2023 Smart SUV revealed: price, specs and release date

The Smart #1 is an all-new electric SUV that comes with a tech-filled interior and an array of sophisticated safety features...

2023 Smart #1 front tracking

On sale: Summer 2023 | Price from: £32,000 (est)

One way of catching people’s attention is to get a topic trending on social media. So, perhaps that’s why the all-new Smart #1 has been given a hashtag style name. After all, this electric SUV is meant to kick off a new era for the brand, and that’s something it wants people talking (or tweeting) about.

Designed by Mercedes, but engineered with the help of Chinese firm Geely, the #1 is the first new Smart to be launched since the Fortwo EQ city car two years ago. It’s also the brand's first ever SUV. The closest rival in terms of size and positioning is the Peugeot e-2008 but non-electric small SUVs including the Audi Q2, Mini Countryman and Volkswagen T-Roc are also in its sights.

Beyond the name, another way the #1 is looking to stand out is with its funky design, which was previewed by the No. 1 Concept in 2021. The production #1 looks very similar to that concept: clean, aerodynamic and futuristic.

2023 Smart #1 studio rear

Under the skin, the finished car sits on bespoke electric underpinnings that house a single, rear-mounted electric motor producing 268bhp and 253 lb ft of torque. It’s combined with a 66kWh battery, with the #1 expected to have a range of 273 miles on the official WLTP test cycle. That trumps the 208-mile official range of the e-2008, although the bigger Kia e-Niro can officially manage up to 282 miles.

At its maximum charging speed of 150kW, the #1’s battery can be topped up from 10-80% in 30 minutes, while a 22kW charger will do the same job in three hours.

It’s also worth noting that the #1 could be a good option if towing is your thing, because it can pull up to 1600kg. The Tesla Model 3 and Volkswagen ID.4 – both more expensive electric cars – can tow 1000kg and 1200kg respectively.

2023 Smart #1 studio front

A cheaper version of the #1 with a smaller battery is rumoured to be on the way, and because the underpinnings are scalable, a whole line-up of new electric Smarts could be in the pipeline. The firm hasn’t ruled out a faster, dual-motor performance variant. 

Tech is at the forefront of the #1’s appeal. Inside, you’re greeted by a 12.8in touchscreen that houses Smart’s all-new infotainment system (the rival e-2008 makes do with a 7.0in or 10.0in screen).

The Smart system controls almost all the car’s functions, including the navigation, media and climate control settings. It lets you save preference profiles for different drivers, and 75% of the car’s functions can be upgraded with over-the-air updates.

2023 Smart #1 interior

Below the screen sits a bank of touch-sensitive shortcut buttons. They could potentially be tricky to use while driving because they don’t give haptic feedback, although there is an audible click when you press them.

In addition, Smart is hoping to minimise driver distraction with its AI Fox ‘Avatar’, which essentially acts as the car’s personal assistant within the main screen, like Amazon Alexa. It responds via a “Hello Smart” voice command and can control most functions, although we haven't had a chance to test it yet.

Occupants can connect their smartphones to the Smart #1 using the Hello Smart app, which includes a digital key that allows you to unlock the car. From the app, you can also check the status of the car remotely and programme features such as the climate control before you get in.

2023 Smart #1 interior screen studio

The driver gets a 9.2in digital instrument display, which is clearly laid out and features crisp graphics. Plus, the most important information is projected on to the windscreen using a 10.0in head-up display.

Having had the opportunity to sit in the Smart #1, we can confirm that the seats are nicely supportive and there’s lots of adjustment for the driver's seat and steering wheel. Over-the-shoulder visibility is compromised by thick rear pillars, although a 360-degree reversing camera will help mitigate this when parking.

The materials on display are mostly of high quality, and the indicator stalk, gear shifter and steering wheel buttons all have a pleasantly tactile feel. It’s only in less noticeable areas, such as low down on the doors, that you find a few scratchy plastics.

2023 Smart #1 interior steering wheel

In-car storage is impressive, with two cupholders in the front, large bins on each door, and a vast centre console cubby between the driver and front passenger. There are also five sockets to charge your devices, including 12v, USB and USB-C charging in the front, and USB and USB-C in the rear.

The beauty of the Smart #1 being exclusively electric and based on bespoke underpinnings is that the engineers haven’t had to leave space for a bulky engine, gearbox or exhaust system, freeing up a lot of room for occupants. Rear leg room is plentiful, even behind a tall driver, and the rear floor is flat (great news if you end up sat in the middle). Six-footers won’t be left wanting for head room, even when a sunroof is fitted.

2023 Smart #1 back seats

The rear seats fold in a 60/40 configuration and feature a central ski hatch. The seats can be lowered from the boot using a couple of pull straps. Once they’re folded down, there’s no step in the extended load floor, so it's easy to slide in larger items.

If you want more luggage space but still need to carry rear passengers, the rear seats can slide forwards on rails. This feature is likely to come in handy because the boot is on the small side, offering just 273 litres of space when the rear seats are slid fully back. For comparison, the e-2008 provides 434 litres and the Countryman 450 litres.

2023 Smart #1 tailgate

More positively, the Smart #1’s main boot features a good amount of underfloor storage space, and there’s also a 15-litre ‘froot’ under the bonnet of the car, where you can stash the charging cables.

From launch, three trim levels will be offered: Pro Plus, Premium and the Launch Edition. Only 1000 Launch Edition cars will be sold worldwide, and they feature a unique exterior colour combination and chequered patterns throughout, including on the leather seats, sunroof and alloy wheels. 

As far as safety goes, the #1 will be available with seven airbags, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, blind-spot warning, automatic parking and high-beam assist. UK trim levels and standard equipment are still yet to be confirmed.

2023 Smart #1 front boot

When buying a new Smart, customers will have the choice of ordering completely online or through a dealer. The online service in particular will be at the forefront of the company’s new business model, although the dealer network is being retained so customers can go and see the cars in person and drive them before buying. 

In the UK, an eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty will be offered on all models for the electric drivetrain, while the rest of the car will be covered for three years and unlimited mileage.

Pricing is yet to be confirmed, but we expect the #1 to start in the region of £32,000 for the entry-level Pro Plus. This is in line with the e-2008, which starts from £33,700. The rest of the range will go up to approximately £35,000 and £38,000 for the mid-level Premium and range-topping Launch Edition respectively. Order books will open in September, with the first UK deliveries planned for Summer 2023.

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