Stick Shift: 2018 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive Coupe

Photo by: Brandon Randall

I’m a big believer in having the right tool for the right job. A vehicle is a tool of sorts. A mode and means of transportation. Over long distances, you’d want a nice, comfortable, soft sedan with good fuel economy. In great weather, with the sun shining overhead, you’d choose a convertible. Packing a bunch of kids and the family dog along, time to size up to a minivan or full size SUV. If you need to haul the boat, or help a friend move, maybe a truck is the right tool for the job. My point is, each class of car has its place, and when used within that realm, it will shine.

There’s nothing more confusing to me than owning a vehicle clearly intended for one thing and trying to force it into serving another purpose altogether. The highways are filled with oversized trucks without a scratch in their bed liners, or even a tow hitch poking out from beneath their rear bumpers. Still, lift kit installed, huge off-road tires in place, squeaky clean, without a trace of mud between their tread, there they are.

The Smart car is one of these tools. The 2018 Smart fortwo electric drive coupe is possibly the most specific kind of tool in the whole vehicle toolbox, thriving within its very narrow scope of use. Picture yourself in a big city, or suburban landscape, with a small garage and single wall plug. You’re married with no children, or single and don’t leave your bubble much. If that’s the case, the Smart car just might be the perfect fit for you.

I realize that from the outside, the Smart car is comically small. Getting past that though, the two-tone paint job looks great. Fog lights, 15” steel wheels with silver covers and the overall shape is funky and refreshingly different. You’ll find yourself bucking and bouncing over bumps and other road imperfections you wouldn’t have even known were there in a bigger car. But given its petite packaging, short wheel base and tiny tire size, this is to be expected. The Smart car can quite literally turn circles on a dime though. It’ll dart around slower traffic and zip about town like the little plug-in toy it is.

A 17.6 kWh lithium-ion high voltage battery bolted to a 60Kw three-phase electric motor delivers 80 horsepower and 118 lb-ft of torque. Everything sent to the rear wheels via a single-speed automatic transmission. This combination works great with the pint sized Smart car. Speeds in excess of 80 mph were achieved with ease, and with all that torque immediately available through the electric motor, the Smart car can really put a smile on your face like I wouldn’t have originally thought possible.

On the inside, the small car performs a bit of magic. Like the enchanted tent used by the Weasley family at the Quidditch World Cup, small on the outside, and impossibly big on the inside. This illusion is achieved through an enormous panoramic sunroof, tall side windows, a high roofline delivering plenty of headroom, and a simple, straight forward design and overall layout. The result is a wonderfully airy, sun-filled space that brings the outside world in. From the passenger side especially, you’ll be amazed by the space you have. Go ahead and be over 6’2”, add long legs and a rotund belly, you’ll still ride along in surprising comfort.

All the nice things are present too. The passion cloth seats and leather steering wheel are heated. There’s a 7” touch display that’s easy to navigate, an 8-speaker surround sound system by JBL, Bluetooth connectivity, climate control and more. I really appreciated the simplistic approach to the controls. The center gauge behind the wheel has sharp, digital graphics and a three dimensional design, layering different elements to give it depth. Strangely enough, the fold-down sunglasses compartments above the driver and passenger seats are made of cheap plastic, and seemed out of place in the otherwise quality interior. On the whole though, I found the Smart car interior to be a very enjoyable place to commute around town in.

After clocking a good number of miles in the 2018 Smart electric coupe, my opinion about it has completely changed. Where before, I saw the Smart car as impractical and dangerously small; now I see it for what it is, a specific tool. In the wide range of vehicles, the Smart car has its place, it has its use. A very specific tool that you’ll find perfectly suited for its intended job.

By: Brandon Randall

Price as tested: $29,810.00

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