Smart #1 long-term test: report 2

The #1 is the first offering from the reborn Smart brand. We’ve already given it a five-star rating, but what’s it like to live with day-to-day? We're running one to find out...

Smart #1 rear cornering

The car Smart #1 Premium Run by Mark Pearson, used cars editor

Why it’s here To see if the trendy #1 cuts it in everyday use and how it stacks up against its many polished competitors in this growing class

Needs to It’ll need to dispatch commuting, work and family life without any range anxiety issues and cope with a wide variety of duties

Miles covered 1759 Price £38,950 Target price £38,950 Price as tested £38,950 Official range 273 miles Test range 245 miles Options n/a

6 October 2023 – Smart acceleration and smooth stopping

It’s a bit of a hoot to drive, this Smart #1 of mine. For starters, it’s very easy to find the right driving position, thanks to a very supportive and electrically adjustable seat. I love the look of the sporty steering wheel too, which echoes Smart cars of old with its circular centre and chunky aluminum-style spokes, and the visibility is excellent, thanks to the car’s upright pillars and large expanses of glass. 

Smart #1 behind the wheel

Put your foot down and it picks up its skirts and flies, too. There are three driving modes to choose from: Eco, Comfort and Sport. The differences are marginal but for me, Comfort seems the best fit: Eco loses some of that initial response and I’m worried Sport, which is otherwise rather nice, might have a negative effect on the #1’s overall efficiency. 

Meanwhile, my modern-looking steering wheel is matched by suitably modern electrically assisted steering, which is nicely geared and decently responsive. You can, via the touchscreen, vary the weight of the steering too, choosing from light, medium or heavy. Keen drivers would probably suggest sticking it in heavy to simulate some of the feedback they think that conjures up, but as I do not believe in paying a large sum of money and then doing all the work myself, I leave it in light. 

Smart #1 steering weight on screen

The other area that might attract some opprobrium, especially among electric car enthusiasts, regards brake regeneration. My #1 has a standard and a strong setting for the regeneration and I’ve left mine in standard. Some like the effect of maximum braking as soon as they lift off the accelerator pedal, but for me the feeling of having dropped an anchor off the back of the car interferes with what in my mind is the smoothness of a more traditional slowing down procedure. 

So far, my #1 seems to be pretty efficient anyway, without any extra that might be gained from the stronger brake regen. In our real-range summer test, the #1 achieved 245 miles, which is only a 10% drop from its official figure. My mostly urban journeys would confirm that efficiency, though I’ve got one or two longer journeys coming up that might test its mettle.

 For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here

Read more about our Smart #1 long-term test car >>

Read about more long-term test cars >>

Also consider