Smart is reinventing itself with the Concept #1 electric SUV

The small and quirky Smart cars of yore is no more. Following the 50% stake acquisition by Chinese giant Geely, the brand is now in the process of a radical reinvention, and they’ve now shown off the Concept #1 at the 2021 IAA Munich Motor Show to give us a taste of what’s coming next – a preview of Smart’s first SUV model.

Smart says that the Concept #1 is now in a near-production-ready form, which means the eventual model – whenever it’s launched – will look pretty much just like this, aside from a few tweaks mostly for regulations purposes.

The Concept #1 measures in at 4,290 mm long, 1,910 mm wide, and 1,698 mm tall, which is just a touch smaller than the Mercedes-Benz EQA from Smart’s parent company. However, the two will not be sharing the same platform; as part of the agreement, Geely will be helming the engineering works for future Smart models, while Daimler will handle the design.

And in terms of styling, design chief Gorden Wagener said that the Concept #1 is represents an evolution towards a “cool, grown-up” brand image. The defining elements of the usual Smart models, such as the short overhangs and unique C-pillars are still here, though all reimagined with a modern flavour, fitting for a new “regular” SUV in this day and age.

Smart’s communication materials dedicated a huge portion to the Concept #1’s “light shows” starting from the large illuminated “grille” up front which moves and shines along with the music, moving towards the sides, and towards the rear diffuser.

The narrow headlights assembly is mirrored almost one-to-one on the rear, and their light signatures – both front and back – feature some sort of starburst effect, characterised by thousands (we’re guessing) of tiny illuminated triangles that scatter out towards the edges.

Even the door “handles” are made up of touch-sensitive light panels, which opens up the suicide doors with frameless windows (note the lack of B-pillars). Heading inside, the first thing you’ll realise is, once again, the “attention-grabbing light show” consisting of LED ambient lights on the dashboard, seats, and even on the floor.

We’ll have to wait and see how much of the “light show” actually makes it into the production model, but what’s not going to change is the amount of space offered on the interior.

Despite the relatively compact size, Smart says that the wheels being pushed out to the corners of the Concept #1, plus the 2,750 mm wheelbase, has allowed them to offer elbow room, legroom, and storage space on par with vehicles in higher segments.

The huge panoramic glass roof further adds to the spaciousness of the cabin – at least in perception – and the entire centre console (which houses the 12.8-in infotainment screen) is “floating” in mid-air, offering additional legroom for the front passenger thanks to the flat floor offered by the EV platform.

Although the concept car is a four-seater, Smart says that the eventual production car will feature five seats.

Technical details about the powertrain and other oily bits still remains under wraps, but Smart says that the upcoming SUV model promises “the highest level of dynamic handling and passive safety” afforded by the Geely-built SEA platform.

Other features include a smart app that can also function as a digital key, a connected infotainment system with over-the-air update capabilities, as well as advanced driver assistance systems.



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