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What’s this? A riff on the best Smart you can buy. Not the Brabus, which isn’t great, but a convertible version of the all-electric Smart ForTwo Electric Drive. It has 81bhp, 118lb ft of torque and a claimed range of a shade under 100 miles. Seriously? Totally. Even in the new, much improved Smart ForTwo you have to drive around problems with the three-cylinder engines and five-speed manual or DCT gearboxes. The ED has neither an engine nor a proper gearbox, but a three-phase synchronous electric motor, a 17.6kWh lithium-ion battery pack and a single-speed transmission. This, ladies and gentlemen of the Internet, is what the Smart ForTwo should always have been – an EV. And a fun one, at that.
Besides the powertrain, is it just a regular Smart? Save for a dial showing how much charge you’ve got left where you’d usually find the rev-counter, yep. Same cheery interior, same exterior, same roof mechanism and operation for the convertible roof. How is it as a cabrio? Read our reviews of the petrol-powered ForTwo Cabrio for the full story, because the same still applies. There are three stages of fold - just the middle bit (like a big sunroof), the whole thing (including the rear window, which does away with rear visibility), then the whole thing with the two sidebars manually removed. They’re best left in place, because then you can operate the roof electrically without pulling over, all the way up to the car’s top speed. And all the way down is better than big sunroof - less blowy, in our experience. Top speed? So like 7mph? Don’t be cheeky. All EVs are fun, to a degree, because of how they deliver their performance. See every video ever of Teslas going quickly. It’s the same in the Smart. You can’t help but mash the accelerator away from a standstill, turning every junction, roundabout or set of lights into a race between you and whoever’s had the misfortune to pull up alongside. And in most cases, you’ll win. Its 0-62mph is officially 11.8 seconds, but in a car like this it’s 0-30mph that really matters – and that’s where the ED feels at its most potent. Hot-hatchy, even. Any fun is amplified by the Smart’s titchy wheelbase and comedy turning-circle, which gives it almost unrivalled city-slicking chops. Sure, the ride’s a bit pitchy, there’s no feel to the steering and it rolls a bit if you dial in much lock. But hey, it’s a city car. Of those qualms it’s the ride that’s the only real concern. Fun = no range, surely? Okay, so gunning it everywhere isn’t most economical way to drive the ED. We started out with a full-charge and 100 miles of range showing on the dash. After a ‘spirited’ 40-mile journey around Geneva and the surrounding countryside, we were left with 18 miles in reserve. Oops, etc… But the average Smart owner only does 20 or so miles a day, so who cares? And it was hot, so we had the air con on full blast. Driven more conservatively and without the fans set to max cold, we’d have been in better shape. Anyway, if you’re considering a Smart and a sub-100, 80 or even 60 mile range is an issue, we’d argue you shouldn’t be looking to buy a Smart in the first place. Does the battery take up much space in the boot? No, because it isn’t in the boot and, crucially, there’s not much boot space to take up. The battery is in fact under the floor, between the axles. A recharge to 80 per cent capacity takes two and half hours if you have a wallbox, (which, if you have an electric car, you should) or six hours from a typical household socket. Next year a three-phase 22 kW fast-charger is coming that’ll do the same in 45 minutes. Talk money . Save it, and buy the Coupe. Post government grant, prices for that car start at £16,420 (though much personalisation can be applied, driving costs skywards). The Cabrio is £18,560, and if you occasionally need four seats or enough boot to carry a suitcase, you can have this electric drivetrain in a ForFour for £16,915.