2023 Smart electric SUV: what we know so far
The first Smart SUV will be fully electric and is expected to have an official range of up to 434 miles, while futuristic features include facial recognition technology...
On sale: 2023 | Price from: £34,500 (est)
It's a rare thing to have your cake and eat it, but that's exactly what the new Smart electric SUV is aiming to let drivers do. It combines a futuristic design with good interior space, and a long range with cutting-edge technology designed to make driving easier and safer. That could all end up being a very tasty recipe indeed.
Based on the Concept #1 car shown at the Munich Motor Show in September, this will be Smart's first SUV, and will feature frameless doors and a panoramic sunroof designed to create the illusion of a floating roof.
As these photographs show, there are constellations of LEDs linked by slim light bars in place of headlights and rear lights. The futuristic design also features touch-sensitive light bars instead of door handles.
It’s unlikely that all those details will make it on to the final production model, which Smart is expected to put on sale in 2023. The touch-sensitive light bars, for example, could be replaced with more conventional handles that won’t be disrupted by poor weather conditions.
Thicker pillars will also be added between the front and back doors for better side-impact crash protection, and entry-level models could get conventional LED lights instead of the adaptive LED light clusters of the concept. We also expect the concept's four-seat interior to be changed to a more conventional five-seat layout.
The as-yet unnamed SUV's interior should have a similar amount of space to other electric SUVs, including the Kia e-Niro and Mercedes EQA, so your holiday luggage shouldn't pose any problems.
The relatively compact size should be helpful when it comes to manoeuvring around town – especially when you find a tight parking space. Indeed, the manufacturer's existing models, the Smart ForTwo and Smart ForFour electric cars, are both known for fitting into spaces most other cars couldn't manage. We'd also expect the Smart SUV to have a tight turning circle and quick, light steering.
A 12.8in infotainment screen will be the focal point of the interior, and it will update wirelessly to unlock new features without the need to visit a dealer.
Facial recognition tech is expected to be included as standard. The system will identify registered drivers as they approach the car, and automatically adjust settings based on the user's preferences – for example the seating position and radio station.
A Beats Audio stereo will be available, although it will probably be an optional extra as part of a partnership, similar to Audi’s tie-up with Sonos.
Smart has not revealed which batteries or electric motors it plans to fit to the car, but Geely – the company engineering the SUV – is likely to use the same underpinnings as the Chinese-market Zeekr 001 electric car for high-end versions. That model has a battery capacity of up to 100kWh, and a range of up to 434 miles between charges.
Entry-level models of the Smart SUV will use Geely’s 86kWh battery, which is capable of providing more than 300 miles of range between charges. Both batteries support 800v rapid charging, which allows them to charge from zero to 100% in just under half an hour (if you can find a powerful enough charging point).
Those figures put the Smart SUV in a strong position to take on the giants of the segment. The BMW iX leads all electric vehicles on sale in the UK for range, managing up to 392 miles between charges in xDrive50 specification. The Smart SUV’s 434-mile expected range shows how EV technology is advancing rapidly.
The 86kWh battery’s range of more than 300 miles puts it on par with range-topping versions of the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and in the ballpark of the Volkswagen ID.3 Tour Pro S, which can officially cover up to 336 miles on a single charge.
The SUV’s range will be a big improvement over those of the Fortwo and ForFour, which stand out because of how limited they are. According to WLTP figures, the ForTwo can do 84 miles per charge, while the ForFour can only muster 81 miles before it needs to be plugged in.
Smart hasn’t given details of pricing yet, but it’s likely that some versions will start just below £35,000. It is expected to be in contention with high-end versions of the ID.3, and entry level versions of the e-Niro and Skoda Enyaq iV.
Range-topping versions of the Smart SUV equipped with the 100kWh battery could reach £45,000. That puts them in the same sphere as the EQA, both versions of the Audi Q4 e-tron and the Ford Mustang Mach-E. At that price, it could offer tempting value because it would have a longer range than the £91,905 BMW iX xDrive50 for less than half the price.
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