Smart Concept #1 previews 2023 electric SUV

Smart concept points to new direction for the brand under joint Daimler and Geely ownership

This is the Smart Concept #1, a “clear insight into the first production model in Smart’s new generation of all-electric vehicles,” claims the brand, which will become the #1 SUV when it reaches production in 2023.

Concept #1 is 4,290mm long and 1,698mm tall – so slightly longer than a VW Golf overall, with a roofline that sits more than 10cm higher than the current Nissan Juke’s. The wheelbase is 2,750mm, though, which is more than 10cm longer than that car’s larger SUV stablemate, the Qashqai. Smart is clearly hoping that the production model will have enough space to perform as an all-electric family SUV. As such, while the concept is a four-seater, the company says the final car will accommodate five people.

Geely is responsible for the car’s technical aspects and for developing the platform that the production car will be based on. Daimler, meanwhile, is responsible for the car’s interior and exterior styling. The firm’s Chief Design Officer, Gorden Wagener, said, “The Concept #1 is a redefinition of the Smart brand in a very cool, grown-up way. We’ve created a completely new design DNA that has the potential to establish Smart as the leading design brand.”

The Concept #1’s overall look is far removed from that of any previous Smarts – a sign of how the firm is being relaunched from the ground up. The overall profile has short front and rear overhangs – typical of an EV on a bespoke platform – while frameless doors and blacked-out A-pillars achieve a ‘floating roof’ effect. 

Other concept features include 21-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and tail-lights, and no visible door handles. Smart says the doors – including rear-hinged back doors – are concealed and only revealed by “light elements”. The car’s front grille is divided into small triangles which can be individually illuminated; this is part of a ‘light show’ that the car can perform in time with musical rhythm.

Inside, there’s a floating central console that offers at least the possibility of flat-floor storage between the front seats, and a central 12.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Smart says the car has a central computer that controls four main areas of the car’s systems: infotainment, driver assistance, electromobility and the electric/electronic vehicle architecture. The firm claims that 75 per cent of the car’s processors can be updated remotely via over-the-air updates.

Smart has not issued technical information but the SEA platform that is likely under the Concept #1 is a highly modular system that will enable a production model with several battery and motor configurations, with a minimum battery size of 58kWh and both rear and four-wheel-drive motor layouts.

Do you think the Smart SUV will be a success? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section...

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