Home / Car News / The Smart #1 Is Literally Pronounced ‘Smart Hashtag One’ Which Is A Shame Because It Seems Like A Cool EV

The Smart #1 Is Literally Pronounced ‘Smart Hashtag One’ Which Is A Shame Because It Seems Like A Cool EV

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The problem with the name of Smart’s newly-unveiled EV crossover is actually worse than you think. It’s called the Smart #1, which I bet you read like “Smart Number One” which it, of course, isn’t, but the name gets worse when you hear how Smart pronounces it: “Smart Hashtag One.” If you need a moment to dab up your vomit, please take it. Honestly “Smart Poundsign One” would have been better. Despite being saddled with a dippy handle, Smart’s biggest-ever vehicle actually has a clean and striking design, inside and out, and seems a good addition to the growing EV landscape.

The Smart #1 is built on Geely’s Sustainable Experience Architecture (SEA) modular electric vehicle platform, as part of a partnership between Chinese automaker Geely and Mercedes-Benz Group AG, Smart’s parent company (Smart hasn’t been part of Swatch for some time, in case you haven’t been keeping up).

The platform variant used for the Smart #1 is a rear-motor, RWD setup, which, though unusual for most carmakers transitioning to EVs, has been the traditional Smart Car layout from day one. The battery pack is a 66 kWh lithium-nickel-cobalt-manganese chemistry, also used by cars like the Chevy Bolt, Renault ZOE, VW ID.3, and others, but notably not like what Tesla uses (Tesla uses mostly lithium-nickel-cobalt-aluminum oxide batteries).

All of that sticky battery chemistry should give the Smart #1 (maybe they didn’t want to say “number one” because that means peeing? I just thought of that) a respectable but not astounding range of 273 miles, at least according to the WLTP testing standard; US testing is different, so when/if this comes to America, that number may change.

The motor makes a decent 268 horsepower and 253 pound-feet of torque, enough to move the Big Smart from a dead stop to 62 mph in just under seven seconds, which seems plenty fine; the car tops out at 112 mph.

Design-wise, this is a pretty significant departure from Smart’s usual styling vocabulary (see photo above), which tended to rely on the graphical contrast of their safety cell, which is no longer a visible element in this design.

Instead we get a remarkably clean and smooth look to the car, with forms that feel like eroded river stones, or maybe a hammer handle worn smooth and curved by decades of continual use.

Right front three-quarter motion shot of a white Smart #1

The main graphical conceit seems to be the floating roof design, which can be had in contrasting colors. I think it works well here, but it doesn’t evoke much about Smart’s past design as much as it really reminds me of another small city car: the Opel Adam.

Right side overhead shot of a white Smart #1

Here, look at this Opel Adam (on the right), and note the detailing of how the roofline meets the C-pillar; it’s quite similar to the Smart’s (on the left):

That feels remarkably similar. Really, if you showed me this car and told me it was Opel’s new EV version of the Adam, I’d have thought hey, nice job, Opel! That’s a lovely update to the Adam!

But, it’s actually a lovely Smart, so I guess it’s Opel’s loss.

The left side of an off-white Smart #1

Man, that really feels Adam-like. Still, lots of nice details, like that kick-up of the lower dark area before the rear wheelarch, and the wheels themselves, which feel kind of, um, techno-floral? The proportions are good, and I like the bluff front end profile, too.

A Smart #1 plugged in to charge

I do like that pinched dog-bone lighting design, which incorporates a full-width light bar, and that motif carries to the rear, which has a similarly-shaped full-width taillight. The taillights have an interesting particulate texture going on inside them which I think is really appealing and a very nice bit of lighting design:

A tight left rear three-quarter shot of the Smart #1

The interior also plays a lot with light, with an illuminated pattern in the center of the dash and some neon-like light striping along the outer edges of the dash and inside the HVAC vents:

I like what I’m seeing on the interior here; it’s not painfully dark and monochrome, there’s a lot of good surfaces with satisfying-looking curves and a variety of textures going on. Instrument placement looks good, with a wide LCD instrument panel in front of the driver and a big tablet-like center stack screen that houses, I guess, every other control, since there’s hardly any physical buttons to be seen:

I’m not crazy about totally eliminating physical HVAC controls and all that, but it’s becoming so very common I’m starting to feel like an old crank. Sorry, more like an old crank.

There’s a little pass-through under the center console there, so you and your passenger can clandestinely hold hands, if you’d like.

One detail I’m absolutely delighted to see is the inclusion of this tiny yet still useful frunk:

I love that Smart bothered to take the effort to carve out this little volume, because the truth is that even a tiny frunk is useful for things like charging cables, as you can see here, and this effort is absolutely appreciated. Volkswagen should look at this and then at their ID.4’s huge frunkless volume up front and feel a little ashamed.

From what I’ve seen, I like what Smart is doing with this little EV thing–it seems practical and pleasant to potentially live with. What I like less is this weird promo campaign they’re doing with kids as Smart’s “future CEO” and other executive staff:

I’m not sure what it is, but there’s something unsettling about this, because I can’t help but wonder how exactly Smart knows what these kids’ future will be? They can’t, unless, and stay with me here, Smart is in control of these children.

I’m not accusing anyone of anything yet, but this sure seems like maybe Smart has genetically engineered their ideal future management team and has grown these children in vats, and is currently training them to fulfill their roles as CEOs and VP of Sales and Lead Engineer or whatever.

I’m not saying this image may be a facility at Smart HQ where their future CEO was gestated. I’m also not not saying that.

 

(images: Smart, Opel, 20th Century Fox)

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43 Responses

  1. Were those last couple of paragraphs a test to see if anyone read the whole piece? Good thing I wasn’t drinking milk while reading that or it surely would have come out of my nose. Keep keeping it weird, guys.

    1. I think the original Smart was much misunderstood in North America. I have had one since new in 2004 along with a whole slew of performance cars in the same period.

      The reason to own the original diesel Smart was to be able to drive in a congested city and always find parking.

      I live in Toronto downtown. If I want to drive across the city centre the average speed is about 20mph. People used to post all sorts of nonsense of Smarts vs Kenworths and the like. The reality was the the Smart is tall and susceptible to crosswinds on a big highway, so I rarely drive it there. It is has a 0-60 time of about 24 seconds. Perfect for the city, and I can get parking in any half spot. After 17 years it has about 22,000 miles on it. I don’t care if there is a little parking dent (though there are not many).

      The new car looks pretty good but it does not have the same purpose as the original.

  2. It looks like it might be a perfectly fine small crossover, and the styling is also perfectly fine. However, it has no personality and looks pretty generic overall—not what I’d expect from Smart, whose previous cars were at least distinctive, if dorky.

    And that name… dated out of the gate. “Hashtag whatever” has already gone from novel, to trendy, to annoying, to meme fodder, to played out—years ago. It’s like a dad trying out what he thinks is the latest lingo on his middle-schooler. “Your old man is pretty fly, huh?”

    1. I don’t think it’s generic at all. Every other CUV on the road has a pooping-dog roofline and looks like a cross between an electric razor and a crinkle cut french fry. This is almost unique in its lack of those annoyances.

    1. About two tons, according to other sources. Which isn’t bad for an EV, but man I’m excited for some small EV coupes/hatches with lower power, smaller batteries (150 miles range, maybe?), and a weight in pounds that starts with a 2.

      1. The Mini SE just misses your mark. I’m sure we can find 10 lb to kick out… the back seat is probably not worth its weight. Or a hot version with a carbon fiber hatch?

        I would like to see more designs like this… 2 hours of squirting around twisty roads seems like plenty. I think I read somewhere that there was a link between battery storage capacity and the max power that you can draw. Maybe the Autopian’s engineers can explain? But even so you only need the extra watts for 10 seconds… maybe a supercapacitor could add some kick. That might help to juice up the battery a little faster too?

  3. Hell, the Smart’un would have been a better name.

    The car itself looks great, except that damn stuck-on tablet look. It’s as if they designed this sleek modern interior and then went, “oh crap, we need a screen!” Is it not possible (yet) to just project the contents of the screen onto the lower-middle part of the windshield? Seems like that would solve the ugly screen problem, and be safer, since it’s basically a HUD.

  4. I’m not a fan of that roof treatment. It seams to be a minor fad that crops up every few years. I think Renault beat on that for a while. It just looks tacky.

    What I have become really curious about is did these manufactures actually focus group the idea of removing all physical buttons in their cars? Like, who is this for? What kind of survey led to this outcome? Every so often you see bad ergonomic decisions that are such head scratchers.

  5. That center screen interface looks like a disaster. Floating boxes, busy background, small hit targets. While so many cars have moved every function to the screen, the interfaces themselves typically involve large boxes in a grid pattern that’s uniform and easy to understand at a glance. The layout is rigid, so that even if you’re able to customize what icon is where, you know where your finger needs to go. Smart should have stayed with a stripped down version of MBUX instead.

    1. Floating boxes… Droopy Foxes? Why has no one mentioned the fox? What is that thing? Is it some kind of wildlife warning system? Smart’s version of Clippy? It’s sort of too realistic a rendering to be cute… maybe it gets angry if you don’t use regen braking?

    2. Small hit targets is one of the main safety issues with screens. I dont know why the manufacturers dont make them huge, many controls are binary, volume up/down, temp up/down, fan speed up/down etc. so once volume/temp etc is selected, why not make half the screen a massive up button , the other a massive down button?
      I guess there’d be more steps involved but I’ve thought for ages that this could be a way screens could be safer, if we must have all controls on screens.

  6. It’s not anything like a Smart, but that’s okay. It’s good-looking, feels fresh, and if it’s priced down in Nissan Leaf range, it would be a good value.

    But I don’t want one. It’s just not special. It feels designed by a committee. Admittedly, a committee with good taste, but still, it feels like it came from marketers, not engineers & designers.

    The cost-cutting trick of sticking all the controls in a big tablet just sucks. Give me less gimmicks and some buttons I can push without digging through a menu or staring at a screen if cost is an issue.

    I do really like the seats and that center console, though.

  7. I like this car. In the picture from above it reminds me of a Mini, but I see the Adam. What I don’t like is the Smart name. I have always thought that the original Smart cars were anything but smart, at least in the US. I can see where a tiny car like that could make sense in Europe or Asia, but here it never seemed practical to me, plus for a car that small I think their gas mileage is unimpressive. My Miata can get similar mileage and is more practical, which is bizarre to say about a Miata. Anyway, I wish them luck with these.

  8. I like the design of this. Unique headlights, no excessive creases or folds, doesn’t look excessively angry, great wheels. Some have called this boring, but a clean design can be a good one.

    1. This is the first time I’ve seen a design that makes me think the Mercedes “no creases” design language _could_ actually work. Everything else I’ve seen it tried on looks terrible, but this works.

  9. OK, I think we need to have a serious chat at some point about why automakers aren’t taking full advantage of the fact that they no longer have to wedge a considerably hefty ICE somewhere into the package of an EV.

    Designers are given a blank slate for design, where you absolutely could maximize space (get rid of that dumb hood space,) improve handling (push out the wheels to the corners,) open up the cabin (no drive shaft.)

    Apart from VW, no one seems to be taking advantage of any of this – I would at least expect Smart to do something interesting, but instead, they waste a third of the vehicle with pointless hood.

  10. The #1 badge on the back is killing me. I’m imagining one of these driving slow in the left lane and the driver smugly going “I know” as people fly by in the right lane and tell them they are #1.

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