Everyone knows the original Smart, that little EQfortwo two-seater that could squeeze into parking spots normally reserved for motorcycles or shopping carts. Now though the automaker is reborn as an all-electric brand and this is its first dedicated electric vehicle, the Smart #1.
It’s an all-new compact crossover SUV, so not as small as the original Smart or four-seat EQforfour either, but the EV still isn’t huge either. We looked at it closely and its size is reminiscent of, say, a slightly smaller Mercedes-Benz EQA or, perhaps, the Mini Countryman.
That’s hardly surprising in a way, given that the Smart #1 was lovingly crafted by Mercedes-Benz designers. Meanwhile, Geely will assemble the car in China as the two manufacturers have a 50% stake in the company.
In terms of likely European customers, #1, or hashtag 1, is a practical family car, which should appeal to those considering the likes of the Kia e-Niro or Peugeot e-2008. The car won’t reach the US since Smart exited the US market in 2019.
A whole new direction
This car is smart’s first all-electric model and is designed to take the company in a whole new direction.
If you’ve always loved the eccentricity of the Smart brand, there’s a lot to love with the #1. It’s also been built from the ground up on Geely’s all-new SEA (Sustainable Experience Architecture) platform, so there’s plenty to discover.
The 66 kWh battery pack in the Smart #1 launch spec delivers 268 horsepower, 253 pounds of torque, and a top speed of 112 mph in a rear-drive configuration.
It will be able to charge CCS Type 2 AC from 10 to 80% with 22 kW in 3 hours. Super-fast DC charging will reduce that to less than 30 minutes, while the Smart #1 range should be in the range of 273 miles.
tough on the outside
One of the biggest differences with the Smart #1 from the company’s previous production is the space on offer.
The car is 4.27 meters long, 1.83 meters wide and 1.6 meters high with a wheelbase of 2.75 meters, so it’s certainly bulky enough to appeal to anyone with a family who needs some extra space. space inside.
There are also big 19-inch wheels, which have been pushed to all four corners of the car because they sit on that purpose-built SEA electric architecture. This adds to the chunky but upright look of the car.
Up front, there are triangular-shaped LED headlights, a design theme that could also feature on later new models. The look is similar to the rear, with wraparound taillights.
In between, the soft lines are enhanced by recessed door handles. Meanwhile, a really nice design is the floating roof, which is made all the more effective by being finished in a contrasting colour.
The interior of the Smart #1 is certainly inviting. You’re immediately drawn to the floating center console, which is funky enough to remind you that you’re sitting in something from the Smart brand.
There are plenty of handy little covered storage bins here, while the seats either side look inviting and will come with vegan trim options.
There’s a central 12.8-inch touchscreen with a 1920 x 1080 resolution and it looks great thanks to graphics that emphasize Smart’s slightly goofy edge. This provides access to a host of infotainment settings, including personalized driver profiles, navigation, climate controls and audio.
AI-based voice commands are also expected to be popular, as is the ability to use your phone as a key.
If you’re seated behind the wheel, you’ll get a 9.2-inch Full HD digital instrument cluster, along with a 10-inch heads-up display.
A suite of driver aids is also available, which includes adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go function, active lane keeping system, blind spot assist, highway and traffic jam assist, as well as only automatic park assist and adaptive high beam assist for good measure.
Family in every way
The Smart #1 was designed to provide all daily necessities and definitely seems family friendly, especially when it comes to entertaining passengers.
It’s also an open and airy environment inside, which is always a plus if you frequently transport young children who regularly get sick. The halo glass roof on the models we’ve seen helps on that front by improving the feeling of space.
If you desperately need a distraction for fussy kids, you can easily entertain them with ambient lighting. This comes with a selection of 64 colors and no less than 20 different lighting levels, offering the possibility of improving the ambiance inside.
Handy if you’re trying to lift your spirits on a long trip while having to make lots of toilet stops along the way.
As you’d also expect from a car aimed at families, the Smart #1’s luggage capacities are solid, with the boot offering between 273 and 411 liters of space, depending on whether you need to fold the seats down or not.
The rear seats also slide forward for more flexibility. A 15-litre trunk provides additional storage space up front should you need it.
An impressive start for Smart
We haven’t had a chance to drive Smart #1 yet, but the car is impressive. It should be available for purchase later in the year and, based on presentations at the Berlin reveal, there could be other cars to follow.
Again, these will be based on the SEA platform, which offers smart designers scalability. That could, theoretically, mean larger or smaller models to help boost smart’s all-electric renaissance.
However, it appears there are no immediate plans for smart to relaunch the brand in the US. Too bad perhaps, especially since the Smart #1 seems perfectly suited to the future needs of American motorists.