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Smart #1 Review

The smart car has grown in size

It’s also grown in performance

Very good driving experience

Driving range varies between 248 and 273 miles (WLTP figures)

Smart #1 design & powertrain

All smart #1 models have a 66 kWh NCM battery (with 62 kWh usable capacity). The standard powertrain is rear-wheel drive, with a 272 hp electric motor, but BRABUS models gain all-wheel drive and 428 hp, along with 584 Nm of torque – which is a lot for a compact SUV.

Smart #1

The smart #1 is spacious inside, with a rear seat that can slide forwards and backwards to provide a maximum boot space of 421 litres. There’s a compartment under the boot floor, and a 15-litre ‘frunk’, both of which can be used to store the charging cable.

The main feature of the interior is a large 12.8-inch central touchscreen, and a prominent central tunnel containing lots of storage which runs between the two front seats. All smart #1 models have a 1,600 kg braked towing capacity.

BRABUS model

Driving experience

Don’t expect the smart #1 to drive like the smart fortwo – this is a completely different experience. All smart #1 models are good to drive, but the BRABUS model thinks it’s a sports car in an SUV body. With 428 hp of power and 584 Nm of torque, a 0-62 mph acceleration time is delivered in 3.9 seconds, but the big news is that the smart #1 really likes corners. The steering is sharp, and in BRABUS mode, well-weighted (it’s lighter in Comfort mode). The relatively compact size of the #1 helps to provide a feeling of handling agility, and as well as impressive performance and handling, ride quality is also comfortable.

The all-wheel drive of the BRABUS delivers more traction than the standard rear-wheel drive layout, although even with AWD the Dunlop SP Sport Maxx tyres of the BRABUS still struggled for grip when tested on cold, wet roads.

There’s no start/stop button in the #1, you just get in the car, choose Drive or Reverse using the Mercedes/Tesla-like gear selector stalk on the right-hand side of the steering column, and you’re off. One of the very few physical buttons in the cabin gives you the choice of four drive modes in the BRABUS model: Eco, Comfort, Sport and BRABUS (BRABUS is effectively a ‘Sport+’ setting).

Virtually all other car controls are accessed via the large central touchscreen. This screen is busy: an ‘Inspiring Planet’ graphic sits in the centre of the screen, with an animated fox - an AI assistant avatar - in the bottom corner.

Beyond the unique visuals on the screen, there are many elements that appear to be inspired by Tesla’s infotainment system. Heating and ventilation controls are at the bottom of the screen, brake regeneration has to be adjusted via the screen, and even adjustment of the door mirrors has to be initiated through the screen, in conjunction with controls on the steering wheel.

The smart #1 talks to you about a variety of issues, ranging from telling you to take a break to notifications about speed limits.

Range & charging

The smart #1 Premium model has a WLTP combined electric driving range of up to 273 miles, the Pro+ model has a (WLTP) 260-mile range, and the BRABUS has a (WLTP) 248 mile-range. The average real-world range of the BRABUS model is likely to be around (WLTP) 210 miles.

All smart #1 models have a maximum DC rapid charging rate of 150 kW, enabling a 10% to 80% charge in less than 30 minutes. Premium and BRABUS variants have 22 kW AC charging, but the Pro+ model only has a maximum AC charging rate of 7.4 kW.

One point to note is that #1 Premium and BRABUS models have a heat pump, but the entry-level Pro+ doesn’t, which means that the driving range will reduce in cold weather if interior heating is used.

Pricing and model range

The smart #1 is available in trim levels of Pro+ (from £35,950), Premium (from £38,950) and BRABUS (from £43,450). There’s also a limited-edition Launch Edition, with just 100 examples available in the UK, for £39,450.

Conclusion

The smart #1 is bigger than previous smart cars, and it’s also better. The SUV's body style may officially be classed as compact, but it feels spacious on the inside. All smart #1 models are good to drive, with comfortable ride quality, and the BRABUS variant also offers sports car levels of performance and dynamics. Electric driving ranges varying from (WLTP) 248 miles for the BRABUS to (WLTP) 273 miles for the Premium trim should be sufficient for most people, and 150 kW rapid charging should make public charging stops relatively quick. The Smart #1 is an impressive first product from the new joint Mercedes and Geely collaboration.

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