Smart #1 long-term test: report 3

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 side view

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 2099 Price £38,950 Target price £38,950 Price as tested £38,950 Official range 273 miles Test range 245 miles

7 November 2023 – Don't look back in anger

Although I’m much enjoying my Smart #1 there are a few quirks I need to report – some of these will require a bit of getting used to for some owners, while others might be downright annoying to others.

One of these is the convoluted process of adjusting the rear-view door mirrors via the touchscreen. It requires delving deep - three prods deep, in fact - into one of the on-screen menus. You select which side door mirror you want to adjust then you actually go back and adjust it via some controls on the steering wheel. The whole thing’s a bit of a faff and I should imagine nigh-on impossible to fathom if you haven’t already been told how to do it.

Smart#1 Mark prodding touchscreen

As is becoming common practice, you access most facilities, such as the temperature and the radio, through the touchscreen. Helping you out on the screen is a fox avatar. I wasn’t sure at first quite who this was aimed at, but having run the car for a few weeks I now realise it was actually my wife. She has grown so fond of the fox that she now brings it food, and spends more time on journeys conversing with it than she does with me.  

Smart #1 fox avatar

Another thing I’m not sure if I like is the pop-out door handles. These are undoubtedly wonderful from the design and aerodynamic point of view, but they can occasionally be annoying in everyday use. If they do not automatically pop out as I approach the car, which they don’t always, it is not always intuitive to know where to press them to release the handle, with some of my passengers left hanging on the pavement looking confused. 

Smart #1 door handle

I think it’s a pity that when they do appear they angle out at the rear end of the handle rather than the whole handle emerging from the body to greet you. Done the latter way, it’s much easier to grip the whole thing like a regular door handle.   

There have also been criticisms of the size of the #1’s boot in some quarters, and it’s fair to say that it’s not as voluminous as rivals like the BYD Atto 3 and Kia Niro EV. You can increase the size a little by sliding the rear seats forward, but it’s not huge even then. If I went on a lot of family holidays in the car, I might think twice, but since I spend more of my time in supermarket car parks than touring Europe it’s less of a concern. 

Smart #1 Mark in rear seat

To end on a positive note, the flip side is that with the rear seats slid back as far as they can go, there is more than enough room for a six-footer to sit behind a similarly tall driver, with the driving position set up for them. Those rear seats are almost as comfortable as the front ones, too, and the seatbacks recline. The view from the back is also pleasingly light and airy, helped out by the full-length panoramic glass roof. Three-abreast seating is even possible for short journeys, and the flat floor also makes the middle occupant’s life decently tolerable.  

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