Track Tested: 2011 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive Passion

Track Tested: 2011 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive Passion


Well, there it is in all its tiny, electric-powered glory: The Slowest Car Ever. Heretofore known as the 2011 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive Passion.

We knew this was going to be a fun day at the track the first time we took a look at the press kit for the 2011 Smart Fortwo electric car. "The maximum speed of the Smart Fortwo electric drive has been intelligently calibrated to reach 62.5 to create an ideal learning scenario for gauging the performance of the lithium-ion battery while maintaining typical city speeds."

That's right, the maximum speed of the electric Smart is only 2.5 mph above our 0-60 test, and way below our 0-75 test. Hell, we even use 70 as a target speed for generating sound data.

So it can't do 65, gets a range of 63-98 miles on a full charge and costs $599/month if you commit to a four-year/40,000-mile lease. That's $28,795 for a car you don't own. The Nissan Leaf, for example, runs $32,780.

But price isn't the point here, performance is. Just how poorly did the little Smart do? Follow the jump to find out...

Vehicle: 2011 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive Passion

Drive Type: Transverse, mid-mounted-electric motor, rear-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Single-speed direct drive
Battery Capacity: 20 kW (30kW peak with "kickdown" function)
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 89 pound-feet
Steering System: Electric-assist rack-and-pinion
Suspension Type (front): MacPherson strut, antiroll bar
Suspension Type (rear): DeDion axle, coil springs, shock absorbers
Tire Size (front): 155/60R15
Tire Size (rear): 175/55R15
Tire Brand: Continental
Tire Model: ContiPro Contact
Tire Type:  All-season
Wheel size: 15-by-4.5 inches front 15-by-5.5 inches rear
Wheel material (front/rear): Aluminum alloy
As tested Curb Weight (lb): 2,082

Test Results:

0-30 (sec): 5.6
0-45 (sec): 11.4
0-60 (sec): 22.4
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 22.1
0-75 (sec): N/A
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 22.0 @ 59.5

30-0 (ft): 32
60-0 (ft): 120

Slalom (mph): 53.5 (Only the Ford F-350 Super Duty King Ranch Crew and Mercedes G550 did worse) 
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): 0.69 (better than the G550)

Db @ Idle: 39.2
Db @ Full Throttle: 67.7 (62.5)
Db @ 70 62.5 mph Cruise: 66.5


Acceleration: Picks up about three tenths with pedal overlap on "launch" but this car is still painfully, excruciatingly slow. Interesting to find two throttle stops (soft and hard) as well as a speed limiter at +/- 62 mph (100 km/h) which arrives well after a quarter-mile.

Braking: The Smart EV's brakes are connected directly to the master cylinder -- like real brakes and not hybrid brakes -- so even though there's regen, the ABS does what is expected: pretty dramatic forward pitch and impending lockup. Expected short stop considering this car weighs 2,000 pounds.

Skid pad: Hyper-conservative non-defeat ESC limits progress with both speed reduction (closed throttle) and brake dabs. Steering feel is quite good despite somewhat springy action.

Slalom: Again, hyper-vigilant non-defeat ESC punishes exceeding the prescribed limits by a hair -- it dynamites the brakes so hard that the fronts lock up and the car literally goes straight despite the wheels being pointed otherwise. How is this a good thing? May avoid a tippy situation, but would/could also invite a different, equally dangerous outcome, yes?

Once all that was complete, we had a little fun...

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