If you're a conscious consumer, then we've only got a few seconds to convince you that there is a version of the Smart Fortwo that's worth your attention. So here's our pitch: The 2013 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive. This is the plug-in version of the Smart 2-seater, and if you live and work in a densely-populated city -- New York, San Francisco, Paris -- and spend a lot of time broke, this might just be the ideal car for you. You can lease it for $1,999 down and $139 a month.
That's a flat-out bargain if the car is worth driving. And if your commute is short, your parking options are phone-booth-sized, and "cute" is one of your lifestyle options, then the Smart Fortwo Electric Drive is well worth driving. Plus it's cheap to own — electricity is cheap versus gasoline, and the maintenance on an electric-car drivetrain is pretty much nonexistent.
And unlike the gasoline-powered Smart Fortwo, you won't ever have to ask yourself what you were thinking — because you were thinking $139 a month for a new car. That deal, by the way, is good for Fortwo Electric Drive hardtop models. There's also a convertible version but it's more expensive, and it kind of attracts road noise.
The Fortwo Electric Drive is simplicity to drive. With 96 lb-ft of torque, it's got significantly more power on tap than that the gasoline Fortwo, and with a single-speed transmission integrated into the drivetrain, the roll-on of acceleration is flawless. As with all electric cars, "regenerative" braking plays a part in charging the battery, but the Smart's brake-pedal feel and performance don't suffer because of it. Zipping happily around town all day with the giddy abandon of a Manhattan bike messenger is where the Smart Fortwo Electric Drive belongs. Just remember to keep your freeway driving to a minimum (top speed is 74 mph).
Now, for a practical paragraph: A full charge of the Fortwo Electric Drive will take you 76 miles in the city. With a 240-volt charging station, it takes about six hours to power up and 14 hours with a standard 110-volt setup. And if tiny-car safety is an issue for you, fear not: Smart Fortwos all come defended by the Mercedes-Benz-engineered Electronic Stability Program and a high-strength-steel "safety cell" protecting the driver and passenger.
Inside, the Electric Drive is a riff on the hip, surprisingly roomy (for people, not cargo) Smart Fortwo 2-person interior with a few extra gauges and readouts added to keep you up on the state of the battery charge and performance.
If you decide to purchase instead of lease, the 2013 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive retails for $25,750 (including destination) for the hardtop and $28,750 for the convertible. In addition to the significant tax breaks available for buying electric, you can drop those prices another $5,010 by renting the battery for $80 a month via Smart's Battery Assurance Plus program which essentially guarantees the battery's quality and performance for the life of the car. But we strongly recommend that lease deal, which includes the Battery Assurance Plus benefits.
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