The smart #1 reinvents the smart brand for a new era. This compact full-electric hatch is still pretty spacious inside, with space for five, a sleek and stylish SUV-like exterior and an EV range of up to 273 miles.
The full-electric smart #1 can be ordered today with £0 Motability Advance Payment. The only model currently available is the 'Pro+' which boasts a 260 mile range and 272bhp (section updated February 2024).
Think of smart and you picture a tiny city car. But things are changing. The company is reinventing its profile as a style-led electric mobility brand and that will start with this car, the smart #1.
It is, according to its maker, 'the nucleus of all things to come'. Which means several things. First, that in the future, we'll see bigger smart models than we've been used to - this #1 is a small SUV about the size of a Kia Niro or a MINI Countryman. And second that while the design of future smart models will still be over-seen by parent company Mercedes (hence, for instance, the #1's EQ-style rear light cluster), platforms for the company's cars will in future be provided by the Chinese automotive group Geely, who now hold 50% shareholding in smart. In this case, that means Geely's 'SEA' 'Sustainable Experience Architecture' platform, a chassis also earmarked for a forthcoming compact crossover from Volvo. Big changes then.
The electric powertrain here sees a 66kWh nickel-manganese-cobalt battery power a rear-mounted motor putting out 268hp and 343Nm of pulling power, which should be enough for agile performance, despite the hefty 1,820kg kerb weight; expect rest to 62mph to take just 6.7s and smart has limited top speed to 112mph. Driving range is rated at 260 miles for the 'Pro+', 273 miles for the 'Premium' and 248 miles for the 'BRABUS'. Larger battery sizes are being considered - and smaller ones too - in a bid to make future entry-level variants more affordable.
At the top of the range is a 4WD Dual Motor BRABUS version with 422hp and 543Nm of torque. Paired with a specifically calibrated BRABUS driving mode, this results in a rapid 0-62mph performance of just 3.9 seconds. For most customers though, the smart #1 will be 2WD and, as usual with an EV, whisper-quiet. The advanced 'SEA' Geely-sourced platform should provide for taut handling and a supple ride. And smart is providing a range of autonomous driving tools, including Adaptive Cruise Control with stop and go, Lane Keep Assist, Blind Spot Monitoring, Highway and Traffic Jam Assist.
The look of this smart #1 gives us a clue to what future smart models will look like. This one's a small SUV and Mercedes-Benz Chief Designer Gorden Wagener, who oversaw the styling describes it as 'cool, fresh and enchanting'; you decide. The shape is characterised by smooth surfaces, a so-called 'flying' roof, a two-tone paint scheme and a sleek design that flows down over the C-pillars. The simple lighting signatures clearly reference Mercedes EQ designs like the EQA, particularly at the rear. And the wrap-around front light bar incorporates full-LED headlamps as standard. Early variants get large 19-inch wheels too. Emphasising the kind of size that's significantly larger than anything the brand has delivered before; this car is 4,270mm in length.
You enter via concealed door handles. In the minimalist cabin, the fascia's dominated by a 12.8-inch touchscreen which uses an AI-based infotainment system with a 3D interface and over-the-air updates. This is further supported by a 9.2-inch HD digital instrument screen and the option of a 10-inch Head-up display. You can have a novel 'halo' roof, which lightens up the interior. And a 13-speaker Dr Dre Beats audio upgrade will be offered. Out back, thanks to the lengthy 4,027mm wheelbase, there's apparently more room than you'd get in a Mercedes E-Class executive saloon. And you get a decently-sized 411-litre boot (421-litres in the 'Pro+').
In the main range, there are 'Pro+' versions, 'Premium' variants and top 'BRABUS' models that are unlikely to make it onto the Motability Scheme car list.
On all smart #1 variants, as standard, there's lots of media connectivity, courtesy of a central 12.8-inch touchscreen which is fully customisable and provides an interface for an avatar that responds to speech commands - from launch a fox, but other characters will be added. There's also a 9.2-inch full HD digital instrument binnacle. Top models get a Head-up display; and an innovative 'Halo roof' which makes the interior feel airy and spacious. Safety provision include seven airbags. And you can also specify an 'Advanced Driver Assistance' system package, which gives Adaptive Cruise Control with stop and go, Lane keep assist, Blind Spot Monitoring, Highway and Traffic Jam Assist, Adaptive High Beam headlights and automatic parking.
Smart doesn't have any solus UK dealerships. There are currently around 35 Mercedes-Benz franchises in the UK that also sell smart models, where the brand occupies its own separate space in the showroom with a dedicated smart sales person on hand.
The smart brand will start to sell this car with a 66kWh battery offering a range of up to 273 miles - that's for the mid-range 'Premium' version. The base 'Pro+' model manages 260 miles and the top 4WD 'BRABUS' variant manages 248 miles. Other battery options are expected to be added to the range in due course. Thanks to the car's 150kW rapid charge capability, the 66kWh battery can be topped up from 10 to 80% in under 30 minutes. Connect up to a 22kW AC charger and a 10-80% charge takes around three hours.
Range is maximised by the car's slippery shape - there's a sleek drag co-efficient of 0.29Cd, achieved thanks also to features like an active grille shutter and concealed door handles.
It's taken smart nearly three decades to come up with a car it might profitably sell in serious numbers in a mainstream market segment. Finally though, that's with what we've got with the #1, the first new model from the brand since 2014. It enters an increasingly crowded segment, but it's certainly different - and potentially very individual. In that sense, the #1 very much retains a smart spirit, as does the funky cabin.
This is a very different kind of car to what we've seen from smart in the past, catering for the completely different kind of audience this re-invented brand is now seeking. The smart brand has grown up. #abouttime.
People with a disability and carers who choose a new smart #1 through Motability will receive a brand new car, delivered by a Motability Specialist at a local smart dealership, complete with insurance, servicing and maintenance, full breakdown assistance, replacement tyre cover, windscreen repair or replacement cover plus a mileage allowance of 60,000 miles over three years.
This month, these smart Smarthash1 models can be ordered through the Motability Scheme: