Few cars seem as ready to be made electric as the Smart ForTwo and ForFour. They're tiny and rarely venture from city centers, which means massive range isn't really necessary. The new Smart Electric Drive, with up to 160 km range and torquey motors, could be the perfect runabout for inner city commuters with one eye on the environment.
The last generation ForTwo was available with electric power, but Smart has delved much deeper into the world of batteries with its latest offerings. Along with the tiny ForTwo, theForTwo Convertible and ForFour will also come in Electric Drive form, making Smart the only manufacturer worldwide to offer its entire range with internal combustion and pure electric offerings.
What's more, the death of the Tesla Roadster makes the ForTwo Cabrio the only electric convertible on the market.
All three models are powered by the same electric motor putting out 60 kW (81 hp) of power, and there's 160 Nm of torque on tap from standstill. Flat out in all three models, you'll be doing an (electronically governed) 130 km/h (81 mph), while the 100 km/h (62 mph) sprint takes 11.5 seconds in the ForTwo, pushing out to 12.7 seconds in the heavier ForFour.
That's not quick, but that's not really the point here. By limiting acceleration and top speed, Smart has managed to eke a range of 160 km (99 mi) out of the 17.6 kWh lithium-ion battery pack in the ForTwo, and 155 km (94 mi) from the Cabrio and ForFour.
In the interests of maximizing that range, drivers are able to slip the car into Eco Mode, which changes the throttle map and makes the energy recuperation system more aggressive. The recuperation system also uses a forward-facing radar to monitor the traffic situation, and modifies the level of energy being drawn back into the battery based on what's ahead.
Charging takes six hours on a standard European/UK home plug, or twelve using an American plug. There is also an optional wall box, which drops those times to 2.5 hours in the US/UK and 3.5 hours in Europe.
The car also features a pre-entry climate control system, which cools the cabin down to the desired temperature while it's still plugged into the wall, rather than relying on the battery to do it when the driver hops in. Although the pre-cooling system can be manually set, it can also be programmed to automatically switch on in time for the daily commute.
Aside from the clever pre-cooling system, there's not a huge difference between the Electric Drive and regular Smart models. The funky rev counter has been adapted to map whether power is being consumed or harvested, and a prominent battery readout means there's no excuse for going flat.
Pricing for the Smart Electric Drive kicks off at €21,940 (about US$24,500) for the ForTwo, before jumping to €22,600 ($25,200) for the ForFour and €25,200 ($28,100) for the ForTwo Cabrio. It will make its debut at the Paris Motor Show, where we'll be on the ground covering all the action.