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2018 Smart ForTwo Electric: The world's cutest convertible

Charles Fleming, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Automotive News

There's no learning curve. The Smart is easy to operate, and fun to drive. Parking is hilarious -- you can almost fit two in a standard metered parking space -- and the turning radius is so tight that while you can't literally turn on a dime, you can maneuver easily in very narrow situations.

The stiff suspension helps with cornering, while also, unfortunately, accentuating every wrinkle in the pavement. The regenerative braking system -- which uses the electric motor to slow the car down and return energy to the battery when the accelerator is released -- makes for almost one-pedal driving. The brakes will last a long, long time.

Dashboard displays and a dash-mounted energy gauge provide data on energy use, battery power and remaining range. A very small rearview screen, housed inside the rearview mirror, improves the limited visibility.

It's easy to forget, once behind the wheel, what a tiny car this is. The driver and passenger space is substantial for a small sedan. I had plenty of leg room and head room, and was hardly aware when I was driving that there was very little actual car in front of me or behind me.

The design ethic is attractive and minimalist -- still bearing the mark of the Swatch input. Two cup holders sit in the center console. There's a small storage pouch in the door, and a very tiny glove compartment, about big enough for a pair of actual gloves.

As for trunk space, well, no. There is a little cubby behind the seats, but you won't be bringing your golf clubs along unless you're planning to putt-putt at Scandia or Sherman Oaks Castle Park.

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It was difficult for me to be sure, from the mixed city and highway driving I did, how accurate the EPA-approved range on this ForTwo would be in real life.

But I did have the opportunity to test the home charging situation. For me, on a common household plug, the ForTwo's stated EV range rose from 28 miles to 52 miles after a 10-hour overnight charge. A second time, the overnight charge raised my range from 13 to 35 miles.

Those nervous about BEVs will say the overnight charge is too slow, and indeed it takes a very long time to bring the battery from empty to full from a standard household socket.

But most commuters won't be doing that. Instead, they'll be topping up, juicing from 60 percent to 80 percent, say, and storing enough energy to do their daily drives.


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