What is this famous Smart #1 worth, the first electric SUV – and the first vehicle altogether – of the Mercedes-Geely era? After a first contact in statics last May, it’s time for the road test.
Renewal underway at Smart! Long gone are the days of the little Fortwo that we had fun parking perpendicularly. In 2022, the brand is launching its very first electric compact SUV: the Smart #1. A vehicle right on trend, which also and above all marks the ambitions of a more premium positioning. Direction Portugal, around the Estérel and along Cascais, for a boosted test. Please note, there is even Brabus on the program, and we will tell you about it at the end of the test.
Smart #1 in terms of look: styled and disheveled
Regular reader of Automobile Propre, you already know the look of this Smart #1 in detail. As a reminder, the brand’s electric revival therefore takes the form of a compact SUV. Thus, it is a beautiful baby all in curves that we have in front of us, with its rather soft and curved shapes. If our small group agrees to see Mercedes EQA at the rear, opinions differ on the front. Personally, (and squinting), I see a less racy and more playful version of the Kia EV6. What everyone is unanimous about is the originality of this floating pavilion which “caps” #1. We like it or we don’t like it, but it doesn’t leave anyone indifferent. Side logos, front and rear lettering, large 19-inch rims, beautiful panoramic roof, the desire for a premium image is there.
Overall, the electric SUV remains visually balanced, but still imposes its size. Its dimensions: 4.27 m long, 1.82 m wide and 1.63 m high. The short overhangs and the wheels stretched to the 4 corners of the vehicle give it all its presence. Only the front bumper breaks the blueprint with a few artifices, between dummy air intakes and grille anything but “functional” of course. The techno and high-end atmosphere begins as soon as you approach the vehicle. The LED strip at the front comes to life, and the flush handles unfold to welcome us. Responsive and very fluid features, as soon as you approach with the key to Smart #1. Note also the possibility of associating our smartphone as the vehicle key via the mobile application, for identical operation.
Life on board: good high-tech dose, tactile overdose
The Smart #1 welcomes us into a spacious cabin with a minimalist appearance. The interior is very airy, with its floating center console at the front maximizing storage space. Driver and passenger enjoy significant comfort, we are far from feeling cramped. The 2.75 m wheelbase and almost-flat floor benefit the rear passengers, who have plenty of knee space. As often, it is the place of the medium which fishes: file less comfortable and light protuberance of central tunnel oblige. In any case, the electric SUV offers good habitability on board, not to mention the sliding rear seat. In two parts, it moves 13 cm, increasing the trunk volume from 323 to 411 litres. To travel with 4 people with things in the trunk, it’s still a bit tight. The interior of the #1 is foamed from front to back, and bathed in beautiful Mercedes-style ambient lighting.
At the front, all the controls and functions are centralized on the 12.8-inch central screen. The Smart #1 introduces a “personification” of the voice assistant, materialized by a little fox. Absolutely superfluous, it contributes to the playful and colorful atmosphere of the interface. A very rich (even loaded) interface since EVERYTHING happens on the screen. Air conditioning (no physical buttons!), adjustment of mirrors, head-up display… And even opening the glove box. A little too Tesla for my taste, which generally requires you to take your eyes off the road for the slightest action. Even the mode selection button, touch therefore, is placed far to the right. We would have liked it more accessible, rather than demisting. The geek and premium atmosphere is there, just a little too tactile to the detriment of certain basic functionalities.
Performance and handling: typical comfort
Our Smart #1 Premium is based on a 200 kW (272 hp) engine and 343 Nm on the rear axle. Something to propel us in silence and with vivacity, like any good electric car. It is thus responsive to the pedal, docile in Eco mode, punchy in Sport mode, and balanced in Comfort. But what interests us is his behavior. Resolutely comfort-oriented, the electric SUV is both playful and somewhat imprecise. The Portuguese roads are ideal to attack a little in the turns and to jump the vehicle, which seems to ask only that. The small family is still caught up by its flexible damping and its format, which make it roll and understeer. The rear tends to want to move forward, and the body movements are a little too present. Dynamic driving enthusiasts: this is a straight-line car.
Concretely, the Smart #1 is not locked enough for a sports attack. Especially since the management transmits little information, which does not help. In any case, the helpers and assistants are always on the job to bring us back on the right track. The electronics are reactive without being too intrusive, at least as far as the ESP is concerned, for example. In Comfort on a country road, lane keeping gave us a surprising and unexpected steering wheel. Do not -too much- relax while driving on a winding road. The #1 therefore offers performance that the chassis and suspensions cannot withstand. Moreover, the Continental EcoContact 6 tires offer the grip and handling that stick to the family approach of the vehicle. His favorite area is urban and peri-urban comfort. And that, the compact SUV does wonderfully.
Consumption and autonomy: up to 440 km?
In terms of power, the electric SUV has a 66 kWh battery. Smart announces up to 440 km of autonomy, an average consumption of 15 kWh / 100 km. Ours fluctuates between 17.5 and 18 kWh over 90 km, or about 370 km of autonomy. Our route naturally invites you to try the different modes and to push the SUV from time to time. In daily driving (city, departmental) we went down to 17 kWh / 100 km in Eco mode, or about 390 km. Slightly different figures with the Brabus version, which climbs between 20 and 22 kWh. The Smart #1 can count on a 22 kW on-board charger to go from 10 to 80% in less than 3 hours. In fast charge 150 kW, we go to 30 minutes. A very correct performance in our opinion, what do you think?
And the Smart #1 Brabus in all this?
Style and watts! We start with the style. The Brabus version hosts some muscular and sporty attributes. False air intakes and more aggressive shield appear on the outside. All with specific rims, red piping and Brabus badges. The interior is more sporty, with a classic alcantara / red details combo. Works every time. But what changes “under the hood” is the addition of a front engine and all-wheel drive. All for a total of 315 kW (428 hp) and 543 Nm. A Brabus mode is added to the other three driving modes. There, the Smart #1 Brabus gives us a real kick in the butt. As a reminder, it shoots 0 to 100 in 3.9 seconds. On the road, it’s impressive responsiveness at every throttle.
But beware: SmartPilot, adaptive cruise control and other assistance are deactivated in Brabus mode. The rest of Smart #1 remains unchanged (chassis, suspensions, tyres), the behavior described above remains the same. The artificial stiffening of the steering only provides a feeling, but no improvement in sporty driving. Maybe provide different and more suitable tires for a better dynamic experience? We still feel the extra weight on the front, but a damping a bit less firm than the standard #1. The Smart #1 starts at €39,990 excluding bonuses, counting €47,490 for the Brabus version. The standard equipment is serious and consistent with the brand’s premium ambitions. One thing is certain, the revolution is underway at Smart. Somewhere between Peugeot e-2008, Opel Mokka-e, and other DS 3 Crossback E-Tense, the #1 is making a name for itself. And for a first electric, it is very successful.
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