Charge up the light brigade
Rebecca Chaplin gets to grips with the new Smart Forfour Electric Drive
The Smart Forfour was the first time the brand enabled owners to take more than two people in one of its cars. Now, you will be able to drive one of these four-seaters with an all-electric powertrain. It gets the same engine as was unveiled on its little sister, the Fortwo, at the end of last year. With a range of up to 96 miles, it’s good, but it’s not quite up there with some of its rivals, so does it make up for this deficiency in other areas?
The brand has taken this opportunity to take some of the features and really exaggerate the unfamiliar elements of this compact car. However, in this latest facelifted version, some of the quirky interior has been toned down. The curvy and bulbous look of this car remains though, with two-tone choices on the exterior. Inside is still decidedly practical. Instead of opting for a premium feel with concealed storage options, materials are designed to face a lot of short journeys and the stresses of people hopping in and out frequently. Space in the front is generous and thanks to those standard-sized doors, getting in is easy. Boot space is really limited – this is not the sort of car designed to take four people away for the weekend.
The electric drive means power is available almost instantly, although you’re going to want to try and resist the temptation to plant your foot to the ground. With only 96 miles of range – at the absolute best – If you rarely drive more than 30 miles from your home and stay at city speeds for the majority of the time, the Smart Forfour Electric Drive could be for you.
this is not a car for pushing to the limits. The steering can be light and a bit vague, too, but again, this is only really something that should affect you if you’re driving it beyond what it’s designed for.
Price is where the Smart Forfour and Fortwo Electric Drive come into their own. Electric mobility can be extremely pricey, but if you can afford the initial outlay, you can hope you make your money back in reduced ownership costs later. However, compared with rivals, Smart is relatively cheap. At around £19,000 for the Forfour, and a few hundred pounds less for the Fortwo, these are very affordable compared to rivals. At the moment, you can charge at home, but it’s not particularly quick, taking around six hours to charge to 80%. Later in the year, a fast charger will be available, but cars released before that date won’t be compatible.