Supporting Motors

Mercedes-Benz in new collaboration to bring a new-look two-seat car to market


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Mercedes-Benz in new collaboration to bring a new-look two-seat car to market Mercedes-Benz in new collaboration to bring a new-look two-seat car to market

The original two-seater Smart cars that we once knew are like hen’s teeth here in Ireland as the collaboration back then between Mercedes and Swatch, the watch maker, never really took off here.

You will see many in big cities in Europe because they fit easily into tiny spaces and suits the lifestyle on the continent, but it never caught the imagination here.

Now, the Smart name is back in Ireland in a completely new guise. Again, Mercedes are involved and have partnered with the Chinese car manufacturer Geely on a 50/50 basis. The new Smart #1 (Hashtag One) is the name it has been given, and it bears no resemblance to the initial version. It follows the latest trend of small SUV cars that customers hanker after today.

We have seen a number of Chinese electric cars coming on the market over the last few years but this Smart #1 is a step above the others in terms of quality, practicality and driveability. There is a choice of four versions: an entry-level Pro, followed in turn by a Pro+ and Premium editions, and by an exclusive smart #1 BRABUS edition. In the case of Pro, Pro+ and Premium editions, all share the same attractive appearance, outside and inside, with some slight feature variations between them.

I have been enjoying the Premium version with the complete package of goodies. Space inside offers decent legroom and impressive headroom, but the seats are a bit on the narrow side and don’t exactly hug the body. This comes as a result of a big centre console that is a large feature of the attractive furnishings. The interior is also brightened up by a full-length glass panoramic roof that fills the cabin with lots of daylight.

Technical features are abundant via the 12.8 inch display screen that is clear and attractive. However, distraction becomes a real issue as some of the functions just don’t make sense. For example, you need to use that screen to adjust the external door mirrors. Why? Madness in my view!

Power comes from an all-electric motor driving the rear wheels. You get 200 kW performance with max torque of 343Nm and a upper limit speed of 180 km/h. Battery is a 66 kWh NCM unit delivering a maximum range of 420-440 kms (WLTP) from a full charge. That’s more like 350-380 in real life. Fast charging at 150kW (DC) takes 30 minutes from 10-80%.

On the road the Smart #1 is not too shoddy either. You will get from a standing start to 100kh in a brisk 6.7 seconds, and never feel that you are in any danger. Cornering on smooth surfaces is good and the ride, even on broken surfaces, will meet the demands of everyday drivers.

The Smart #1 range is marketed through dealer outlets within the Mercedes-Benz passenger car network and has a starting price of €37,479 for the Pro design line. The Premium model that has been tested here has a retail price of €48,332. That actually compares rather favourably to some other Chinese imports and with many of the EVs from our European car makers.

If you are looking at buying a small electric SUV that doesn’t compromise on style or individuality, and you like a bit of space on the inside, then the Smart #1 should be on your shopping list. Just a word of warning: the boot is really not very big and that might be a concession.

Pictured: The new Smart #1.

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