For 2013, Daimler is updating the Smart ForTwo and for the first time offering a choice of a gasoline or electric powertrain in either coupe or convertible models.
The gas version is a minor update of the one we tested in 2008, complete with that car's jerky single-clutch automated manual transmission. The regular version did not perform well in our tests. For that reason alone, with electric version is worth a closer look if you have your heart set on a Smart. However, we drove an earlier version the Smart electric drive (back then known as "ED") in 2010 and found it surprisingly slow and noisy for an electric car. This version has some updates.
Its closest competitor will be the Mitsubishi i, which has the advantage of having four seats. The electric Smart will use a 73-hp electric motor driven by a 17.6-kWh lithium battery. This gives the electric Smart a claimed range of 100 miles.
We've found such range claims need to be discounted by about 25 percent for the real world, but that should still take it farther than the I, which claims only a range of 80 miles.
Smart claims the electric will accelerate from 0-60 mph in 13 seconds, about what we found with the earlier gas version, and reach a top speed of 83 mph.
Both versions go on sale next month. We look forward to seeing if the ForTwo has made measurable, daresay "smart", improvements.