TEST of the first ever electric compact SUV

How much is this famous Smart # 1, the first electric SUV – and the first vehicle, period – of the Mercedes-Geely era worth? After a first contact in static last May, it’s time for road tests.

Renewal in progress at Smart! Gone are the days of the little Fortwo that we enjoyed parking perpendicularly. In 2022, the brand launches its first electric compact SUV: the Smart # 1. A trendy vehicle, which also and above all marks the ambitions of a more premium positioning. Direction Portugal, around Estérel and along Cascais, for an enhanced test. Keep in mind that Brabus is also on the program and we will tell you about it at the end of the test.

Smart # 1 in terms of looks: style and disheveled

Regular reader of Automobile Propre, you already know in detail what this Smart # 1 looks like. Recall that the electric revival of the brand therefore takes the form of a compact SUV. So, it is a beautiful baby all in curves what we have in front of us, with its rather soft and curved shapes. If our small group agrees to see Mercedes EQA in the rear, opinions differ on the front. Personally (and squinting), I see a less lively and more playful version of the Kia EV6. What everyone is unanimous about is the originality of this floating pavilion that “closes” number 1. We like it or don’t like it, but it leaves no one indifferent. Side logos, front and rear lettering, large 19-inch wheels, beautiful panoramic roof, the desire for a premium image is there.

Overall, the electric SUV remains visually balanced, but still dictates its size. Its dimensions: 4.27 m in length, 1.82 m in width and 1.63 m in height. The short overhangs and the elongated wheels at the 4 corners of the vehicle give it all its presence. Only the front bumper breaks the project with a few tricks, including fictitious air intakes and a grille that is anything but “functional” of course. The techno and high-end vibe begins as soon as you approach the vehicle. The LED strip in the front comes to life and the flush handles open to welcome us. Responsive and very smooth functionality, as soon as you approach Smart # 1 with the key. Also note the possibility of associating our smartphone as a vehicle key via the mobile application, for identical operation.

Life on board: good high-tech dose, tactile overdose

The Smart # 1 welcomes us in a spacious cabin with a minimalist look. The interior is very airy, with its floating center console at the front maximizing stowage space. Driver and passenger enjoy remarkable comfort, we are far from feeling cramped. Wheelbase of 2.75 m and – almost – flat floor benefit the rear passengers, who benefit from good knee room. As often, it is the place of the fishing vehicle: less comfortable rows and a slight protuberance of the central tunnel obliges. In any case, the electric SUV offers good roominess on board, not to mention the sliding rear seat. In two parts it moves by 13 cm, increasing the trunk volume from 323 to 411 liters. For traveling with 4 people with things in the trunk, it’s still a bit tight. The # 1’s interior is foamed from front to back and bathed in gorgeous Mercedes-style ambient lighting.

At the front, all controls and functions are centralized on the central 12.8-inch screen. Smart # 1 introduces a “personification” of the voice assistant, materialized by a small fox. Absolutely superfluous, it contributes to the playful and colorful atmosphere of the interface. A very rich interface (even loaded) since EVERYTHING happens on the screen. Air conditioning (no physical buttons!), Mirror adjustment, head-up display … and even glove compartment opening. A little too Tesla for my liking, which generally requires you to take your eyes off the road for minimal action. The mode selection button, therefore touch, is also positioned much further to the right. We would have liked it to be more accessible, rather than demisting. The geek and premium vibe is there, just a little too tactile at the expense of some basic functionality.

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 that pushes us quietly and with vivacity, like any good electric car. It is therefore responsive to the pedal, docile in Eco mode, incisive 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 for sticking a little in the curves and for jumping the vehicle, which seems to ask for just that. The little family is still fascinated by its flexible damping and size, which make it rollable and understeer. The back 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 sport attack. Especially since the management transmits little information, which does not help. In any case, the helpers and assistants are always working to get us back on the right path. The electronics are responsive without being too intrusive, at least as far as ESP is concerned, for example. In Country Road Comfort, lane keeping gave us a surprising and unexpected steering wheel. Don’t relax too much behind the wheel on a winding road. The # 1 therefore offers performance that the chassis and suspension cannot handle. In addition, Continental EcoContact 6 tires offer grip and handling that adhere to the vehicle’s familiar approach. 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 oscillates between 17.5 and 18 kWh over 90 km, or about 370 km of autonomy. Our route naturally invites you to try out the different modes and push the SUV from time to time. In daily driving (city, departmental) we dropped to 17 kWh / 100 km in Eco mode, or about 390 km. Slightly different figures with the Brabus version, which rises 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 quick charge 150 kW, it goes to 30 minutes. A very correct performance in our opinion, what do you think?

And the Smart # 1 Brabus in all of this?

Style and watts! Let’s start with the style. The Brabus version houses some muscular and sporty attributes. On the outside, false air vents and a more aggressive shield appear. All with specific rims, red piping and Brabus badges. The interior is very sporty, with a classic alcantara / red accents combination. It works every time. But what changes “under the hood” is the addition of the front engine and all-wheel drive. All this 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, shoot 0-100 in 3.9 seconds. On the road, it’s impressive responsiveness to every acceleration.

But be warned: SmartPilot, adaptive cruise control and other assistance services are disabled in Brabus mode. The rest of the Smart # 1 remains unchanged (chassis, suspension, tires), the behavior described above remains the same. The artificial stiffening of the steering provides only 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 up front, but slightly less stiff damping 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 premium ambitions of the brand. One thing is certain, the revolution is underway in 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 an electric first, it’s very successful.

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