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First Drive: Smart Fortwo Electric Drive Coupé

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The Smart Fortwo Electric Drive is now available for fleets to buy for the very first time, although some will be surprised to learn it’s in its third generation.

Previously only available to businesses through leasing, prices for the new model start from £15,395, including the £5,000 plug-in car grant.

To help further the Fortwo’s appeal with fleets, the battery will also be available to lease rather than buy, with prices starting from £12,275 and £55 per month for the battery rental. This will not only make the smart fortwo a more affordable option but also comes with 10 year free battery replacement so adds a little extra piece of mind to buyers new to the technology.

Powered by a 74bhp electric motor and an all-new 17.6 kWh lithium-ion battery, the latest electric version of the two-seater comes with an enhanced acceleration performance when above 35mph and a new, higher top speed of 78mph. Light handling and quick acceleration make the Smart Fortwo fun to drive, it manoeuvres in traffic well although the regenerative brakes are a little sharp.

Tipping the scales at 130kg heavier than the diesel Smart Fortwo means the Electric Drive is still nimble and light despite the extra weight of the battery pack.

Standard equipment includes touch-screen sat-nav, leather interior, Bluetooth and 15-inch alloy wheels. Heated seats, cruise control and a pedestrian sound module are available as an option.

The battery has a range of up to 90 miles and comes with two mounted dials in the dash which help illustrate how much energy is being used.

A full charge will take up to seven hours from a domestic mains supply or one hour at a quick charge point.

The smart fortwo looks small from the exterior, but inside the surroundings are surprisingly spacious and comfortable. The interior has a quirky but refined design, the quality of materials is good and the controls are simple to use, the only major negative is the un-adjustable steering wheel.

Parking is easy in the Fortwo and boot space, albeit quite limited, is not far away from other small cars in the market, with 220 litres available.

Smart has also developed a useful iPhone app which enables you to check battery charge, set the interior temperature and locate charging points all remotely.

Although it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, for city based fleets who want something quirky and fun to drive while ticking the ‘green’ box, the Smart Fortwo electric drive is definitely worth considering, albeit the technology still makes it a pricey choice.

Driver appeal
A two-seater electric car with a top speed of 78mph will not be versatile enough for some company drivers, but given the right environment, the smart is an ideal choice. Nippy and fun to drive, with an upmarket interior and good standard equipment, smart have positioned themselves well to compete with the other electric vehicles on the market.
CO2 emissions
Choosing an electric vehicle may not be the cheapest option available but is a greener alternative to the traditional combustion engine. Despite the higher outright costs, there are substantial savings to be made with no tax and congestion charges or fuel.
Fuel costs
With the prices of electricity on the rise, only time will tell how long charging an electric battery will produce the savings it does today. For now though, at 2.78ppm, the ‘fuel’ costs is a big incentive for suitable fleets to switch to electric.
FN Verdict
This was my first experience of a smart and it definitely left a lasting impression and surpassed my expectations, especially for the comfort and interior quality. Although it will not be a practical choice for a majority of company car drivers, for city based companies and commuters after something quirky and fun, the smart fortwo electric drive definitely delivers.
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CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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