Smart has fully revealed its new, SUV-shaped future, and it’s actually looking pretty good. The 2023 Smart #1 is the fastest Smart yet with 268 horsepower and some pretty decent range to back it up.
We’ve long known that Smart’s future hinged on a new all-electric SUV and backing off from a playful brand image. Smart has been teasing the new SUV for a while without saying anything substantial about it. That finally changes today, as Smart revealed the production Smart #1.
We’ll get it out of the way now. Yep, it’s called the Smart #1, or “hashtag 1” — not “number one.” The name is meant to be evocative of trendsetting and whatever is viral on social media this week. I’ve already gone over why this is a bit odd for a company that used to be trendy without telling you that it’s trendy.
As the first of a new generation of Smarts, the #1 is a sight glass into the brand’s new philosophy. Gone are cutesy elements like plastic panels moulded in a colour that contrasts with a highlighted safety frame. Instead, the #1 sports a design that looks an awful lot like Mercedes’ EV fleet. This is an evolution of what Mercedes-Benz started in 2014 with the third-generation Fortwo getting a Mercedes corporate umbrella face.
Hints of Smart’s past are carried over. The SUV comes with a floating roof arrangement that can come painted in a contrasting colour like the Tridion Cell did.
Inside, the design is pretty minimalist with a 9.2-inch LCD gauge, a 12.8-inch central tablet and a 10-inch head-up display.
There is LED lighting throughout, and Smart says that the interior is dolled up in premium materials. Five can sit inside, and Smart says that there’s as much room in there as there is in an E-Class.
On the technology front, you get a Level 2 driver-assist system with adaptive cruise control, adaptive high beam headlights, lane-keep assist, automatic parking, blind spot assist and a highway and traffic jam assist.
Other safety equipment includes seven airbags.
At 4.27 m-long the #1 is about the size of a Mini Countryman. That makes it the largest Smart ever put into production. It’s also the most powerful Smart put into production by a pretty huge margin. It rides on Geely’s Sustainable Experience Architecture, which underpins the Zeekr 001 and is set to be the platform for the Lotus Eletre.
Here in the Smart, it has a 66kWh battery good for up to 440 km on the WLPT cycle. Power comes from a single motor driving the rear wheels making 268 HP and 115 kg-ft torque. Smart says that the 1,820 kg SUV will top out at 180 km/h.
And for a neat hat trick, these door handles can break themselves out of ice, though Smart hasn’t specified how that works.
Charging is accomplished with a 150kW rapid charge capability that can fill the battery from 10 to 80 per cent in less than 30 minutes. Using a 22kW charger will net the same charge in about three hours.
The Smart #1 enters production at the end of this year with deliveries beginning in 2023. Smart hasn’t announced pricing just yet but it can say that North America is still not on its map. The SUV will be for Europe and China.