Introduced 15 years ago at the Paris Motor Show, the Smart Fortwo, named after its two-seat capacity, is now in its third generation as the smallest full production car available in the United States. The third generation of all electric model was also recently unveiled, and The Weekly Driver drove and filmed the new car at a press launch in San Francisco.
Priced respectively at $25,000 (coupe) and $28,000 (cabriolet), the manufacturer is marketing the car as the most affordable full production electric vehicle in the United States. Customers may also be eligible for federal tax credits (totaling as much as $7,500) as well as state and/or local tax credits.
During the presentation (and subsequent driving opportunity) of the new Fortwo EV at Hotel Zetta, the manufacturer also announced a new pricing incentive. The Fortwo EV is available with a $139 monthly payment ($60 less than previous) and with a down payment of $1,999. The offer is available only in zero emission states.
(Double-click on thumbnails to view larger images. View the video filmed and edited by Bruce Aldrich at the bottom of the page.)
Here are additional key facts and figures for the 2013 Smart Fortwo EV:
Airbags (8): front, side, knee and window curtain for the driver and passenger. In the cabriolet’s open-top design, head and thorax air bags are installed instead of the coupe’s side and window curtain air bags.
Charging Efficiency: 100 percent, 6 hours, level 2 charger, 240 voltage.
Driving Range (Electric): 76 mpg (city), 59 (hwy), 68 (combined); MPGe 122 (city), 93 (hwy), 107 combined.
Electric Capacity: 17.6 kwh.
Wheelbase: 73.7 inches; Length 106 inches (8 feet, 10 inches).
Driving Impressions: The streets of San Francisco have traffic just like any major metro city. It’s often mayhem. I drove the Smart Fortwo EV about 20 miles in mid-day traffic from the heart of the financial district to Golden Gate Park. I swerved around a bus and barely avoided a few cyclists dogging in and out of traffic.
I liked the car’s responsiveness. It accelerated quicker than the Mitsubishi i-MIEV, one of its main competitors. The Smart Fortwo EV is quiet and it’s surprisingly spacious considering its status as the smallest car in full production in the United States.
Braking involved a brief learning curve, with stopping requiring a good strong, sustained effort. My colleague, however, who also drove the car, didn’t feel the brakes were off-putting.
Downtown San Francisco is a city with roads in constant disrepair or offering less-than-smooth driving — cable car and bus tracks, ancient, pot-holed asphalt, narrow streets and short steep hills. The Smart Fortwo handled the obstacles better than expected.
And, of course, considering its size, parking in tight spots, zipping around construction areas or making U-turns impressively in small spaces all added to the fun.