In January I said that fun is dead at Smart. I hoped it was more hyperbole than truth, but the brand recently released some teaser images of is upcoming SUV that shows it’s serious dumping its playful brand recognition.
Smart Automobile is in the middle of a complete brand overhaul. Gone is a playful image, here is growing up and going after that premium feel. Geely purchased half of Smart in 2019 to help Mercedes-Benz take Smart into the future. Part of that future is going after premium electric SUV buyers and the company is releasing some images of what that could look like ahead of the SUV’s debut in September.
Speaking with Auto Express, Mercedes-Benz design chief, Gorden Wagener, further confirms the brand’s push for premium:
“We have taken the opportunity to reinvent the brand,” Wagner told us, before suggesting that the new Smart face is supposed to be “cool, sexy and grown-up instead of cute and playful”.
Riding on Geely’s Sustainable Experience Architecture (SEA), the Smart SUV is looking like something completely different than you’d expect from the brand. Smart hopes this still unnamed electric SUV will capture young families that want trendsetting sustainable transportation, whatever that means. The company says that the SUV’s design will use elements like concealed door handles and illuminated parts. Thankfully, it keeps the giant panoramic roof that Smart is known for. Check out these official sketches by Daimler designer Mohammad Aminiyekta.
In Smart’s quest to chase the premium market, it’s pretty clear the SUV will lose a lot of Smart’s characteristic design traits like a safety cell of a contrasting color to the main body. Instead, the SUV employs the same kind of floating roof design that so many other crossovers and SUVs already use. The front end also gets a bit of an angry face, finally dropping the kind, cute front ends the company’s cars have worn for the past couple of decades. Auto Express’ render based on these official sketches make it look something like a Toyota RAV4 mashed together with a Volkswagen ID.4.
It makes me sad because not every car needs to look angry and be premium. Be funky! Be weird! One of the good things about old-school Smart was the fact that it never took itself too seriously. This isn’t the first time that Smart has attempted to make an SUV, but this one definitely bucks tradition. But I guess this will probably rake in mad sales.
Smart expects to sell its new electric SUV direct to customers in Europe and China and at this time the company doesn’t have plans for a U.S. return. The new Smart SUV makes its debut at IAA Mobility 2021 in September.