Fully loaded

ElectraGirl: Six Months with the 2015 Smart Electric Drive

Saturday 25th July 2015

This week we will have had our 2015 Smart Electric Drive for six months, so what do I think of it six months down the road?

The Smart Electric Drive has certainly turned into one fun little car to drive, it is very much on the nippy side and is more than capable of holding its own in traffic, it’s relatively quick off the mark and can easily keep up with all the traffic. Just because it is small does not mean it is slow. Although, I do, from time to time, get people (usually SUV drivers) trying to intimidate me. Well, they picked the wrong person for that, there’s no intimidating me!!

2015 Smart Electric Drive - Flat battery

2015 Smart Electric Drive – Flat battery

The range on the Smart Electric Drive is around 80 miles per charge, although I can get more than that, if I have been driving. My son is the predominant driver and only drives the car a few miles a day and because the return journey is all up hill, the guess-o-meter is always being pessimistic. Of course we have managed 110 miles in the car, and can probably get that on a regular basis if I had 110 miles worth of driving to do each day! Which, thank goodness I do not.

One of the best and most obvious things about the Smart Electric Drive is the size of this car – for so many reasons – it is so easy to park – have you seen one parked in a parking space? It looks tiny! I know, I shouldn’t say that, but it does – and only I am allowed to say that as I have one! There is even enough room for another Smart Electric Drive in the same parking space. Now, there are not many Electric Cars that you can say that about. It’s a shame about those huge SUVs that sometimes park next to us though – you know the ones that always park just over the lines – just rude!

The Smart Electric Drive makes people look, I’m not sure what any of them are thinking though! Probably – ‘That is one small car’. I still get the big pick up trucks looking at the car and guess that they are probably still thinking the same as me – ‘That could fit in the back of the pick up truck’.

The Smart Electric Drive is easy to wash and dry, although I still cannot reach the middle of the roof! Seeing as I am unlikely to grow any taller, it is a given that this will always be an issue for me. I find that as the car takes so little time to wash, that I find myself unsure of whether I did all the sides, so I have to do a quick run round the car to double check! I’ve found that the front wheels do seem to attract road dirt quite a lot and I am not impressed by this at all, just more cleaning needed!

When out driving during heavy rain or in slushy snow, you can see the spray that the car produces as there is no back end – the rear wheels are the rear of the car. Ah – now this is when people hang back more and do not get as close to me, as the spray basically aims itself directly at the car behind – oops!!

Where most cars have a lot of space up front to house the mechanical parts, the Smart Electric Drive has everything up close, you can hear the electronics for the automatic wipers and the AC as they click on and off quite clearly. Despite all these little noises the car is still so quiet, which of course is why you can hear all the other noises so much.

Not even fully loaded

Not even fully loaded

With all that said about how small the Smart Electric Drive is, it has much more space inside it than you would ever imagine; we easily manage our weekly shop without any problems. Do you need 10 bags of salt for your water softener? Well if you do, no problem, it all fits in the boot – and it even remains on all four wheels – I had visions of the car pointing up to the sky!

A little rant – The Eco meter on the Smart Electric Drive, while amusing as I always want to get it to 100%, (which isn’t proving too difficult these days), is also a little on the frustrating side. When I leave the house with a fully charged battery and head off down the hill, there is no regen and I know and understand that I will not have any regen with a totally full battery. Nor, will I make any space in the battery as I am going downhill. But, my complaint is that I shouldn’t be penalised on the Eco meter for having a full battery. As I travel down the hill gently applying the brakes all the way down to the junction. the eco-ness percentage increases slightly, but as I get to the junction and apply the brakes more firmly to stop myself spilling out into the junction the eco-ness percentage decreases to below what I left the garage with. Now, it seems unfair to take percentages away from me when I have a full battery and cannot use any regen, it’s basically saying you are pressing the brakes too hard. Smart – I would like to see this fixed please. The Eco meter does seem to be a bit on the random side at the best of times. It should know when I have a full battery and when I am travelling downhill and need to use the brakes to stop myself exceeding the speed limit and crashing into another vehicle. I shouldn’t at any time be penalised for gently applying the brakes on a downhill and then pressing them more firmly as I approach the junction to stop the car. I also wish it could see those times when a random driver suddenly decides to pull out in front of me or the traffic lights change prompting an immediate stop. It’s not like I’m driving recklessly and fiercely applying the brakes – I’m always driving gently and giving myself plenty of stopping time. It is those random other things that cause sudden braking. I think the car should have sensors or a camera on the front so it can see that it wasn’t my fault and stop taking away my eco percentages. Ugh!! But, thank you for letting me rant about that as I do feel better now!

As we are at six months with the Smart Electric Drive, I thought I would ask my son what his thoughts on the car were and here they are.

The shift from the Mitsubishi i-MiEV to the 2015 Smart Electric Dive was bittersweet in the way that I had become so accustomed to the quirks of the i-MiEV and I was upset to see it go. However, getting to have a new driving experience in a different, better looking car was exciting. It was fairly obvious from the beginning that the Smart Electric Drive had a better, firmer build quality than that of the i-MiEV. I almost felt as if I could pull apart the i-MiEV with my bare hands as a lot of pieces didn’t look like they even fit together. I still enjoyed the i-MiEV, but I appreciate the sturdier quality of the Smart Electric Drive. The most surprising part of my experience with the Smart Electric Drive was that I could actually fit inside it despite being six feet tall. It is even smaller than the i-MiEV but somehow manages to have enough room inside for two people to sit relatively comfortably. It’s perfect for me because I only rarely drive with other people, and I’ve never needed more than a little space in the back to occasionally put a suitcase. The music system would be nice if it actually connected to iPhones but it’s not the end of the world, really. Driving it is nice, I suppose that’s the most important part, and also what I’m supposed to be writing about. It feels faster, and more nimble than the i-MiEV making sharper turns with much greater ease as there is almost no length to the car at all. Its size lends itself to how well it can maneuver along the road, and it can fit just about anywhere. It’s very uncommon to have any issues with other road users, because I’m usually too small to ever be in their way, although people will and have often tried to squeeze past me on a larger than average road because they think their SUV is the only thing on the road. Parking is a breeze, I can pretty much swing into a space and be done with it without any problems. I do get harassed a lot more on the road though, as a lot of big car drivers think they’re way too cool for manners, as driving at the speed limit is often frowned upon by New Jersey drivers. My only larger issue with the Smart Electric Drive is that is has a much weaker regen system than that of the i-MiEV. I find myself using the brakes (with the weirdest brake pedal design I’ve ever seen) to stop myself a lot more, especially when it’s on a full charge. Over time I’ve gotten used to everything the Smart Electric Drive does, and I think I’ve finally finished figuring out what all the controls do on the steering column. They were really avoiding the use of actual words to convey what those symbols mean. I would probably rate the Smart Electric Drive slightly higher than the i-MiEV, it drives much nicer, but its control markings could use some work. Overall, I’m quite happy to be driving it, it does the job, and it does the job well.


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  • My Smart ED has been driven altogether differently from yours. I’ve used the ECO meter as a bit of a challenge, the other day I reached 2% ECO on my drive home…
    Anyway, it’s a fun and great commuter car for me, and I take it in preference to the Tesla Model S that is in our driveway now. My wife seems to prefer the Tesla…not sure why. l-)
    The ability to squeeze into right turn lanes earlier than other cars, the ease of parking (especially in the winter when I get the choice of the spots that have been cut in half by snow plowed hills) and general enjoyment of driving are the key advantages of this car.
    >12000 km now in 1.5 years, no issues, never seen the dealer since purchase, and saved thousands on not buying gas.
    Wish Smart produced more of them, as the constraints on production and shipment to Ontario Canada mean that the car is highly sought after, but remains a niche vehicle, only around a few hundred sold here, even though the demand is much higher than that.

  • D Gatewood

    The Smart is really all the car one or two people need for most trips. I have used one on and off since their intro in 1998 but would really like to try the electric since this was to be the original concept when Swatch was involved.

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