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Smart ed Preview

Externally there's noting to differentiate the ed from any other Smart Fortwo and I would defy anyone to tell an electric and petrol Smart apart other than by the inevitably smug, self-satisfied look the driver of the former will likely be wearing. There's plenty of magic going on inside, however.

Currently the Smart ed uses a 'hot' nickel hydride battery, but production cars will use a 'cold' Lithium-Ion battery, supposedly improving performance and reducing charge times. I was advised a range improvement wasn't likely as a result of the change but that the improvements in other areas are definitely worthwhile. As it happens, Smart is a stakeholder in the company which produces the batteries used in the ed - which also supplies Tesla, among other electric car companies - so it has a doubly vested interest in ensuring their quality.

A full charge, Smart says, should take around eight hours, providing a 72 mile range, the equivalent of approximately 300mpg, sucking away at around £1 worth of electricity. While that's a maximum, it should still be more than enough for the average commuter to get to and from work, especially if there's facility to top-up the car in the office car park. Just don't expect to make it from London to Brighton with high beam headlights on and the radio blaring out at full volume.

The Zyxtel brushless motor used in the Smart ed provides 75bhp and 89lb ft of torque. By dint of being an electric car all of that output is available from standing and as such the car can reach 31mph in 6.5 seconds, continuing on to a limited 60mph. That's not exactly AMG territory, but driving about in fairly heavy London traffic I can't say I ever craved more acceleration.

Sitting inside the Smart ed is a disconcerting experience. Even when you know not to expect any sound, turning a key and hearing only a bleep to tell you the car is indeed turned on is just plain weird. What's even stranger is that, having pressed in the brake pedal to shift the Smart ed into drive, is how, at least driving around Shoreditch, little it felt like I was driving an electric car. Pressing on the throttle, instead of the rumble of a petrol or diesel engine I was subjected to a low pitched whine accompanied buy a not-inconspicuous amount of tyre noise.

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