What is it like?

Used Smart ForTwo EQ review

Used Smart ForTwo EQ 2018-present
Review continues below...

What's the used Smart ForTwo EQ coupe like?

There have been Smart ForTwos on the road since 1998, but it was only after the second-generation car was launched in 2007 that Smart got serious about an electric version, and by 2009 there was a limited run of cars available for lease.

However, it took until 2013 before a production and showroom-ready Smart EV was ready to hit the streets. Basically, it took the tiny two-seater Smart city car, under 2.7m in length, and replaced its petrol engine and associated transmission with a pure electric drive. The electric motor therein pumped out a maximum of 74bhp and gave the Smart a range of up to 90 miles. The battery could be charged in eight hours from a domestic socket, and was compatible with fast charging, in which case it might be as quick as one hour. You could buy the car pretty conventionally, but you had to pay additionally for the battery via a monthly lease.

When the third generation Smart ForTwo arrived an all-new electric version was announced, called initially the Electric Drive but in 2018 rebranded to EQ, and it eventually went on sale in 2016. It came as a two-seater coupe or an open-topped cabrio. Power was up to 80bhp and the top speed to 80mph. More importantly, the claimed range was upped to 99 miles, and you could charge it up in two and a half hours via a home wallbox with the 7kW charging option, or just 40 minutes with the more expensive 22kW one.

On the road it turns out the ForTwo EQ is the cream of the Smart crop. Its electric motor, juiced-up by a 17.6kWh battery, is quiet, smooth and effortless. And the instant hit of torque from the electric motor the minute you put your foot down makes it feel much quicker than its 0-62mph time suggests. The handling is a little better than the petrol-engined car’s, too, thanks to a lower centre of gravity gained from having the battery under the seats. This means you don’t get quite the same alarming lean angles through corners as you do on the other versions.

The range of the electric version is limited though; it offers a claimed 99 miles from fully charged, which in the real world will probably be closer to 60-75 miles, and in our Real Range testing was actually only 59 miles.

The interior features plenty of light, brightly coloured materials to make it look a bit more cheerful inside. In general, it’s well screwed together, although some of the Renault derived switches and stalks feel a bit cheap. Both the steering wheel and driver's seat have height adjustment as standard, enabling you to find a decent driving position. It’s not perfect, thanks to a lack of steering wheel reach adjustment. You sit quite high in the Smart, giving a good view forwards, but the ForTwo’s thick rear pillars obstruct over-the-shoulder visibility.  

Smart's inbuilt 7.0in Media touchscreen is actually a Renault unit, too. The menus can be unresponsive and a little confusing, but you get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring as standard, which lets you bypass the Renault software and use your phone’s functions, such as internet radio and sat-nav, instead.

Boot space is claimed to be a reasonable 350 litres, the same as the petrol-engined cars, but its awkward shape hinders its practicality. Fitting items such as large suitcases and pushchairs inside isn’t going to happen; it’s really a couple of weekend bags and that’s it.

 

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