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New Smart Concept #5 is a rough and ready electric off-roader

Its maker is calling this the “most versatile Smart of all time” although we expect the concept to be toned down for production

The latest car to be confirmed for the 2024 Beijing Motor Show is the Smart Concept #5. The brand is calling this electric SUV its “most spacious and versatile vehicle to date”, teeing up a future entry into the premium mid-size SUV segment.

Visually, the car looks like a cross between a Mercedes GLB and a shrunken Land Rover Defender, albeit with some of the smooth, curved edges seen on Smart’s existing #1 SUV. The maker has delved deep into its imaginary off-road accessories brochure for the concept, fitting the #5 with knobbly tyres, protective cladding and even a roof rack. The shortened front and rear overhangs should help when the going gets tough.

Of course, we expect the Smart #5 production car’s design to be diluted when it arrives later in the year. The frameless window arrangement will most likely be replaced with conventional B and C-pillars, while the #5’s front and rear lighting signatures are sure to mirror those of the smaller and more affordable #1 and #3 models. Some of the #5’s add-ons may be available as options, but the chunky tyres are almost certain to be swapped out for more road-biased rubber.

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Inside, Smart is showing off its next-generation infotainment system, with dual OLED displays powered by a “high-performance AMD V2000 chip”. The maker claims this system will provide “optimal access to the vehicle’s numerous functions” though details on what these functions include aren’t yet available. Ambient lighting also features, alongside a portable speaker in the centre console. The seats offer heating and ventilation, as well as massage functionality.

Smart says the #5 will also utilise the latest AI technology, with a new virtual in-car assistant that it claims can engage in “entertaining conversations”. Useful, perhaps, if you’re feeling lonely on a long drive, or trying to stay awake late at night.

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Confirming its intentions to explore previously untapped areas of the market, Smart describes the car as something that combines the “distinctive modernity of smart with the attitude of open mindedness to offer new perspectives and possibilities”. The Geely-owned brand made its name building small, urban-friendly runabouts, rather than off-road-focused utility vehicles.

Dirk Adelmann, CEO of smart Europe GmbH, said: “For more than a quarter of a century, Smart has made a significant impact by pioneering models and mobility solutions for the urban space and beyond. The smart Concept #5 is the most unexpected and versatile car that our brand has ever created. With this vehicle, we leave all boundaries behind and open up a new segment for customers in Europe and worldwide.”

Smart is previewing its next-generation technology under the skin of the #5; the car is fitted with cutting-edge 800-volt hardware and a battery of more than 100kWh. Official figures haven’t been confirmed, but the maker says that should translate to a range of “more than 341 miles” and a 10-80 per cent charge time of “just 15 minutes”.

While the #5 is only a concept for now, Smart won’t wait long to reveal the production-ready car. The production Smart #5 is planned for release in the second half of 2024.

Click here for our list of the best electric SUVs...

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Deputy editor

Richard has been part of the team for over a decade. During this time he has covered a huge amount of news and reviews for Auto Express, as well as being the face of Carbuyer and DrivingElectric on Youtube. In his current role as deputy editor, he is now responsible for keeping our content flowing and managing our team of talented writers.

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