by Adam Lynton
It's the final model year for the Smart EQ Fortwo, a pygmy all-electric car that never took-off in the U.S. market - which really is no shocker considering all the hulk-mobiles that run the American streets. This was only worsened by the fact that the EQ Fortwo never did quite match up to pretty much every other EV available in the market either, offering a meager 58 miles on a full charge, and a level of practicality that's beaten by the basket mounted on the front of a bicycle. The third-gen Smart EQ Fortwo is a rear-motor, rear-wheel-drive compact hatchback developed in conjunction with Renault. The EQ Fortwo is equipped with a 60kW synchronous electric motor, which generates a puny 80 horsepower and 118 lb-ft of torque. There aren't many cars that directly compare with the Smart EQ Fortwo, likely because every other manufacturer apart from Mercedes knew how unSmart of an idea something like the EQ Fortwo would be. The Fiat 500e is the closest rival and doesn't really impress either - it's no small wonder then that both of these pint-sized pluggers have been pulled from the US market.
With the Smart EQ Fortwo's confirmed demise, Daimler has kept the 2019 model completely unchanged for its final year. Any enhancements or changes would have been too little, too late anyhow, with the diminutive electric vehicles' popularity gushing down the drain over the past few years. A level one charger is now included with Smart Fortwo as standard, but that's hardly a benefit with the lineup's base price increasing by $100 from the last model year.
The EQ Fortwo carries a very unique appearance, easily discernible by its diminutive bug-like body and two-tone color palette. Defining the front-end is a small U-shaped perforated grille accented with the Smart logo and an EQ badge on the one side; it's flanked by squared headlights comprising LED daytime running lights, and underscored by a perforated black lower-skirting grille, which on the Prime trim plays host to the LED fog lights. On the rear-end are honeycomb LED taillights and high-mounted brake lights, with no exhaust pipe for the emissions-free car. While the baby 15-inch steel wheels are enough to fill the wheel arches of the Pure, the plastic hub caps are an eye-sore. The Passion and Prime's 15-inch five-spoke light-alloy wheels are definitely a better look.
The Smart EQ Fortwo is a diminutive compact hatch, making even the Fiat 500e look big. It's significantly stout in appearance, with its tiny body measuring only 106.1 inches in length, enabled by a tight wheelbase of only 73.7 inches. It squats at 61.5 inches in height and is, without the mirrors, 65.5 inches in width. That makes the EQ Fortwo 36.3 inches shorter than the 500e with a 16.9-inch shorter wheelbase too, but only 0.5 inches taller and 1.4 inches wider. With a curb weight of 2,363 lbs, the EQ Fortwo is just upwards of 600 lbs lighter than the 500e.
There are ten playful exterior colors available for the EQ Fortwo, with Black, White, and Red being the only cost-inclusive options. Metallics are featured in Cool Silver, Autumn Brown, Lava Orange, Midnight Blue, and Black-to-Yellow, which is a limited option, and all carry an additional charge of $350. Moon White Matte and Titania Grey Matte can be optioned on for $450. The Tridion Cell on the Passion and Prime trims can also be optioned in one of six colors; Black, White, Red, Jupiter Red, Cool Silver, or for $100, Lava Orange or Graphite Grey Matte. The Lava Orange suits the EQ Fortwo's funky character, which pairs well with the Graphite grey Matte with either of the two upper-level trims.
With a diminutive car comes an equally as inconsequential motor; it's a rear-mounted 60kW electric motor that provides the rear wheels with 80 horsepower, but a decent 118 lb-ft of torque. Although acceleration isn't particularly fast with those outputs, the motor lugging the EQ Fortwo from 0-60 mph in a steady 11.4 seconds, it feels reasonably peppy by virtue of the engine's supply of instantaneous torque to the rear wheels of the tiny coupe. Its top speed is electronically limited to only 81 mph, however. The EQ Fortwo is the only rear-wheel driven EV in its class - the 500e, and most of its other rivals being solely front-wheel-drive.
The EQ Fortwo's 60kW electric motor is coupled to a single-speed direct-drive transmission with which it, unsurprisingly, operates reasonably smoothly. Off-the-line acceleration is instant thanks to the electric motor's 118 lb-ft, as it is with any electrified vehicle, though the accelerator pedal in the EQ Fortwo will require constant flat-footed inputs in order to achieve reasonable acceleration. It gets up to middling speeds around 40 mph fairly quickly, but anything above that is a tedious task to pursue. It's on the highway where things quickly get a lot more slow-going as well; even at full throttle, acceleration is painfully gradual. Merging into traffic and commencing overtakes will not only require copious amounts of patience and planning, but some serious bravery as well.
The EQ Fortwo's ride quality is severely hindered by its ridiculously minuscule wheelbase, making the mobile shoe box feel incredibly bouncy over anything bigger than a pebble - a crying shame, considering that most city streets are less than perfect. This means typical undulations and even minor road imperfections will clearly be felt through the cabin.
As for general tootling around, the EQ Fortwo feels comparable to any other super-subcompact hatch; it's a little punchy and snappy around the bends, and as nimble as one would imagine for such a short car. Its steering is always light, but it gets number as speeds increase. Changing lanes and going around bends at even middling speeds is also rather hair-raising, as the car feels excessively tippy. Where the EQ Fortwo shines is in its magnificent turning radius: this little coupe could just about perform U-turns on a single lane road. This is what makes the EQ Fortwo a great city runabout. Other than that, we wouldn't suggest using the highway at all.
For its all-electric motor, light weight, and diminutive size, the EQ Fortwo seriously fails to impress in the way of gas mileage. With its 60kW electric motor and single-speed direct-drive transmission, the compact hatch returns EPA estimates of 124/94/108 MPGe city/highway/combined, which sound impressive to start. But with its 17.6kWh battery fully charged, the EQ Fortwo is availed with an all-electric range of only 58 miles - putting it on par with the electric range of a Chevrolet Volt, and not with leading electric hatchbacks like the Chevrolet Bolt, which can achieve 238 miles on a charge.
On a 240-volt power outlet, the EQ Fortwo's battery can be fully charged from flat in two and a half to three hours, while anything up to 21 hours is needed on a standard 120-volt household power outlet.
Though reasonably well-built, most of the cabin materials are low-grade, made up of predominantly cheap-looking hard-touch plastics. The dash is swathed in a thin fabric layer along with the key touchpoints located on the doors, which are also hard to the touch. The seats are set with an upright position, and the seat cushions are overly firm, making them uncomfortable to occupy for long durations. Cabin room is otherwise impressive, more than ample for both passengers to stretch out in. There's little to no adjustability offered with the steering wheel and seats, and heated seats are only featured in the range-topping Prime. Ingress and egress with the EQ Fortwo are reasonably easy by virtue of the high set seats and doors that are pretty much as wide as the car itself.
As the name suggests, the EQ Fortwo is just for two. Its equipped with two tall-back sport-like seats that look good, yet have hard seat bases and aren't very comfortable at all, especially over long durations. At least the occupants are positioned with quite a commanding view of the road with seats set high and in an upright position affording exceptional visibility. It also helps that you can pretty much touch the back of the car at a full stretch, so you're never at a loss for spatial awareness. Unfortunately, the steering wheel offers no adjustability whatsoever, seats are four-way manually adjustable as standard, with only driver seat height-adjustability offered in the Passion and Prime. The interior layout is otherwise attractive and ergonomically set up, and there's surprisingly more than ample cabin room in the tiny EQ Fortwo - much more than one would initially imagine.
The interior of the EQ Fortwo is made up of mostly low-grade hard-touch materials, and the seats are available in a very limited selection of materials and colors. The Pure comes standard with Black fabric seating surfaces, with Black synthetic leather optional. The Passion receives the most variety in color with its standard fabric seats optional in either black/orange, black/white, or just black. The Prime gets only the standard-fit black synthetic leather seats.
It's no surprise that there's not much offered in terms of practicality when it comes to the teeny weeny EQ Fortwo, with a mere 8.9 cubic feet of space offered in the trunk. That's enough room for a city-slicker's daily essentials, such as a laptop bag, a gym bag, and maybe a couple of grocery bags. The passenger seat does fold down flat, which can be useful if the driver needs to transport something on the longer side, but versatility is still no strong suit of the EQ Fortwo.
There's not much at all offered in the cabin of the diminutive coupe either, with tiny door-side pockets found on each door, neither which are capable of holding bottles; three tiny cupholders that'll only take small-size cups, a short, shallow dash storage tray, and a very compact glove compartment. The Passion and Prime also get a small center console storage bin.
Features are relatively limited and rather basic in the Smart EQ Fortwo, even on the premium-spec model. Standard features at the base level start with power doors and windows, a three-spoke multi-function steering wheel that's neither able to tilt nor telescope, air conditioning with automatic climate control, a dashboard-mounted power meter and charge indicator, 3.5-inch color display in the instrument cluster, and a flat-folding passenger seat. In the way of driver aids, there's an integrated rearview camera, cruise control, hill start assist, and crosswind assist. The Passion adds on to the necessities list with a height-adjustable driver's seat, power and heated side-view mirrors, a retractable cargo cover, and a center cargo storage slot. The Prime gets a little more luxury, featuring heated seats, a panoramic power-operated sunroof, and ambient interior lighting as standard.
As a modern car that's meant to be geared towards city-slickers, the Smart EQ Fortwo is relatively bare in terms of infotainment technology at the standard level. All models come outfitted with a puny 3.5-inch color display that's tethered to Smart's stock audio system. It features Smartphone voice recognition, Bluetooth audio streaming and hands-free calling, but no Android Auto or Apple CarPlay functionality. Between the seats is a USB port for device charging only as well as an SD-card slot and auxiliary input for audio connectivity. For the Passion and Prime trims, there's an optional Smart Media-System with JBL Sound Package, which comprises a seven-inch high-res touchscreen with navigation, live traffic provided by tomtom, and Android Auto integration, along with an eight-speaker JBL sound system.
There have been no recalls sent out for any Smart EQ Fortwo Coupe for the last two years, with only a couple thousand sold, it's firmly placed in the 'limited sales volume' category. Smart's warranty coverage is rather uncompetitive, especially for coverage of an all-electric vehicle. While most manufacturers cover the electric components of their hybrid and all-electric vehicles with ten-years/100,000-miles worth of coverage, Smart only offers coverage for eight-years/62,000-miles, along with an unremarkable limited bumper-to-bumper warranty of four-years/50,000-miles.
The NHTSA has only evaluated the 2017 model year gas-powered Fortwo Coupe, which the authority accorded an overall safety rating of four out of five stars. The IIHS gave that same model top scores of Good in only two specific evaluations. With the significantly low sales volumes of the EQ Fortwo version, neither authority has been obliged to offer safety ratings for the latest iteration.
Every EQ Fortwo comes with an impressive eight standard airbags including dual front knee airbags, an electronic stability program with hill start assist, ABS, crosswind assist, cruise control, and a rearview camera. A proximity warning system and rear park assist are available only for the Passion and Prime trims. The EQ Fortwo also features a Tridion safety cell that's supposed to strengthen the hatch's frame for increased rigidity, which has, however, been proven to be more detrimental to safety than beneficial, since it reduces the car's crumple zones.
The Smart EQ Fortwo Coupe is an easy vehicle to turn away from as there are simply just too many other all-electric vehicles that offer better value and far greater capability at around the same price. The EQ Fortwo will impress with its incredibly tight turning radius and nimble maneuverability, and maybe with its instant torque provided off-the-line too, but that's where the diminutive coupe's perks end. Beyond that, the EQ Fortwo is an impractical all-electric vehicle, offering a menial range, subpar ride quality, and inadequate out-of-town performance. It feels overly tippy around corners, feels vulnerable, and inspires very little confidence on American streets. Its seats are uncomfortable, and interior materials low-quality; the standard infotainment system is slow and limited in functionality, and - finally - it takes way too long to charge on a typical household power outlet. The Smart EQ Fortwo may be an optimized city commuter, but that's what limits it as well, and regardless of its limitations, it's a mid-grade, at best, high-cost vehicle that offers minimal value for money. Prospective buyers would do far better spending a little extra on a Chevrolet Bolt EV that offers more than four times the all-electric range and a better package in all regards.
Initiating the lineup is the base model Pure, which carries a sticker price of $23,900. It's followed by the mid-spec Passion, which is priced slightly higher, at $25,390. At the top-end of the lineup is the Prime with its a sticker price of $26,740. All prices are excluding Smart's destination charge of $750 as well as any tax, registration, or licensing fees. Smart states that owners of the EQ Fortwo will be eligible for a tax credit of up to $7,500 in the U.S. and those in California will be given full access to the H.O.V. lanes. Those living in Illinois can access rebates of up to $4,000, however, with the popularity of EV's rapidly increasing in the U.S., government and state rebates will soon be withdrawn.
The EQ Fortwo lineup comprises three trims, the standard-spec Pure, the mid-spec Passion, and premium-spec Prime.
Starting the lineup off is the EQ Fortwo Pure, outfitted with 15-inch steel wheels with plastic hub caps. It gets LED daytime running lights and taillights, rear fog lights, and a black Tridion cell with matching mirrors and grill. On the inside, the Pure gets power-operated windows, automatic climate control, and a flat-folding passenger seat. Covering safety is an integrated rearview camera, standard cruise control, crosswind assist, and an electronic stability control system with hill start assist. For infotainment, there's a 3.5-inch color display tethered to a Smart audio system with Bluetooth audio streaming.
The Passion rides on higher-quality 15-inch Y-spoke light-alloy wheels and is fitted with powered and heated side-view mirrors. It also comes with some added necessities, including a height-adjustable driver's seat, a center console with pullout compartment, and a retractable cargo cover. This model and the Prime receive increased personalization capabilities in color and get access to the lineup's optional packages.
The premium-spec Prime brings some added luxury to the lineup with a power tilting and sliding panoramic sunroof, black leather upholstery, ambient interior lighting, and heated seats.
There are no optional packages available for the Pure as the standard model of the lineup, however, for the Passion and Prime there are five optional packages.
Already fitted to the Prime is the Lighting Package, which is available for the Passion for $400 and includes U-Shaped integral LED daytime running lamps and fog lamps with cornering functionality.
Optional for both the Passion and Prime is a $200 Climate Package, which has the prerequisite of including the optional heated front seats. It comprises additional door and floor insulation for comfort and climate efficiency, and a heated steering wheel.
There's also a $450 Sport Package, which equips the EQ Fortwo with 16-inch black Y-Spoke wheels, a leather-wrapped sport steering wheel, and brushed stainless steel pedals with rubber studs.
For $1,290, the Smart Media-System can be optioned on, which comprises a high-resolution seven-inch touchscreen with navigation and live traffic provided by tomtom, point-of-interest search and 3D display, ECO display functions, a rear-view camera with Park Assist, and Android Auto smartphone integration.
The $1,780 Smart media-System with JBL Sound grouping includes everything in the Smart Media-System plus a 240W eight-speaker sound system, removable subwoofer, and six-channel DSP amplifier.
With the Pure model not getting any availability to the lineup's optional packages, and considering that there's only a minor price hike from the mid-spec to the top-spec model, we recommend opting for the top-of-the-line Prime. It comes standard with a few extra luxuries such as a panoramic sunroof and heated seats, adding some novelty at least. We recommend ticking the boxes for the available Sport Package for the leather-wrapped sport steering wheel and other sporty enhancements, as well as the Smart Media-System with JBL Sound Package for the upgraded infotainment system. If you want a heated steering wheel, throw in the available Climate Package as well, which also adds some additional door and floor insulation. Of course, this is all assuming you really, desperately desire an EQ Fortwo, which you really shouldn't.
The Bolt EV takes our vote right off the bat; yes, it's significantly more expensive at $36,620, but it's the better vehicle in every regard. It's equipped with a 200 hp, 266 lb-ft electric motor that scoots the Bolt from 0-60 mph in an impressive 6.5 seconds, a full four seconds faster than the EQ Fortwo. Not only is the Bolt EV more economical, returning EPA estimates of 128 MPGe city and 110 MPGe highway, but also accords the Bolt EV with an all-electric drive range four times that of the EQ Fortwo's, at 238 miles. The Bolt EV is also a whole lot more practical and versatile, with seating for up to five passengers and a trunk capacity of 16.9 cubic feet. The tech in the Bolt EV also trumps the EQ Fortwo's, with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality featured as standard from the base model. It's clear that the Bolt EV is the undisputed winner in this comparison; if an EV is on your wishlist then the Bolt EV is certainly worth the more premium price.
The Fiat 500e is just under $10,000 more expensive than the EQ Fortwo and is equipped with a larger 83kW electric motor driving its front-wheel-drivetrain with greater outputs of 111 hp and 147 lb-ft. The 500e is faster off-the-line with those outputs, getting from 0-60 mph in the mid-eight second range - more than two seconds faster than the EQ Fortwo. It's more efficient with that motor as well, offering mileage estimates of 121/103/112 MPGe and up to 84 miles of range from its larger 24kWh battery pack. Though the EQ Fortwo offers about two cubic feet more trunk space than the 500e, but the 500e comes with seating for four - those rear seats are significantly cramped, but offer more usable space for cargo, too. We really don't recommend any of these vehicles, but if you really have to get one, the 500e is the lesser of two electric evils.