Smart will preview its first SUV with a concept at this year's Munich Auto Show in September.
Smart is best known for its quirky compact city cars like the ForTwo, but has been forced to adapt to customer demands and enter the lucrative SUV segment. This is one of several radical changes the brand has made in recent years to stay relevant. After pulling out of the US market, Smart is now an electric-only brand. In September, Smart will preview its first-ever SUV with a concept at the Munich Auto Show, but new teaser sketches released by the company give us a sneak peek at the design.
Penned by a design team led by Mercedes design boss Gorden Wagener, the SUV concept adopts a new design language incorporating sleek headlights connected by a full-width light signature similar to the VW ID.4. The result looks far more premium than any of Smart's other models - the only recognizable Smart design cues are the funky floating roof and two-tone exterior.
"We have taken the opportunity to reinvent the brand," Wagner said, adding that the new fascia is "cool, sexy and grown-up instead of cute and playful." While the SUV is much larger than any other Smart car, it will still be compact with similar proportions as the Mini Countryman. Plastic cladding on the wheel arches, sharp character lines, and a set of roof rails make the concept look rugged, but we're not expecting it to be a serious off-roader. There is also no grille since the SUV will only be offered with an electric powertrain.
Smart's first SUV will be underpinned by Geely's Sustainable Experience Architecture, which supports single, dual and triple-motor configurations with up to 430 miles of range based on China's NEDC test cycle.
The compact urban SUV is expected to offer over 200 miles of range, which is double the range of the EQ ForTwo. Since the platform supports 800V technology, Smart's SUV should offer even faster charging speeds than Mercedes' EQ models. The interior will also be more high-tech than current Smart models with an advanced infotainment system similar to Mercedes' MBUX technology.
After the concept debuts in September, Smart's first SUV will go on sale in 2023 and will be one of the brand's most important new models in a long time. It remains to be seen if Smart will use the SUV to return to the US, but it could happen since the similarly-sized Mini Countryman is sold Stateside.