Taking Smart's 2013 Fortwo Electric Drive for a San Francisco spin

Step inside

The doors are almost awkwardly big

Visibility was remarkably good. In other compact cars, we often feel like we're looking out of the port hole on a ship, but there were near perfect viewing angles throughout the Electric Drive.

There's no real trunk to the vehicle, just a hatch that opens up to a flat, 7.8 cubic foot space where you could probably put one large suitcase on its side. Our laptop bag and camera bag fit fine, however it only took one quick stop to send our laptop bag into the space behind our seat. Perhaps it should have been there in the first place.

For a car that has nothing more than the standard automatic controls and a steering wheel, it drove incredibly well. We pulled maneuvers we'd never dream of in our Subaru hatchback, cutting through traffic to make an almost-missed turn with an almost effortless ease.

Acceleration was top notch too, and even when going at higher speeds the car never felt rickety or cobbled together as some smaller sized cars can. Hitting cracks and divots in California's notoriously crumbled roads wasn't jarring, either.

pit stop

A pit stop...for the driver, not the Smart car

It sank into turns, and hugged the curves of Lombard Street with an iron grip.

A bit of anxiety came over us whenever we came to a stop sign or had to make a left turn through traffic as we imaged who would win - us or the minivan.

Clearly aware of safety concerns, the Smart team spent plenty of time talking about the Fortwo's eight air bags and tridion safety cell, which was described as similar to a roll-cage in a race car.

We brought the perception of un-safeness up to Webster, and he told us that safety ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Association are due in a few weeks, but that the company is "very proud" of the preliminary numbers.

There were some downsides to our drive. Braking was unpleasant; the effort had a sticky quality to it. Sudden stops, as we said before, sent our back-area cargo flying, making us hesitant to test out quick decelerations. At times, it felt like we really had to press to make the brake go down.

The brakes always worked, but you want to be 100 percent sure that your car is going to stop when you have tourists on Segways flying in front of you.

The front slope of the Electric Drive led to some weird spatial perception, especially in parking, but we're sure we could get used to judging distances more accurately with more practice.

Smart claims there are over 7,000 color configurations

Smart says there are over 7,000 color and upholstery combos alone for its vehicles

The deal

As nice as our mid-morning tour of San Francisco was, money was the real reason Smart invited us to eat sandwiches and tool around in its cars. Starting today, the company is offering the 2013 Fortwo Electric Drive for a newly reduced leasing price of $139/month, down from $199/month, for 36 months. That price is tallied after a $1,999 down payment and includes an $80/month battery rental through the battery assurance program.

The program gives drivers a 10-year warranty on their juicers and covers both defects and capacity, though it's not mandatory.

The lease is only available where the 2013 Fortwo Electric Drive is sold, meaning only zero emission states. Those include California, Oregon, New York and New Jersey.

If you'd rather purchase the car out right, Smart will charge you an industry-low $25,000 after a $2,000 rebate on the coupe model. The convertible will roll in at $28,000. Government tax credits, which can run up to $7,500, can also bring down the price.

Bottom line: If you're willing to front the dough, coordinate charging and want a car primed for driving in an urban environment, the Fortwo Electric Drive is worth exploring.

If you're satisfied with the status quo, you still might want to take it for a test drive. Fun isn't a quality the Fortwo is missing.

Michelle Fitzsimmons

Michelle was previously a news editor at TechRadar, leading consumer tech news and reviews. Michelle is now a Content Strategist at Facebook.  A versatile, highly effective content writer and skilled editor with a keen eye for detail, Michelle is a collaborative problem solver and covered everything from smartwatches and microprocessors to VR and self-driving cars.