2018 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive Cabrio

Are you hankering for a convertible EV? The 2018 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive Cabrio is the only one on the market for now.


Smart cars haven’t exactly taken off here in the U.S. The brand, made by Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz, has had underwhelming sales in North America since being introduced here in 2008. Last year, Smart stopped offering the gas-powered coupe and convertible in the U.S. and Canada and now only the electric versions are offered.


The two-passenger Smart Fortwo Electric Drive is available in coupe and cabrio models in Pure, Passion and Prime trims. Starting prices range from $23,800 to $29,100 before any federal or state rebates.


The range for the cabrio is 57 miles (58 miles for the coupe) although you can eke out 70 to 80 miles if you don’t drive with a lead foot, put it in ECO mode and/or turn down or turn off the heat or air. Pre-conditioning lets you heat or cool the interior while the car is still plugged in so that you can conserve range.


The Smart Fortwo Electric Drive is powered by an electric motor that makes 80 horsepower and 118 pound-feet of torque with a one-speed transmission.


“What’s it like to drive that tiny car?” I was asked multiple times during my week with the Fortwo. The short answer is it’s pretty fun!


Eighty horses may not sound like much, but the Fortwo is quick off the line. The cabrio can go from zero to 60 mph in 11.7 seconds. Top speed is limited to 81 mph in order to maximize range. Ride quality is decent; it’s surprisingly smooth and can even take little bumps in stride. Visibility is hampered to the rear.


The Smart Fortwo shines in the city. It scoots around in busy city traffic and you can park it just about anywhere, thanks to its petite 106-inch length and tight turning radius of 22.8 feet. Doing a U-turn has never been easier!


Driving on the freeway is a different story. While the Fortwo has no trouble driving at higher speeds, I felt like a miniscule speck surrounded by vehicles that were all much larger than mine. Clearly, this vehicle will not be your first choice if you plan to do a fair amount of highway driving.


Charging time is about three hours on a Level 2 240-volt plug and 16.5 hours on a normal 120-volt plug.


EPA ratings for the cabrio are 112 MPGe city and 91 MPGe highway with a combined rating of 102 MPGe. I got 139.5 MPGe during my week with mostly city driving. And I’ll boast that my ECO score was 99 percent!


You have a couple options for enjoying the open air. Touch a button and the soft top slides open and folds. Or you can have the full convertible effect with the soft top completely open. The cabrio’s top can open and close in 12 seconds.


The interior has a modern feel but it’s pretty basic and small, of course, as you’d expect. The fit for taller adults will be tight. One of my co-workers who’s about 6-feet tall is a big fan of Smart cars and wanted to go for a ride. He used up every inch of legroom.


The Fortwo doesn’t come with a lot of standard features. The Pure trim has cloth upholstery, automatic climate control, rearview camera, 3.5-inch instrument cluster display, audio system, Bluetooth, hill-start assist, rear fog lights and one cup holder.


The Passion trim has three cup holders, additional interior and upholstery colors, different grille colors, powered and heated side view mirrors, center console with pullout storage, and retractable cargo cover.


My tester has the Prime trim which adds leather upholstery, heated seats, automatic headlights, rain-sensing windshield wipers, steering-responsive fog lights, panoramic sunroof (in the coupe), LED taillights, and ambient lighting.


Options and packages include a couple different JBL audio systems; a Smart Media System with seven-inch touchscreen, navigation, Eco driving stats, rear parking sensors and Android Auto. The Sport package adds 16-inch black alloy wheels, brushed stainless steel pedals and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The Climate package includes a heated steering wheel and additional door and floor insulation to keep more heat in the car in order to increase efficiency and range in cold weather. Other options include an arm rest, JBL audio system and smartphone cradle.


No driver assistance technologies such as blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, lane keep assist or autonomous emergency braking are offered, even though they are getting more and more common even on  economy cars.


Since the Fortwo is so quiet, it has a standard acoustic warning system so pedestrians can hear you coming. The pitch and volume increase as the vehicle speed increases.


The cabrio has just under 9 cubic feet of storage. There’s a small hatch in the back and the front seat can fold flat if you need more room.


The good:

Fun to drive with its peppy handling

Excellent maneuverability

Small enough to park just about anywhere


The not-so-good:

High price tag

Only 57 miles of range

Limited features and tech

Lack of driver assistance/safety features


Pricing info:

My tester starts at $28,100. The armrest is $100. Rear Park Assist is $250. The Prime Package is $1,000 and adds leather upholstery, heated seats, rain-sensing windshield wipers, light-sensing front headlamps with cornering function, front fog lamps, fiber-optic LED daytime running lamps, cubic LED tail lamps and ambient interior lighting. The Climate Package is $200 and adds a heated steering wheel, energy-efficient climate control system with enhanced air recirculation feature and additional interior insulation. The Smart Media Systemwith JBl Sound is $1,780 and adds an infotainment system with seven-inch touchscreen display, navigation, voice control, ECO display, live traffic provided by TomTom for three years, point of interest search, JBL six-speaker sound system with five-channel DSP amplifier and removeable subwoofer. Destination fee is $750 bringing the grand total to $32,180.


Bottom line:

The Smart Fortwo will appeal to well-heeled city dwellers who want a little, zippy car that’s easy to drive and park in an urban setting. However, its price tag is steep and its range is very limited. But, hey, if you want an EV convertible, the Fortwo Cabrio is your only option.

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