smart is growing up with a new all-electric model that not only redefines the brand, but also heralds a joint venture between Mercedes-Benz and Chinese automotive giant Geely.
The smart #1 – pronounced hashtag one – is a battery-electric car with a range of some 270 miles, and it will be on sale in the middle of 2023.
Revealed in the UK at the British Motor Museum at Gaydon in Warwickshire, the #1 signals a new direction for smart, which has been an electric-only carmaker since 2019.
The newcomer is to be built at a factory in China and is a sea change for smart, which made its name with the diminutive fortwo and forfour city cars back in the 1990s.
At 4.27 metres long, the #1 is bigger than a Ford Fiesta and has the likes of the Volkswagen ID.3, Hyundai Kona Electric and the soon-to-come electric version of the MINI Countryman in its sights.
Prices are still to be announced, but can be expected to be north of £30,000 when the new smart is released in 2023.
The launch will kick off with an exclusive First Edition specification, of which just 100 of 1,000 cars to be produced for Europe will be coming to Britain.
Each has a distinctive paint finish and panoramic glass roof with a special chequered pattern, as well as top equipment levels.
The #1 is much more conventional in styling than its smart predecessors and has a distinctive shark-like curved nose, clean body lines, and can seat up to five with a 323-litre boot.
A sliding rear seat which can be split on a 60/40 basis increases cargo capacity to 411 litres or a maximum of 469 litres with the bench folded flat.
More luggage space is available in a 15-litre ‘frunk’ under the bonnet, while an underfloor compartment below the boot allows storage for charging cables.
An 80 percent recharge from a fast charger can be done in half an hour or three hours from an AC supply.
LED lights are standard on the First Edition car while the cabin is ultra-modern and features high quality trim with most functions controlled from a 12.8-inch central touchscreen complete with a ‘Fox’ avatar which is there to help navigate the systems.
Wireless phone charging and automated parking are also standard on the First Edition #1 as is full connectivity with all models ready for over-the-air updates.
Maximum speed is 112mph and the #1 has a lively 0 to 62mph acceleration time of 6.0 seconds with the rear mounted electric motor developing the equivalent of 272ps.
Drive is to the rear wheels and all #1 models have a gamut of driver assistance aids including evasive manoeuvre systems which can automatically avoid objects in the road and blind spot alerts.
Digital displays dominate the driver information set up with a 9.2-inch instrument panel and a 10-inch head-up display, while a high mounted centre console has cup holders and cubby space hidden away below opening panels.
For a car of supermini proportions, the cabin is roomy and can seat four adults in good comfort, while the materials used in the trim and upholstery are above par.
Following the First Edition run – for which order books will open in December – the #1 will come in two trim levels, Premium and Pro+ and all will be available for online sales or through the network of existing smart dealers already operating at Mercedes-Benz showrooms in the UK.
All are covered by a three-year, unlimited mileage warranty, with the battery pack guaranteed for eight years or 100,000 miles.
David Browne, smart UK chief executive officer, said: “The smart #1 represents the start of a new era for our brand. Its comprehensive offering of outstanding design, exceptional space utilisation and connected solutions is confidence-inspiring to customers and is a strong signal of intent for our product portfolio moving forward.
“Our Launch Edition offers customers an exclusive opportunity to be the first to experience our vision for a new generation of fully electric urban mobility when it hits the road mid-next year.”