Smart Concept #1: new era for brand begins with SUV

Published: 05 September 2021

► New Smart SUV concept revealed
► Concept #1 previews new baby SUV
► It's the biggest Smart car yet

Smart, the brand known for its eeny-weeny city cars, is going through a revitalisation. Part of that is an all-new SUV, previewed here by this: the Concept #1.

That looks big...

And it is, for a Smart: 4290mm long, 1910mm wide and 1698mm tall. While those numbers are relatively meaningless in isolation, it essentially highlights that the Concept #1 is around the same size of a B-segment SUV (like the Peugeot 2008, Ford Puma, Vauxhall Mokka etc.). That's positively massive for a Smart; it's around half a metre longer than both generations of the ForFour and even the long-but-low Roadster from the early 2000s, for example.

But Smart says that's intentional, as the brand wants to get into that segment as it makes other car makers so much money. Given the Smart brand is now part-owned by Geely, it's expected that the production version will go on sale in China – a region that also doesn't tend to favour very small cars.

Still, the brand says that the space inside is where it counts; that value of maximum interior space for as small a footprint as possible still holds some sway here. And it's mainly due to the use of a new, purpose-built battery-electric platform. Specs aren't known yet, but Smart promises long battery life and fast charging.

So, what's special about the interior?

Well, there's no centre pillar and the rear doors have rear-mounted hinges for excellent entry (though we're not sure this'll make production) and a completely flat floor gives a sense of space. The centre console is mounted in such a way it looks like it's floating, and comes complete with a '3D' touch panel and 12.8-inch display.

smart concept 1 interior

It's also got Daimler Group's chief design officer, Gorden Wagener's fingerprints all over it: a sweeping dashboard, massive central screen and a light blue/gold/white colour scheme throughout. Even the seats have piping that lights up. 'The new sporty Concept #1 is a redefinition of the smart brand in a very cool grown-up way,' says Wagener, 'we have created a completely new design DNA that has the potential to establish smart as the leading design brand.'

When will we see the real version?

Daniel Lescow, Smart's global sales and marketing director, told CAR to expect a production version of the Concept 1 in the first half of 2022. As for the price: 'given the access to the Geely system, we'll be able to offer the car at a very, very competitive cost.'

By Jake Groves

CAR's deputy news editor, office Geordie, gamer, lover of hot hatches