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2015 smart fortwo electric drive

Overview
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2015 smart fortwo electric drive Review

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KBB Expert Rating: 3.3

When the Smart Fortwo microcar debuted in 2008, it was unlike anything else. Beyond having the smallest footprint of any car on the road, the Smart boasted high fuel economy, a low price, Euro charm and the ability to snag the smallest of parking spots. But the initial glow has faded from this 2-seat coupe and convertible. Furthermore, newer and better competition has arrived in the Chevrolet Spark, Fiat 500 and Scion iQ. Those rivals offer plenty the Smart doesn't, including standard power steering. 2015 Smart Fortwo buyers may still rightly be tempted by the car's ability to park anywhere or the no-gasoline-required Smart Fortwo Electric Drive. If you can wait, the all-new 2016 Smart is around the corner and looks promising.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you're more concerned about finding a place to park in a crowded urban environment than you are about comfort and refinement over a moderate commute, the 2015 Fortwo might be smart for you. The electric version is appealing with its ease of operation and potential access to carpool lanes.

You May Not Like This Car If...

The Smart Fortwo's $14,000 starting price is low, but you can buy a larger and better car for the around the same money or even less. The Nissan Versa, Chevrolet Spark, Ford Fiesta and Kia Rio all offer more refinement, better ride quality and a rear seat.

What's New for 2015

The 2015 Smart Fortwo carries on for one more year before the all-new 2016 Smart Fortwo arrives with new looks, new equipment, more space and what promises to be better ride quality.

Driving the fortwo electric drive
Driving Impressions

Ordinarily a tiny wheelbase results in a rather rude ride, but the 2015 Smart Fortwo is bearable – at least in the city. Once you leave lower-speed urban environments, however,...

... the Fortwo’s failings float to the surface like oil on water. At highway speeds, this microcar's steering requires constant correction to keep it on course. The 1.0-liter 3-cylinder engine labors for a good 13 seconds to reach 60 mph, and the automatic transmission is crude beyond reason. Strong winds and speeding 18-wheelers deliver unwanted shoves that require one to keep a firm grip on the steering wheel. After about 30 minutes of freeway driving, navigating the Fortwo felt more like a chore. Far more bearable – and potentially enjoyable – is the Smart Fortwo Electric Drive. Smart's plug-in vehicle is zippier and has a refined, single-speed transmission. But with a top speed of only 78 mph, it's still no freeway hero.

TINY TURNING RADIUS
Thanks to its tiny 28.7-foot turning radius, the Smart Fortwo can pull a U-turn where other cars are forced to perform the dreaded 3-point turn.

TRIDION SAFETY CELL
A car as small as the 2015 Smart Fortwo is bound to elicit safety concerns, especially with the preponderance of SUVs trolling the streets. To alleviate this fear, Smart has created a high-strength steel cell around the Fortwo’s occupants designed to dissipate energy in the event of a crash.

2015 smart fortwo electric drive Details
2015 smart fortwo electric drive photo Interior

By the outward looks of the Smart Fortwo, you may think its interior is only large enough for a hobbit. But step inside and you'll be pleasantly surprised at the Smart's 2-passenger interior. Smart's tiny car has a tall shape, and that translates to ample headroom and legroom, while the floating design of its dash adds to the cabin’s sense of spaciousness. At merely 7.8 cubic feet, however, cargo space is tight. It can hold a bag of golf clubs, but not much else. The ability to fold the passenger seat helps when carrying longer items.

Exterior
2015 smart fortwo electric drive photo

You already know the 2015 Smart Fortwo is tiny, but let's put it in perspective. At 106.1 inches in length, the Smart is nearly half the size of a full-size sedan. More apples to apples, this microcar is nearly three feet shorter than a 2015 Fiat 500. With its tall height, this 2-seat hatchback looks like a high-top sneaker on wheels. In back a clamshell opening with a tailgate and liftgate make for easy loading and unloading of groceries. Cabriolet models have an automatic soft-top that can be opened to various positions at any speed, and feature removable roof side bars for a more open experience.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The 2015 Smart Fortwo's $14,000 base price in Pure trim is understandably tempting, but you should also understand what you get for the money. Perhaps it's better stated what you don't get. Yes, it comes with air conditioning, a cup holder, four wheels and an engine. Among the major things it lacks: power steering, power windows, power mirrors, cruise control – even a radio. This is truly basic transportation. Stepping up to the Passion trim rights some of those wrongs – power windows and 2-speaker AM/FM/USB stereo will make your commute somewhat more livable – but that power steering? Still an option.

Optional Equipment

Base Pure trims can be brought up to 1990s’ levels of basic creature comforts by paying extra for power windows, cruise control and a radio. If you want to be really fancy in your new Smart, opt for the Passion trim and choose the heated leather seats, 6.5-inch touch-screen navigation unit with Bluetooth wireless connectivity, and surround-sound system. To differentiate your Smart aesthetically, there's the Brabus style package. The Smart Fortwo convertible can be had with a blue or red soft top instead of black for no extra cost, and the Smart Fortwo plug-in offers a Kinetic Green Appearance Package to further stand out.

Under the Hood

The 2015 Smart Fortwo is powered by a 1.0-liter, 3-cylinder Mitsubishi engine that makes 70 horsepower. That isn’t a lot of power, but at less than 1,900 pounds, the Smart doesn’t have much mass to move. The engine is located in the rear and, unlike most other small cars, drives the rear wheels. The sole transmission is a very unrefined 5-speed automated manual. Highway fuel economy on the Smart is rated up to 38 mpg. Also note, the Smart Fortwo uses premium gasoline. The all-electric Smart uses a 55-kilowatt motor powered by lithium-ion batteries. The electric Smart's listed range is 68 miles. A depleted battery can be recharged in six hours on a 240-volt outlet, hours longer on a standard 110-v.

1.0-liter inline-3
70 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm
68 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 34/38 mpg

Electric magneto motor
74 horsepower
96 lb-ft of torque
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 122/93 mpg equivalent
Range on a full charge: 68 miles

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