What the experts say about the 2017 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive Cabriolet
October 20, 2017  Jaclyn Trop

2017 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive Cabriolet  / –Smart 

Two editors and a dealer weigh in.
2017 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive Cabriolet.     2017 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive
Cabriolet. –Smart ...

In this ongoing series, talks with automotive authorities about
why you should consider driving — or avoiding — a specific model.

The 2017 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive Cabriolet is a short car with a long
name. The bulbous, color-blocked microcar might look silly, but it’s ideal
for city driving, if you can stomach the outsized price tag that starts at
$28,750 before tax incentives.

As the only battery-powered convertible on the market, the Fortwo fits — as
its name implies — two people and little else. The brand is not built for
speed — the 80-horsepower minicar hits a top speed of 81 and is one of the
world’s slowest cars, requiring 11.7 seconds to hit 60 mph from standstill.
In fact, its true advantage is most evident in slower situations. Its
22.8-foot turning radius lets the Fortwo make U-turns where other cars would
make clunky three-pointers, and it can slide into parking spaces other cars
wouldn’t dare.

The cabrio can travel 57 miles on a fully charged battery, which replenishes
in about three hours. Smart, which is owned by Mercedes-Benz parent company
Daimler AG, says the car is best suited to city or suburban dwellers who
drive fewer than 50 miles a day, or families looking to add a second or
third car to the garage. Its roof opens and closes automatically with the
push of a button. However, removing its roof bars for a more expansive
aerial view requires pulling over and getting out of the car. Every model is
equipped with a playful, oversized dashboard centered around a 7-inch touch

The latest model hasn’t been tested for crashworthiness by the Insurance
Institute for Highway Safety or the National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration. The coupe version performed well in the agencies’ tests; the
Fortwo’s Tridion Safety Cell frame undergoes the same safety evaluations as
Mercedes-Benz’s flagship S-Class sedan. Crosswind assist, which stabilizes
the car in heavy winds, comes standard, as does cruise control. A rearview
camera is optional for the 2017 model.

What the experts are saying

Easy to maneuver

“The Smart Fortwo Electric Drive Cabrio is the only plug-in electric car
with a soft top you can buy. Like the (non-electric) Fiat 500c, it’s not a
full convertible. Instead, a cloth roof panel rolls back, and you can also
remove the roof rails if you want, leaving the car’s safety structure
intact. The little two-seater was completely redesigned a couple of years
ago, and it’s a wider and more modern car than the previous generation,
which was ancient. The turning circle is so tight you can do loops in a
two-lane road, and it remains the easiest car to park in crowded cities. But
for the same money, you can get one of several four-door small cars with
four seats and a large sunroof that’ll be more versatile and meet a wider
variety of your needs. All Smarts are now electric, and the cabrio’s range
(when other electric cars now range from 107 to 238 miles) means it’s
confined mostly to city use. That’s its best use anyhow; for long road
trips, you’ll want a different vehicle. Still, if you want to drive
all-electric and feel the wind in your hair, this is your car.” – John
Voelcker, editor of Green Car Reports

Quirky style

“The electric version of the Smart Fortwo is the only version that ever
really made sense. Earlier gas-powered Fortwos were plagued by an awful
transmission that made a compromise car even more of a challenge to accept.
While the newer Fortwo has an improved transmission, it still can’t match
the smooth, single-gear elegance of the Fortwo ED’s electric drivetrain. Add
the zero-emission zippiness of an electric motor, and it all makes the
little city car a perfect EV, for some. If you like quirky style and the
ability to get in and out of parking spots other cars think are just gaps
between the fenders, the new Fortwo is a great option. Remove the top for
the cabrio version, and you’re just showing off to the world that you know
what you like and aren’t afraid to show it.”
 – Sebastian Blanco, senior green car editor, Motor1 and InsideEVs

Commuter car

“While it may be a 100 percent electric car, this is no Tesla competitor.
The Smart Electric Drive is ideal for suburban driving, commuting, going
shopping, and finding parking. In the suburbs around Boston, we have lots of
people using full-sized cars and parking at the commuter rail and MBTA
stations every day. If their car is only half of their daily commute, they
probably don’t need to be using a full-size car, especially if they travel
to work alone every morning. Besides, parking at Boston’s T stations is
tight enough already, and having the smallest car available can be a real
advantage around here. Whether I’m looking for parking around the Fenway
area of Boston, in downtown Portsmouth, New Hampshire, or at the limited
parking surrounding the Middlesex Fells in Medford on a nice day, the Smart
Fortwo has yet to let me down.”
 – Dan Fava, Smart brand manager at Smart Center of Lynnfield, Massachusetts
[© 2017 Boston Globe Media Partners]

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