The definitive version of Smart’s all-new all-electric SUV has been revealed at a Berlin event. We were there to take the measure of this revival of the brand which leaves Hambach for China and redefines itself completely with its first model simply called #1.
Smart, episode 2: after having revolutionized the definition of the urban car, after having attempted a compromise with Renault and set foot in electrification, the brand is starting from almost zero within the framework of a joint venture between Daimler and Geely, in 50/50. To the German the design, to the Chinese (owner of the Volvo and Lynk & Co brands) the technical base and the industrialization. For marketing, responsibilities are shared between these two regions which are the brand’s starting markets, reborn. The goal is to take advantage of the electric wave to move upmarket and finally make Smart a profitable brand.
Thus, the #1 is a small SUV of 4.27 m with a design very faithful to the concept #1 presented at the start of the last school year. Based on Geely’s modular 100% electric platform called SEA (Sustainable Experience Architecture), the #1 will share this technical base with no less than 16 models from 7 different brands, starting with Zeekr which is unveiling it with its 001, the first model to leave the Chinese factory dedicated to this platform. Creativity for names is definitely not the forte of the Chinese in Geely, who named this Smart simply #1 (pronounced hashtag one). We will have to get used to this name, but we can doubt its correct pronunciation in our regions!
In a show featuring children with a very business language that Smart presents as its future leaders by highlighting its future prospects in broad strokes, the brand has taken over a typical Berlin industrial hangar for the world premiere of its small SUV in its final configuration. . Its design does the trick of dressing a rather square silhouette with very smooth and soft lines. To achieve this, the German designers have used certain artifices, including a front face with rounded lines, a painted insert in the raw plastic sill, doors without pillars, a floating and enveloping line of the roof and finally, a recess at the base of the rear window. The LED lights connected by a line of light are reminiscent in their light signature before the latest Citroëns, at the rear, more logically the Mercedes EQ, the treatment of the quarter panel has something of the Opel Adam but nevertheless, the “large petite Smart” has found an assertive personality, well planted on its 18 or 19″ wheels.
A style that can be found in the passenger compartment with its original dashboard, marked by rounded oblong shapes and a high central console which separates the front passengers like in some sports cars. A drastic but interesting choice, which provides closed storage in the upper part and an empty space below, ideal for putting a handbag. In the center sits a 12.8″ HD touchscreen tablet (standard on launch models) with an interface that seems a bit cluttered. The instrumentation is electronic (9.2″) and can be supplemented at the top of the range by a head-up display. No augmented reality or other high-tech display on the program here, but remote updates, as they should be. 64 colors of mood lights can be chosen, a panoramic roof is on the program, while 13 speakers dot the cabin of the versions equipped with the top-of-the-range Beats sound system.
The generous wheelbase of 2.75 m allows plenty of space in the rear seats, which can be adjusted thanks to the 1/3-2/3 bench seat sliding over 13 cm. The trunk offers a maximum volume of 411 l and is completed with a 15 l mini frunk, perfect for storing the charging cable. Access to the car is done using your smartphone, which allows you to extend access to people of your choice, even to organize a micro car-sharing system.
272 hp under the hood
For its launch, the Smart SUV clearly plays the dynamism card, with no less than 200 kW (272 hp!) and 343 Nm directly developed by the car’s rear engine. A propulsion which should remain efficient (0 to 100 km / h in 6.7 s, 180 km / h), but rather wise in behavior, with the inertia of its approximately 1,820 kg and without active suspension. Braking is entrusted to 4 discs of good dimensions. The substantial mass is justified by the large 66 kWh (gross power) battery, capable of offering 440 km of mixed WLTP autonomy. Not bad for a small SUV! The on-board charger offers 22 kW of power in series, enough to go from 10 to 80% in less than 3 hours, while in fast DC charging, it can collect 150 kW and perform the same recharge in less than 30 min.
Upgrading to premium
There remains the thorny question of the price, which it is still too early to define, almost 6 months before the opening of pre-orders, in the uncertain times that we live in. We bet that the launch definition (deliveries in January 2023), with two medium and high-end finishes, a large battery and strong engine power will lead the #1 to around €44,000 minimum, excluding bonuses, for the Pro model, the Premium model (including 100 copies of the Launch Edition) being more expensive. But with a more entry-level version and a smaller battery, it could later be offered at around €37,000, according to our estimates, i.e. the base price of a Peugeot e-2008 and a little more than a Hyundai Kona, of roughly equivalent size. The range is simple and almost without options and customers will be able to choose their model from stock among the 48 color combinations available, at a fixed price to be identical in concession (corners at certain Mercedes garages) or online. Charging station equipment solutions will be offered via a marketplace in partnership with ABB, and for public charging, a partnership with DCS is planned, failing to benefit from the preferential rates of the partners of the Ionity consortium, Smart being an entity with from Daimler.
We can also expect a sporty version, probably under the Brabus label, with two engines and therefore all-wheel drive. The start of a range development that will see Smart signed models in different sizes, easy variability with Geely’s modular platform. What to expect new hashtags…