2017 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive Cabrio First Drive

by Heather Platt | Posted on Saturday, July 8th, 2017

Some people don’t know when to quit. Chuck Wepner was one of these people. Wepner was famous for two things as a heavyweight boxer in the 1970s: having his face broken open (his nickname was The Bleeder) and going 15 rounds with Muhammad Ali in a title match for the championship. Ali, not surprisingly, beat the living daylights out of Wepner. On a world record list of tolerating senseless brutalization for far too long without admitting defeat or changing tactics, Wepner ranks high. On a list of successes, not so much.

2017 Smart Fortwo Electric

Much the same could be said of the Mercedes-Benz urban mobility subsidiary known as Smart. The company has spent almost 10 years in the American market now, building and attempting to sell an unerringly similar recipe of small, uncomfortable, homely, cheap, uninspired, inefficient, overpriced, subpar, fun-colored, rear-engine city vehicles – and has not gained an iota of traction. With all of the power and glory of the three-pointed star behind it, the brand last year ranked in the bottom three of total sales, just above Alfa Romeo, which had no cars to sell, and Bentley, which prides itself on selling as few cars as possible. Sales for 2016 were down 17 percent. They’re down nearly 20 percent more from there thus far in 2017. Alfa Romeo has sold more cars.

Did we mention that the car is slower, less spacious, and more expensive than any of its competitors? 60 mph arrives in nearly 12 seconds. It has only two seats, and less cargo room than a Speedo worn by Kevin James. We only drove the $28,000 convertible, but there’s a $24,000 coupe as well. It can travel only 70 miles on a charge.

With its battery pack down low and its motor over the rear wheels, the Fortwo seems far more stable than the rollerskating waiter is actually is. It does have one advantage, if you don’t count the ability to elicit sympathy from other drivers: It has an extremely tight turning radius.

This is practical, not only because the navigation system forks up so frequently that you will constantly find yourself pulling U-turns (we made five in an hour), but because if you find yourself in the unfortunate position of entering a Smart dealership, you can use this capacity to turn around immediately. You’ve got nothing to prove by taking it on the chin endlessly from a Fortwo ED. Don’t be a Wepner: Tap out and nurse your wounds in, well, anything else.


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