TEST of the very first electric compact SUV

TEST of the very first electric compact SUV

What is this famous Smart #1, the first electric SUV – and indeed the first car – of the Mercedes-Geely era worth? After the first static contact last May, it was time for a road test.

Upgrade to Smart! Long gone are the days of the little Fortwo, when we were happy to park perpendicularly. In 2022, the brand will launch its first electric compact SUV: Smart #1. A car in trend, which also and above all shows the ambition of a more premium positioning. Towards Portugal, around Esterel and along Cascais, for an enhanced test. Note that there is even Brabus in the program, which we will tell you about at the end of the test.

Smart #1 in terms of looks: stylish and tousled

Regular reader of Automobile Propre, you already know the look of this #1 Smart in detail. As a reminder, the electric revival of the brand takes the form of a compact SUV. So, before us is a beautiful baby, all curves, with his rather soft and curved forms. While our small group agrees to see the Mercedes EQA at the back, opinions differ on the front. Personally, I (and squinting) see a less spicy and more playful version of the Kia EV6. What everyone agrees on is the originality of this floating pavilion that “closes” #1. Whether we like it or not, it leaves no one indifferent. Side logos, inscriptions on the front and back, large 19-inch wheels, a beautiful panoramic roof, the desire for a premium image is there.

Overall, the electric SUV remains visually balanced, but still impresses with its size. Its dimensions are 4.27 m in length, 1.82 m in width and 1.63 m in height. Short overhangs and wheels stretched to the 4 corners of the car give it all its presence. Only the front bumper breaks the plan with a few tricks, between the fake air intakes and the radiator grille, of course, nothing but “functional”. The techno and high class vibe starts as soon as you approach the car. The LED strip on the front comes to life and the flush handles unfold to welcome us. Responsive and very smooth functions as soon as you approach the key to Smart #1. Also note the possibility of connecting our smartphone as a car key through a mobile application for identical operation.

Life on board: a good high-tech dose, a tactile overdose

Smart #1 welcomes us in a spacious cabin with a minimalist look. The interior is very spacious, with a floating center console up front that increases storage space. The driver and passenger get considerable comfort, we are far from cramped. The 2.75m wheelbase and almost flat floor favors rear passengers who have plenty of knee room. As often, the place of the carrier is caught: the file is less convenient and the light protrusion of the central tunnel obliges. In any case, the electric SUV offers good comfort on board, not to mention the sliding rear seat. In two parts, it moves by 13 cm, increasing the volume of the trunk from 323 to 411 liters. Driving with 4 people with things in the trunk is still cramped. The No. 1 interior is frothy from front to back and bathed in beautiful Mercedes-style ambient lighting.

Up front, all controls and functions are centralized on a 12.8-inch central screen. Smart #1 represents the “personification” of the voice assistant, materialized by a small fox. Absolutely redundant, it contributes to the playful and colorful atmosphere of the interface. Very rich (even loaded) interface, since EVERYTHING happens on the screen. Air conditioner (without physical buttons!), mirror adjustment, projection display… And even opening the glove box. Too much Tesla for my taste, which usually requires you to take your eyes off the road at the slightest action. Even the mode selection button, touch-sensitive, is located far to the right. We wish it was more accessible rather than dehydrating. There’s a geeky, premium vibe, but it’s too tactile to the detriment of some basic features.

Performance and handling: typical comfort

Our Smart #1 Premium is based on a 200 kW (272 hp) engine with 343 Nm at the rear axle. Something that moves us in silence and vigor, like any good electric car. So it responds responsively to the pedal, docile in Eco mode, sharp in Sport mode and balanced in Comfort mode. But we are interested in his behavior. Resolutely focused on comfort, the electric SUV is both playful and somewhat imprecise. Portugal’s roads are perfect for a bit of cornering attack and jumping in a vehicle that seems to be asking for just that. The small family still achieves its flexible cushioning and shape, which make it roll and understeer. The rear end tends to want to move forward and the body movements are too present. Lovers of dynamic driving: this is a straight-line car.

More specifically, Smart #1 isn’t locked down enough for an athletic offense. Especially since the management conveys little information, which does not help. In any case, assistants and helpers are always at work to get us back on track. The electronics are responsive but not overly intrusive, at least when it comes to ESP, for example. In Country Road Comfort, lane keeping gave us a strange and unexpected steering wheel. Don’t relax too much while driving on a winding road. So #1 delivers performance that the chassis and suspension can’t handle. In addition, the Continental EcoContact 6 tires provide grip and handling that adhere to the car’s family-friendly approach. His favorite destination is urban and country comfort. And this compact SUV does admirably.

Cost and autonomy: up to 440 km?

In terms of power, the electric SUV has a 66 kWh battery. Smart announces up to 440 km of autonomy, average consumption of 15 kWh / 100 km. Ours fluctuates between 17.5 and 18 kWh for 90 km, or about 370 km of range. Our route naturally invites you to try different modes and push the SUV from time to time. In daily driving (city, office), we dropped to 17 kWh / 100 km in Eco mode, or about 390 km. Slightly different figures with the Brabus version, which rises between 20 and 22 kWh. The Smart #1 can rely on a 22kW onboard charger to go from 10 to 80% in less than 3 hours. In 150 kW fast charging, we go up to 30 minutes. A very correct performance, in our opinion, how about you?

And Smart #1 Brabus in all of this?

Style and wattage! Let’s start with the style. The Brabus version contains some muscular and sporty attributes. On the outside, there are fake air intakes and a more aggressive shield. All with specific rims, red edging and Brabus badges. The interior is more sporty, with a classic combination of Alcantara and red details. Works every time. But what changes “under the hood” is the addition of a front engine and four-wheel drive. A total of 315 kW (428 hp) and 543 Nm Brabus mode is added to the remaining three drive modes. There Smart #1 Brabus gives us a real kick in the ass. Recall that it shoots from 0 to 100 in 3.9 seconds. On the road, it’s responsive with every throttle.

But be careful: in Brabus SmartPilot mode, adaptive cruise control and other assistance are disabled. Smart #1 is otherwise unchanged (chassis, suspension, tires), the behavior described above remains the same. Artificial stiffening of the steering only provides feel, but does not improve sporty handling. Maybe offer other and more suitable tires for better dynamics? We still feel the extra weight up front, but the suspension is a little less firm than the standard #1. The price of Smart #1 starts at 39,990 euros without bonuses, considering 47,490 euros for the Brabus version. Standard equipment is serious and in line with the brand’s premium ambitions. One thing can be said for sure, there is a revolution in Smart. Somewhere between the Peugeot e-2008, Opel Mokka-e and other DS 3 Crossback E-Tense, the number 1 is making a name for itself. And for the first electric, it is very successful.

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