2017 Smart ForTwo Electric Drive: first drive of electric two-seat car

On a hot, muggy day in south Florida, nothing is more comforting than knowing that your well-cooled car will make it to its destination.

When that car is a reboot of the Smart Fortwo Electric Drive, the tiny battery-powered European city slicker—and you’re surrounded by a sea of drivers who couldn’t care less about keeping to a speed limit or staying in their lanes—you want to hope that you can make it.

The forthcoming new-generation Electric Drive coupe and convertible proves that there is again room for an electric version in the revamped lineup of Fortwo city-sized vehicles.

DON’T MISS: 2017 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive prototype: first ride impressions (Aug 2016)

The shortest electric car on sale in the U.S. remains zippy, compact, and an urban warrior—but for many drivers, still unable to perform the duties of a primary car.

It offers quicker charging, slightly more range than the outgoing model, and a better overall package.

We joined Smart for a drive of the finished product in and around Miami, where cheap fuel, careless driving, and enormous SUVs form an unholy alliance.

2017 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive - first drive, Miami, Nov 2016 [photo: Jeff Jablansky]

2017 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive – first drive, Miami, Nov 2016 [photo: Jeff Jablansky]

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Situated in the rear of the electric Smart, where the engine would reside, is a 60-kilowatt (81-horsepower) electric motor producing 118 lb-ft of torque. A single-speed transmission sends its power to the rear wheels.

A 17.6-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack sits under the passenger compartment, keeping the tall car’s center of gravity as low as possible.

Smart estimates a range of 70 to 80 miles per full charge, roughly the same as the model it replaces—EPA-rated at 68 miles combined—and perhaps slightly better, as well as more energy-efficient.

With electric hardware replacing the combustion engine and drivetrain, the Electric Drive only weighs slightly more than a gas-powered Fortwo.

But it’s safe to say that the introduction of the second-generation Fortwo Electric Drive does not signal a battery-powered revolution for Smart.

These numbers are consistent with what we learned during a ride earlier this year in a prototype of the new Fortwo Electric Drive.

2017 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive - first drive, Miami, Nov 2016 [photo: Jeff Jablansky]

2017 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive – first drive, Miami, Nov 2016 [photo: Jeff Jablansky]

Enlarge Photo

The greatest improvement to the revamped electric two-seater is its charging time.

Using a 240-volt Level 2 station, the 2017 Fortwo Electric Drive is estimated to go from empty to full in approximately 3 hours—twice as fast as the current model. At a conventional 120-volt household outlet, a full recharge is expected to take more 13 hours.

Since all of the vehicles at the event were fully charged at the start, we’ll wait until we have an opportunity to drain the battery and recharge to confirm the charging times.

CHECK OUT: 2016 Smart ForTwo: First Drive Of All-New (gasoline) Two-Seat Minicar

Another plus: the electric range monitor fluctuates based on total system use, as does that of a laptop, giving a more accurate readout than in some other electric cars.

If you’ve ever turned on an electric car’s air conditioning, you’ve watched the range instantly drop by some percentage, never to recover.

In the Fortwo Electric Drive, clever climate-control settings sync with the range meter and reevaluate the range once the desired temperature has been reached. Given the small size of the cabin, that doesn’t take too long.

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