introduction until we were sitting in the car. We reviewed the dash display first and he noted that the fuel gauge and charge gauge were top of the dash. This is somewhat familiar to me as I used to own a first generation Scion xB. The speedometer is where you might expect it to be in the dash behind the steering wheel. But at the bottom of the speedometer is a basic and comprehensive digital display. The display had a good deal more information, on the left there is a full change mileage and the current mileage and on the right is the time and external temperature. On the bottom there was a meter for driving economy and in the middle the large single-letter to indicate drive position.
My experience with small cars is somewhat limited, but it’s great to see the attention paid to the entertainment system. I would expect good things from Mercedes in general, but Smart is not screaming refinement. It does however say it’s name quite prominently with the in-dash radio. Although very basic too look at and use, the radio offers an intelligent system to access all the media from your phone, be it iPhone or Android (and likely Windows or Blackberry). Basically, if give it a disk drive it will read it, categorize it, and then make it ready to play. Navigation of the radio is done through the simple dial control, which is no more difficult that any other stock system.
We spent a good 20 minutes just talking about the ins and outs of the dash and base features of the interior. I was having such a good time that when I finally decided to roll out on the road, I’d completely forgotten to check the positions of the mirrors. Although the mirrors may be small, but you’ll never have trouble with visibility in a Smart ED; there’s not too much to get in the way. But the mirrors were of little consequence when it came to the drive.
Whoa Mama! This lil’ box has some guts. You’d never expect the sort of acceleration from such a tiny machine (short of a sport bike). Eric told me to push the pedal to the floor, but I did not get his meaning until seconds after the first turn. When you push the pedal all the way down, there’s a little give and you pass into afterburner mode. It’s almost unfair how much acceleration there is, even with the second person in the car, it still takes off like a rocket. I can only compare it to the one ride I’ve had a ride in a pre-production Tesla Roadster, but this time I was driving. Eric said that this acceleration is good up to 80 MPH and that in his test runs he could keep pace with a motorbike.
When we returned to the lot I wanted to test something out in the parking lot and I wish I’d had a video to show (hopefully next time). The turning radius of the Smart ED is barely more than 14 feet. That means that I could turn around in the space of two lanes, which is exactly what I did. To the chagrin of Eric and with most of the garage staff watching I did 4 complete circles in the driveway. It was just as exhilarating as driving, I’ve never driving a vehicle with a turning radius that is so small.
The list price for the Smart ForTwo ED is currently $25,000, but Mercedes is willing to offer the vehicle for $5000 less than the retail price, if the batteries are leased rather than purchased. And if purchased in California there’s an additional $2,500 from the California Air Resources Board (CARB). Plus the Federal Government offer a $7,500 discount on the taxes of the buyer. Also for those fortunate enough to live in the San Joaquin Valley, there’s yet another $3,000 rebate. After all these offers can cut the price down to $7,000 which is less than you’ll likely pay for a used, early model Smart ForTwo.
I won’t deny that this car might not be for everyone. It’s small, it’s tiny, it’s really barely more than the space of two people. You might be able to fit four bags of groceries in the hatch. But what it lacks in size it makes up for in fun. With twice as much torque as horsepower, it will knock you back in your seat every time. It’s under 9 feet long, so you’ll never have trouble finding a place to park. And from what I’ve seen numerous videos, it is actually possible to park perpendicular to the curb. When it accelerates, it’s like nothing I’ve heard in any other non-electric vehicle. Where I expect a monstrous roar is more likely the wind than an engine. I really quite like this vehicle and I feel like there will be one in my future.