electric Drive graphics and the slightly different grille. Your almost-endless color choices remain the same (our new favorite: blue with white accents), as well. And, thankfully, the ED will some day be available in cabrio form as well.
The Smart Fortwo ED is not a car for everyone. Smart says that it doesn't feel any pressure from longer-range, more practical competitors like the Chevy Bolt because the average distance its customers drive if 40 miles a day, and the Fortwo can easily handle that. For the previous generation, about 25 to 30 percent of Smart sales were electric models, and while Smart isn't making any predictions for the new model, the company's European factory stands ready to provide anywhere between zero and 100 percent EV models, depending on demand. The brands' CEO, Annette Winkler, said that she thinks, it will be a "high percentage" of buyers who choose to drive electric. No one is talking about the price just yet, but if the ultra-cheap $99 lease offers (or even the $139 ones) return, then, yeah, she'll be right.
Those buyers are the people I want to hang with. If the Fortwo's "look-at-me" style matches your own, if you like feeling more flexible on a city street than you ever have before – yes, I can make it through there; yes, I can park this in that tiny spot – and if you can live with 75-ish miles of range, then we can heartily recommend the new Fortwo ED. Let's go for a drive.