Smart's New Electric SUV Is The Start Of A New Era

Reveal / 11 Comments

The Smart #1 looks to be one appealing EV.

Just last week, Smart released the final teaser for its #1 electric crossover. Now, the much-awaited EV is here and, we have to say, it's quite the looker. Should the Mini Cooper Countryman PHEV be worried? Let's find out.

From a styling perspective, we certainly think so. The camouflage did the shape no favors but now we can see the swoopy shape for what it is.

The influence of Mercedes-Benz is obvious. There's a premium air about the #1, with a minimalist design uplifted by lovely details such as concealed door handles and intricately styled 19-inch wheels. The organic shape may not appeal to all, but it's a far greater success than the brand's previous offerings. Despite appearances, this isn't a large SUV.

It has stayed true to the concept's dimensions, measuring 169 inches long. It stands slightly higher though, at 71.7 inches tall. Unsurprising for an EV, the #1 is a fairly heavy little SUV, tipping the scales at 4,012 lbs.

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Lugging all that weight around shouldn't be a problem for the rear-wheel-driven #1. With 268 horsepower and 253 lb-ft of torque courtesy of an electric motor and the 66 kWh NCM battery, top speed is pegged at a rather pedestrian 112 mph but, then again, this is likely to be of little interest to the average Smart #1 buyer.

On the WLTP cycle, Smart claims the #1 can travel between 260-273 miles on a single charge. Plugged into an AC charger, the electric SUV can charge from 10% to 80% in three hours or so. A far more practical DC charger sees that time reduced to around 30 minutes. Smart has said that owners can opt to have a wallbox charger fitted to their homes. as an accessory.

But the highlight of this package has got to be the delightful cabin. Pop the pillarless door open and you're greeted by a beautiful interior. The dashboard curves into the center console like a piece of inspired architecture, creating a fresh ambiance.

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Modern it may be, the #1's interior avoids any gaudy touches. Stuttgart's influence is plain to see; the air vents aren't unlike those found on the S-Class Mercedes, for example. A 12.8-inch display takes pride of place on the center console and will appeal to tech-savvy customers. The feature-rich infotainment system controls most of the functions, from navigation and climate control to lighting and sound. Naturally, there's ambient lighting as well.

Technology abounds; the #1 will utilize AI-based voice control within its user interface. Teamed with an "intelligent" avatar, both are tied to the Smart's ecosystem, app, and data clouds. The SUV benefits from over-the-air updates, allowing 75% of all the ECUs in the vehicle to be continuously improved and updated.

Smart says the different profiles allow the vehicle to be set up to the respective driver's needs, a boon in a household where multiple individuals share one car. The large touchscreen is bolstered by the 9.2-inch digital instrument cluster and the 10-inch head-up display.

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Despite the compact dimensions, occupant space hasn't suffered. The 108-inch wheelbase offers plenty of interior space, with rear passengers benefitting from surprising amounts of legroom.

Pricing is yet to be announced, but the Chinese market will likely gain access to the #1 first. European pricing will follow thereafter. At this stage, it's unclear whether Smart will relaunch in the US. The brand didn't leave the States on good terms but, as we've seen, there's a massive market for electrified crossovers locally. If priced correctly, the #1 may find success here.

After all, Mini has enjoyed great success with its electrified Mini Cooper, proving there is a market for quirky electric vehicles. Peculiar nomenclature aside, the #1 is shaping up to be a rather appealing compact SUV.

"We are very proud to finally present the production version of our smart #1. It is not only a symbol for our new smart approach, but it is also the nucleus of all things to come," said the company's CEO.

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