If you like the idea of the smart fortwo ED but can’t live with two seats, the forfour could be for you. It’s worth saying upfront that you get an official range of 78 miles which translates into somewhere between 50 and 90 miles in the real world. If that isn’t going to work for you, stop reading now.
So if you’re still reading we can assume that limited seating and range aren’t a problem for you, so what else do you need to know? Well this is the fourth generation of electric smart; with a trial fleet launched in 2007 smart has had a while to finesse the technology and with battery supply coming from a Daimler subsidiary and the motor hailing from Renault the key components have provenance.
On the move the ED is the best forfour to drive. It’s superbly suited to the urban environment for which it’s designed. The compact dimensions and instant torque make nipping into gaps in city traffic a breeze whilst the stunning turning circle provides a get out of jail card if you end up down a dark ally. The short wheelbase, rear weight distribution and regenerative braking acting through the rear wheels also enable a lively balance at higher speeds which is much more interesting than the terminal understeer you tend to get in city cars.
The interior is standard forfour which means well designed, interesting to look at and well appointed. One big surprise however is the lack of any adjustment on the steering wheel. Given the petrol forfour allows height adjustment we can’t quite work out why this isn’t possible on the ED. Depending on your height this could be a make or break issue, so make sure you have an extended test drive.
Given the limited range it’s good to know that you can pre-heat or pre-cool the ED whilst it’s plugged in to the mains, there is also a very effective ECO mode which does knock back performance noticeably but also delivers a big improvement in range. It’s also laudable that smart has provided both an analogue battery charge gauge and an electronic one, both of which are very clear and tell you battery charge to within 1%, so if you do run out of electricity there are no excuses!
The onboard charger now accepts 22 kW charging which means you can recharge from 0 – 80% in 40 mins at a 22 kW chargepoint, but you can’t use Rapid DC chargepoints. The small battery makes this less of an issue than most EVs, but it’s worth knowing if you do need rapid charge capability the ED won’t be on your list. Other issues include a very firm ride and a lack of regenerative brake settings, so you either have to have it set to maximum or use a radar-based system, neither of which are ideal.
The forfour ED is fun to drive and brilliantly suited to urban running. In the context of small electric cars it is also sensibly priced. It offers more space than the fortwo but no more range, which is a shame as it does make the ED a niche proposition, but if it meets your needs there is much to like.
Estimated real world range: 50 – 90 miles
Official range: 77 – 78 miles
Official electricity consumption: 170 – 171 Wh/km
Battery pack: 17.6 kWh (gross) lithium ion; 8 year / 62,500 mile warranty
Recharge time: 240 v 6 hours (20% – 100%); 7 kW charge 2 hours 30 mins (20% – 100%); 22 kW 40 mins (0 – 80%)
Please note that CO2 emissions quoted for electric cars are not directly comparable to diesel and petrol cars. This is because CO2 emissions quoted are calculated by Green Car Guide and include the emissions created at the power station turning fuel (e.g. gas etc) into electricity and in transmitting and distributing the electricity to an end user. They do not include the actual production of the fuel (e.g. gas extraction and refinery emissions). Petrol and diesel emissions are supplied by car manufacturers and are based solely on the fuel burnt in the engine (tailpipe emissions) and do not include the production of the fuel or distribution to a fuel station. In practice this means that electric car emissions are over-estimated relative to petrol and diesel. For instance if an electric car, a petrol car, and a diesel car are all reported to emit 100 g/km CO2, the electric car actually has lower emissions.