Smart Electric SUV promises to be spacious yet compact [Update]

The first smart SUV is coming to life. This is the smart Concept #1, and it’s a near-production concept that takes the smart brand into the compact vehicle segment. Let’s take a look at what promises to be a turnaround specialist for Mercedes & Geely’s urban mobility brand.

Design

While smart is a specialist in city cars, the new electric SUV measures between a supermini and a family hatchback. It would compete with the upcoming Mini Countryman Electric.

In the Concept #1, a whole new design DNA for the smart brand is observed. Except for the extremely short overhangs and the wheels pushed to the corners, we can hardly call this car a smart car. Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer, Daimler Group, says it “is a redefinition of the smart brand.” The smart Concept #1 mixes fun size and funky looks with the SUV body style. At the front, it features a low and rounded hood, curvy and mean-eyed headlights, and a concave faux grille.

The clean and smooth body with no interrupting character lines underlines the simplicity and eco-friendliness of the electric SUV. The lack of B-pillars amplifies that feeling. The rear doors are rear-hinged, making entry and exit very easy for the rear passengers. The sleek rectangular mirrors also look quite attractive.

A sophisticated roof design is complete with gold paint on the borders. The panoramic glass roof features golden capsule-shaped rings in varying sizes, making the regular SUV look luxurious the same way as the gold paint on the edges. On the other hand, the white body colour reflects the simplicity and understated character of the powertrain technology of electric cars. At the rear, the tail lights with rounded outer ends are reminiscent of the Mercedes EQS.

Production version

The design of the production smart SUV is also available, although unofficially. Industrial design filings on EUIPO preview the road-ready version. The final model looks extremely close to the concept, just as we were expecting.

At the front, the production version appears to differ with tweaked headlights, an aggressively styled bumper with vertical side air vents sporting twin blades and a new skid plate, and a redesigned hood. Key changes on the sides are conventional, front-hinged doors, regular door handles and ORVMs, and a larger charging port. At the rear, the production version has a regular cut-out for the tailgate release button and a restyled bumper with a repositioned and redesigned license plate section and a new skid plate. The tail lights of the final model should feature new clusters.

Interior

The smart electric SUV will be the brand’s biggest model. The concept seats four occupants, but the production version will be a five-seater.

Spy shots have revealed that the interior design of the production smart SUV is similar to that of the concept. We haven’t gotten a look of the full dashboard yet, but the three-spoke steering wheel with a flattened bottom, the 12.8-inch floating touchscreen infotainment system and the bridge-type centre console with capsule-shaped AC vents, squarish storage box, and two cupholders looks the same. Obviously, the production model doesn’t wear the flashy gold accents. Expect the seats to feature a simple and comfy design in the production model.

According to a report from JESMB, the production smart SUV’s infotainment system will not be a Mercedes-Benz-developed MBUX unit. It will come from Geely subsidiary ECARX instead. Other key features may include OTA updates, smart key, and voice-activated controls.

Platform

The smart electric SUV sits on the Geely SEA dedicated EV platform. Daniel Lescow, Vice President of Global Sales, Marketing & After-Sales, smart, describes it (via LinkedIn) as “super-compact on the outside and big on the inside.” Mercedes-Benz will provide the design and support for developing the smart electric SUV and future smart models.

Announced in 2020, the SEA can handle various applications, including vehicles from A-segment to D- and E-segment and even light commercial vehicles. Front-, rear- and all-wheel drive variants with single-, dual- or triple-motor configuration.

SEA is an open-source platform, and Geely announced that it is in talks with B2B and B2C customers, aside from plans to deploy it across its brands (Geely owns Volvo, Polestar, Lotus, Proton, Lynk & Co, Zeekr, and London Electric Vehicle Company and is a major shareholder in Daimler). The SEA platform uses a high-speed 800-volt charging system, which can recharge 120 kilometres (74.5 miles) of range in under 5 minutes. The first EV based on the SEA platform is the Zeekr 001.

The smart electric SUV would be about space and value for money than generating headlines with its acceleration or torque. The urban SUV is better suited to take the cost advantages of the SEA platform than its high-end performance and large battery packs.

Dimensions & Range

The smart electric SUV concept measures 4,290 mm (168.9 in.) in length, 1,910 mm (75.2 in.) in width, and 1,968 mm (77.5 in.) in height, and it has a 2,750 mm-long wheelbase. Compared to the MINI Countryman, the length is 7 mm (0.3 in.) shorter, yet the wheelbase is 80 mm (3.1 in.) longer. Kai Sieber, Head of Design, smart, has said (via Twitter/GregKable) that the body-in-white of the production version will be the same. So, expect similar dimensions in the showroom model.

The report from JESMB mentioned above says that the smart electric SUV will employ a 200 PS (197 bhp) asynchronous motor powering the rear wheels. There will be two battery pack options, with the extended range unit having a capacity of over 60 kWh. Both battery packs will consist of CATL-made Lithium-ion cells, and there’s no plan to offer a cheaper and long-lasting LFP option. The maximum WLTP range will be around 430 km (267 miles), suggests the report. This is quite different from what Chinese reports claimed, which was of a single motor generating 268 bhp for the rear wheels and a range of 500 km/311 miles (NEDC).

Fast-charging the smart electric SUV’s battery from 5-80% SoC will take less than 30 minutes. A Brabus variant with more power and AWD drivetrain layout, presumably with two motors, will follow in 2023, the German report says. Note that neither Brabus nor smart have offered guidance on future plans.

Safety

Lescow has said that the company is targeting a 5-star safety rating in the Euro NCAP. The smart electric SUV will come with several driving assistant systems, including a parking assistant, an evasive steering assistant, a motorway assistant, and an emergency lane assistant.

Production Smart electric SUV rendering
The smart electric SUV will likely be a B-segment model. Image Source: YouTube/SRK Designs

Production & Release date

Production of the smart electric SUV will take place in Xi’an, China, and the local launch is to be held next year. According to another report from JESMB, the European launch of the smart electric SUV will take place in January 2023. Germany will be among the first countries in the region to receive it, with the launch scheduled in the same month. This report also states that the production model will feature a frunk.

smart will directly sell the electric SUV to customers in Europe, and prospective buyers should be able to shop it online. Under this ‘agency model,’ the dealerships get a commission for the sale even though the company decides on the vehicle price and receives the payment.

European customers won’t have many customization choices for the vehicle which will be shipped from the Far East. Building extensive customization into the buying experience would be expensive for a mass-market model. European customers will have more equipment package options instead, the first JESMB report adds.

Price

Geely’s platform and Chinese manufacturing would allow Daimler to comfortably position the smart electric SUV in a more affordable price range than the Mercedes EQA. For reference, in Germany, the EQA, currently Daimler’s smallest electric SUV, starts at EUR 47,540.50. Daimler could set the base price of the Smart electric SUV at around EUR 35,000 to stay clear of the Mercedes model.

Smart electric SUV FAQs

What is the smart electric SUV release date?

The smart electric SUV is expected to launch in Europe in early 2023.

Which SUVs would the smart electric SUV compete against?

The smart electric SUV would rival the Mini Countryman Electric.

What will be the price of the smart electric SUV?

The smart electric SUV is expected to be priced from about 35,000 EUR.

Featured Image Source: smart