Smart presentation #1: in the “Smarting blocks”

The final version of Smart’s all-new all-electric SUV has been unveiled at an event in Berlin. We were there to measure this revival of the brand, which leaves Hambach for China and completely redefines itself with its first model simply named #1.

Smart, Episode 2: After revolutionizing the definition of the city car, trying to compromise with Renault and gain a foothold in electrification, the brand starts up as part of a joint venture between Daimler and Geely in 50/50. For the Germans the design, for the Chinese (owner of the Volvo and Lynk & Co brands) the technical basis and industrialization. In terms of marketing, responsibilities are shared between these two regions, the brand’s reborn entry-level markets. The goal is to take advantage of the electric wave to become more expensive and ultimately make Smart a profitable brand.

The #1 is therefore a 4.27 m small SUV with a design very faithful to the #1 concept introduced at the beginning of last school year. Based on Geely’s modular 100% electric platform called SEA (Sustainable Experience Architecture), the #1 will share this technical foundation with no less than 16 models from 7 different brands, starting with Zeekr unveiling it with its 001, the first model to exit the Chinese factory dedicated to this platform. Creativity for names is certainly not the strong point of the Chinese in Geely who have simply named this Smart #1 (pronounced hashtag one). We will have to get used to this name, but we may doubt the correct pronunciation in our regions!

New Age

In a kids show with very corporate language that presents Smart 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. The design creates a rather square silhouette with very smooth and soft lines. To achieve this, the German designers used certain tricks, including a rounded-line front, a painted insert in the raw plastic sill, pillarless doors, a floating and enveloping line of the roof and finally a recess at the base of the rear window. The LED lamps connected by a light line recall in their light signature in front of the latest Citroëns, at the rear, more logically the Mercedes EQthe handling of the side panel has something of the Opel Adam, yet the “big little Smart” has found a strong personality, firmly planted on its 18 or 19″ wheels.

A style that can be found in the passenger compartment with its original dashboard, characterized by round, elongated shapes and a high center console that separates the front passengers as in some sports cars. A drastic but interesting choice, providing closed storage space in the top section and an empty space below, ideal for storing a handbag. In the middle is a 12.8-inch 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 with a head-up display. No augmented reality or other high-tech display on the program here, but remote updates, as it should be. 64 colors of mood lighting can be chosen, a panoramic roof is on the program, while 13 loudspeakers adorn the interior of the versions equipped with the top-class Beats sound system.

The generous 2.75 m wheelbase offers plenty of space in the rear seats, which can be adjusted thanks to the 1/3-2/3 seat that slides over 13 cm. The case has a maximum capacity of 411 l and is completed with a mini franc of 15 l, perfect for storing the charging cable. Access to the car is through 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 dynamics card, with a whopping 200 kW (272 hp!) and 343 Nm developed directly by the rear engine. A drivetrain that should remain efficient (0 to 100 km/h in 6.7 s, 180 km/h), but rather sensible in behavior, with the inertia of being about 1,820 kg and without active suspension. Braking is entrusted to 4 properly sized discs. The considerable mass is justified by the large 66 kWh battery (gross power), which can provide 440 km of mixed WLTP autonomy. Not bad for a small SUV! The built-in charger offers 22 kW of power in series, enough to go from 10 to 80% in less than 3 hours, while with fast DC charging it can collect 150 kW and perform the same charge in less than 30 minutes.

Upgrade to premium

There remains the thorny question of the price, which it is too early to determine, almost 6 months before the opening of pre-orders, in the uncertain times we live in. We bet that the launch definition (deliveries in January 2023), with two medium and high-end finishes, a large battery and a strong motor power, the #1 will lead to a minimum of about €44,000, excluding bonuses, for the Pro model, the Premium model (including 100 copies of the Launch Edition) is more expensive. But with a more entry-level model and a smaller battery, we estimate it could be offered later for around €37,000, ie the base price of a Peugeot e-2008 and a little more than one Hyundai Kona, of approximately equal size. The range is simple and almost without options, and customers can choose their model from stock from the 48 color combinations available, at a fixed price that is identical in concession (corners at select Mercedes garages) or online. Solutions for charging station equipment will be offered through a marketplace in partnership with ABB, and for public charging, a partnership with DCS is planned, not taking advantage of the preferential rates of the partners of the Ionity consortium, where Smart is an entity of Daimler.

We can also expect a sporty version, probably under the Brabus label, with two engines and therefore four-wheel drive. The start of a series development where Smart-signed models in different sizes, easy variability with Geely’s modular platform will be seen. What can you expect new hashtags…

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