2024 Smart #3 electric car review

The Smart #3 is a sleeker sister to the #1 – a car that has earned our maximum five-star rating. So, is the new model as good?...

Smart #3 Premium, white, review

On sale: March 2024 | Price: From £32,950

We wouldn’t blame you if your first reaction while reading about the new Smart #3 is ‘why wasn’t it called the Hashtag Two?’. Well, technically, the 'Two' (or Fortwo) is the tiny, two-seat city car with which Smart made its name, but we still understand if it feels like the brand has skipped a chapter.

Still, naming strategy aside, the #3 joins the range as a coupé version of the Smart #1 electric SUV, promising a slightly sportier drive and a sleeker roof line that doesn’t significantly compromise practicality. It’s longer and wider than the Smart #1, with a 60mm lower roofline, 20mm lower ground clearance and an extra 35mm between the front and rear wheels.

If this sounds good so far, it’s worth noting the #3 costs around £1000 less than an equivalent #1. There’s also a new entry-level Pro trim available for the first time, with a smaller 49kWh (total capacity) battery to help make the entry point more affordable. This brings an official range of 202 miles, while a maximum charging speed of 130kW means a 10-80% top-up can take less than 30 minutes.

Smart #3 Premium, white, driving rear 2024

Meanwhile, the rest of the range (the Pro+, Premium and Brabus) get the 62kWh (usable capacity) battery that we're familiar with from the #1. A slightly higher, 150kW maximum charging speed means a 10-80% still takes around 30 minutes. By contrast, you'd be waiting about 45 minutes for the same charge in a BYD Atto 3, Honda e:Ny1 or Kia Niro EV.

Direct, coupé SUV rivals are few for a similar price, with the upcoming Peugeot e-3008 costing slightly more. There’s also the larger Skoda Enyaq Coupe.

What’s the Smart #3 like to drive?

The range of power outputs mirror those of the Smart #1. That means, unless you go for the Brabus version, all #3’s have a 268bhp electric motor driving the rear wheels. Thanks to improved aerodynamics, the Smart #3’s zippy official 0-62mph time of 5.8sec is quicker than the Smart #1’s 6.7sec figure, while also bettering what many more expensive alternatives can manage, including the Enyaq Coupé and the entry-level Tesla Model Y RWD.

The performance-focused Brabus version remains hilariously quick. You still get 422bhp delivered via twin motors for four-wheel drive, but the 0-62mph time of 3.7sec makes it 0.2sec quicker than the #1 Brabus. Indeed, it matches the Mercedes-AMG EQE 53 SUV, which costs nearly three times the price.

Smart #3 Premium, white, driving side 2024

The Smart #3’s improved aerodynamics benefits the range, too, with some versions officially travelling an extra 10 miles on a full charge. That gives the Pro+ model an official range of 270 miles, while the Premium – which has a slightly more efficient motor – can officially manage 283 miles.

Meanwhile, the Brabus can travel up to 258 miles. As with the Smart #1, you can tow up to 1600kg with the #3, which is the same as our electric Tow Car of the Year, the Kia EV6.

Despite the 20mm lower ground clearance, the Smart #3 rides smoothly over bumps most of the time, with only a slight choppiness at low speeds.

The Smart #1 already feels more alert and sportier than rivals at low speeds, and the #3 feels even more composed, thanks to a reduction in body lean when cornering. The steering is well-judged, with a natural response and a reassuring amount of weighting in the heavier of its three driving modes. You have to push hard through a series of bends to make the #3 lose any of its composure.

Smart #3 Premium, white, driving rear 2024

Meanwhile, the #3 Brabus gets stiffer suspension and 20in wheels to deal with its extra power. While the #1 Brabus sticks to standard suspension (and 19in wheels) and struggles to contain its body movements, the #3 keeps everything far more tightly controlled. You no longer pitch back and forth when pressing on, and there’s very little body lean in corners. The trade-off is a busy low speed ride that struggles to completely settle down even at higher speeds.

Keener drivers may also want to note that our test car came fitted with grippier Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres, which can be added as an option.

Refinement remains a strong point, with just a bit of road noise on the motorway and the occasional suspension thump at low speeds disturbing the peace inside.

The brakes are the only real disappointment. While it's quite easy to stop smoothly, the pedal needs a good stamp from high speeds. You can also slow down through regenerative braking, but it takes some getting used to because there’s a slight pause between you lifting off and the braking force kicking in.

Smart #3 dashboard 2024

What’s the Smart #3 like inside?

To help give a sportier feel over the Smart #1, the seats in the Smart #3 are 22mm closer to the ground. Whether you prefer this will be down to personal preference, but otherwise the driving position is tough to fault.

The Smart #3’s front seats come in a sportier design and support you in all the right places, although some may be less keen on the fixed headrests.

The rear window isn’t as tall as the one in the #1, meaning you don’t see quite as much behind you in the rear-view mirror.  However, forward and over-the-shoulder visibility are good, and all versions come with front and rear parking sensors, and a 360-degree bird's eye view camera.

The Smart #3’s dashboard is almost the same as the #1's, with the biggest difference being three circular centre air vents rather than twin oval ones.

Smart #3 rear seats 2024

That means you still get a bright 9.2in digital instrument panel, while Premium and Brabus versions have a head-up display that projects your speed and other information on to the windscreen in your line of sight.

There’s also a big, 12.8in touchscreen infotainment system sitting in the middle of the dashboard that is responsive to inputs. The Smart #1’s fox avatar has been replaced by a cheetah for the #3, but it doesn’t really add to the user experience. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring are standard, with all #1's also due to get this functionality via an OTA (over the air) update.

Despite the lower roof, space is good all round. There’s plenty of head clearance for a 6ft tall occupant up front, while a six-footer in the rear seat won’t be brushing their hair against the panoramic glass roof. Leg room remains generous, too; while the lowered seating position leaves you sitting with your legs more outstretched than in the #1, the extra 35mm between the front and rear wheels makes up for this.

The almost flat floor (common to most electric SUVs) also makes life relatively comfy for someone sitting in the middle seat.

Smart #3 boot 2024

The rear seatback splits and folds down in a 60/40 split, and there's a ski hatch in the middle so you can poke long items between two passengers.  The Smart #3 does lose out on the sliding rear seat function that boosts versatility in the #1, though.

On paper, the 370-litre boot trails the Smart #1’s already modest 411-litre capacity (with the seats slid forward), but it’s still a usable space. The boot floor is set lower and introduces a small load lip that is absent in the Smart #1. This also eats into the amount of underfloor storage, even though there’s still enough for the charging cables. In addition, you still get a small, 15-litre front boot under the bonnet, even if it's roughly the size of a lunchbox. A powered tailgate is standard on all trims.

Verdict

The Smart #3’s slightly sportier approach is designed to win it a younger audience than the #1. And whether or not that works out, it remains a brilliant electric car, because it carries over the #1's virtues of nippy performance, a smart interior and relatively swift charging capabilities. The boot is on the pokey side, but there's little else to fault. Given it’s also slightly cheaper than the #1, it's a great buy if you like the sleeker looks.

What Car? rating 5 stars out of 5

Smart #3 Premium

Price From £39,950 Engine Electric motor Power 268bhp Torque 253 lb ft Gearbox 1-spd automatic Top speed 112mph 0-62mph 5.8sec Range 283 miles CO2/tax 0g/km, 2%

Rivals:
Peugeot e-3008
Tesla Model Y


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