And now a break from Active E coverage… The Smart Car 3rd Generation “smart fun drive”

For Earth Day 2013, I thought I’d do something fun. I test drove the soon to be released third generation Smart Car Convertible. Smart is touring the vehicle and allowing the lucky registrants test drives. The Los Angeles area run (at Santa Monica Place Mall in Santa Monica, CA) will be ending on the 28th of April. See here to register.

A $28,000 EV Smart car with some upgrades from previous generations. The most notable one is the $28,000 version is a CONVERTIBLE. Yes, you read correctly, the first production line convertible EV. Living in Southern California has its advantages. One of which is the fact that it is one of the locations where it actually does “make sense” to own a convertible. You definitely get enough perfect weather days to drive with the top down! Now, it’s funny to me to drive a Smart convertible because I think that the Tesla Model S with the Panoramic Roof opens up to practically the same amount of open space as a Smart Car convertible, but I believe you can buy three Smart Cars for the price of the Model S.


The instrument cluster for state of charge (SOC) and others are analog


The car comes with 17.6 kwh capacity and a stated 60-90 mile range. The onboard charging is at 3.3 kwh per hour, so a full charge on L2 from empty will take 6 hours. It does come with a convenience 120V charger, but that’s slow as well (like the ActiveE’s where it could take a day from empty.)


same picture with charger packed away.


And finally with the rear closed.


The car does not have any other drive modes than the single gear EV drive, so no Eco Pro or B mode that the Active E or the Nissan Leaf has. So, it really is up to the driver to adjust his or her driving style to maximize the range. The stated 0-60 mph is around 11.5 seconds, but it is rather peppy from 0-30 mph. The test drive was only on city streets, so I was unable to try it faster than the stated speed limits around Santa Monica Place.

As you can see in the pictures, I test drove the convertible. The hardtop is available for $3,000 less at $25,000. Now the Smart representative that accompanied me on the drive mentioned that this is the first of the three generations that customers can buy. The car was warranted for 4 years and 50,000 miles including the battery. To alleviate battery worries, Smart is introducing battery leasing to the USA and I did not get the details as, again, I drive a ton of miles and would probably hit the mileage cap on any capped lease in no time.

No DC Fast charging, just J1772 and, as I mentioned before at 3.3 kwh per hour.


The lit instrument cluster –


As a bonus for the test drive Smart will entertain you on the second floor of Santa Monica Place and provide free “beverages”. Additionally, you get entered into a drawing to win a two year lease of the vehicle and get emailed an offer for $500 off any Smart car that you decide to pick up.

A few pictures from the lounge on the second floor –






More pictures at flickr.

Would I buy one… Probably not. It was a fun, little car though. Drove much better than the ICE version of the Smart Car. Now, I’m waiting for that Fiat 500e. That looks like a fun, little car. More akin to the i3, but less functional, and more aesthetically pleasing.

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