Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins
Vehicle sustainability is the most talked about subject matter in the transportation industry right now as it relates to preserving precious resources and stabilizing the health of Mother Earth. And it’s no small wonder that electric current is atop every automaker’s mind. With the smart fortwo electric drive cabrio consumers will receive the best of three worlds including a micro vehicle that can park virtually anywhere, a minuscule ride that lets you rejuvenate with the sun, and a miniature car empowered with plug-in energy.
It was a fun, joyous drive in San Diego, California with the little guy as the environmental elements provided a breath of fresh air while the aesthetically clever design attracted the attention of many San Diegans. The smart fortwo is of course quiet we would soon find out when we rolled up on a few locals for directions without them noticing us. The vehicle’s initial movement from the stop position is quick while agility is a key attribute for the urban mobility customers are seeking. During an amusing and interesting “match your smart” scavenger hunt for the national press drive journalists were reminded how convenient the car is since we were able to park in the tightest places and make u-turns with the slightest amount of space due to a 22.8 foot turning radius.
The eclectic and pulsating vibe of San Diego was in tune with the electrified vibe of our ride as the two combined for the perfect synergy. In fact, the entire smart brand has gone electric in the United States and Canada with the rest of the world markets to follow suit. With 80 horsepower emanating from a 60 kW three-phase electric motor the rear-wheel drive smart fortwo electric drive cabrio can reach a top speed of 81 mph, has a drive range of 60 miles, and requires three hours of level two charging for its new 17.6 kWh lithium-ion battery (96 cell) that is also 44 pounds lighter than the prior generation. Company engineers had no qualms switching from gas to electrification since the vehicle was designed to handle both powertrains from inception. On-center steering felt good and grabby brakes brought our ride to quick halts as needed for continuous breaks during the challenge. The base wheel is a 15” alloy but you can upgrade to the Sports Package with 16” 8-Y-spoke rims.
If you have never driven a smart car then you probably have some pre-conceived notions of what it is and what it is not. I’ll tell you one thing, the smart fortwo is magically roomy and a unique, quirky thrill to drive in town. I rediscovered this emotion during an extended stay in Balboa Park and all its fascinations such as the World Beat Center which is one of the city’s cultural nucleuses offering vegan food, meditation sessions, and tribal drumming classes.
When the sun came out my drive partner and I opened up the tritop into sunroof mode. In this stage the cloth ceiling retracts towards the rear and can be done so while on the go. For a complete open air experience you would simply unlatch and remove the two roof bars and store them in the cargo area. Either or, there is minimal space for stowing items so remain cognizant of that when shopping, especially if someone is occupying the passenger seat. The headroom and legroom are great, but don’t expect to lean back in your chair!
The gadgetry of this green vehicle is just as smart as its name starting with a thick, 3-spoke, leather, multifunction steering wheel with a cadre of controls, the available smart Media-System with real-time traffic navigation and voice recognition, cruise control, Android Auto integration, Bluetooth audio play, optional rear park assist ($250), ambient lighting (prime package), six airbags, a standard rearview camera, crosswind assist, and much more. Additionally, smart has placed a dashboard-mounted power meter and clock to the left of the steering wheel so you are aware of what you vehicle is doing from an energy usage standpoint.
If a petite, electric drop top is your thing then the only current choice on the market is the smart fortwo electric drive cabrio; so your decision making will suddenly be simplified. MSRP starts at $28,100 with a few option packages like the $1,780 smart Media-System with JBL Sound (6-speaker and detachable subwoofer) or the $1,000 prime package with leather and LED lights. If you desire the hardtop then competition opens up to the FIAT 500e, Nissan Leaf, and Volkswagen eGolf.