We’ve been waiting (or maybe it’s just me) to see what Smart has been brewing up and it’s finally here. The brand is being revived yet again, not with a cutesy city car but a premium electric SUV. The Smart Concept#1 is a preview of Smart’s serious, not so playful future.
Smart, which started over two decades ago with a tiny city car, has had an existence best described as tumultuous, with quirky city cars fighting a losing battle in a world of more normal cars, SUVs and crossovers. Now it appears they have an SUV, just like everyone else.
The Smart Concept#1 made its debut at the IAA Mobility motor show in Munich, Germany. The electric SUV is the first vehicle to come out of the 2019 partnership between Mercedes-Benz and Geely. The partnership, in which Geely has a 50 percent stake, brings Smart back to life with Mercedes-Benz handling design and Geely handling engineering and production.
Smart says its new vehicles will shed the brand’s playful image in favor of going premium. I feared that fun was dead at Smart and this SUV suggests that Smart is indeed getting serious. The vehicle is actually Smart’s second try at an SUV, and Smart describes the five-seat concept as being near-production.
It measures in at 168.9 inches or 14 feet-long, just a hair shorter than the 169.7-inch 2022 Mini Countryman.
Gone is Smart’s signature Tridion Cell, which used the car’s safety cage as prominent design element, often painted in a contrasting color. The contrasting color survives in the Concept#1, but as a part of its floating roof, a design element shared by many other crossovers and SUVs.
You’d be forgiven for not being able to tell this is a Smart. The interior ditches Smart’s past quirky designs—there are no pods sprouting out of a fabric-covered dash and the seats don’t have any funky designs on them. Instead, the interior goes for the premium look with a 12.8-inch central tablet tacked onto the dash and a floating center console.
Smart describes it as having the comfort and space of a business sedan. Entry to the interior is gained through touch-capacitive light panels. The concept features a glass roof that stretches over the entirety of the passenger cabin and its wheelbase is 108.3 inches, pushing the wheels out to the corners.
It’ll also be packed with technology, featuring a level-II driver assist system, over-the-air ECU updates, Beats audio and an app that allows your phone to act as the SUV’s key.
Of course, the rearward-opening doors and illuminated floors aren’t likely to make the final cut. Smart also didn’t provide any technical details. We know that the SUV will ride on Geely’s Sustainable Experience Architecture electric platform, but exact details beyond that are unknown.
The production version is set to make its debut in 2022, with sales potentially starting in 2023. Smart is planning on a direct sales model and before you ask, America isn’t getting it.