Smart 1 Premium (2024) review
The all-electric Smart brand has arrived in Ireland. What’s the aptly-named #1 crossover like?
Shane O' Donoghue
Shane O' Donoghue

Published on May 16, 2024

Smart #1 overview

The arrival of the Smart #1 in Ireland signifies a concerted effort by the company to finally make an impact on these shores. While the Mercedes sub-division has been selling small, efficient city cars in the rest of Europe since 1998, most Smarts in Ireland have been UK imports, but now that the company is a joint venture between Mercedes and China’s Geely, the #1 crossover is officially coming to Ireland as the first product of this partnership.

As is common across the new-car market, the #1 taps into the popularity of cars that look anything like an SUV or crossover, albeit one with a fully electric powertrain. The new joint venture sees Smart as an all-electric brand from now on (although it does have past experience of electrification, because the previous ForTwo and ForFour models were sold as EVs), with the #1 here shortly followed by the #3 (another crossover), and then the #5 (yet another SUV) at a later date to be confirmed.

Mercedes joined forces with Geely to help reduce production costs, so while the German firm designed the Smart #1 inside and out, the Chinese company manages the car’s platform and assembly. As a result, it’s based on the Geely’s flamboyantly-named Sustainable Experience Architecture, a modular platform that underpins a range of other cars. As well as being used for the trio of new Smarts, it’s the basis for the Volvo EX30 and the Zeekr X, which is an electric SUV that’s currently only sold in China.

The Smart #1 is offered at a price that’s similar to the EX30’s, although that car is slightly smaller, while other electric options include top-spec versions of the Opel Mokka and Peugeot E-2008, entry-level versions of the Volkswagen ID.4 and even the Jeep Avenger and DS3.

The Smart #1 model range

Irish prices for the Smart #1 start from €37,479, which gets you behind the wheel of a car in Pro trim. This features a decent amount of equipment including 19-inch alloy wheels, full LED lights front and rear with auto main beam, keyless entry and starting, front and rear parking sensors and a 360-degree camera system, adaptive cruise control, a panoramic glass roof, two-zone climate control, synthetic leather upholstery, electrically adjustable and heated front seats with memory function for the driver’s seat, a sliding rear bench seat with 60:40 split and a powered tailgate.

Infotainment is handled by a 12.8-inch central display with bespoke - and quirky - graphics that includes navigation and smartphone compatibility, while there’s a separate 9.2-inch driver’s display. There are drive modes - Eco, Comfort and Sport - while safety equipment includes Smart pilot assist, which offers active lane assist with blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision alert and traffic sign detection, plus it means the adaptive cruise works in stop-start traffic.

Moving up to Pro+ spec sees the price increase to €41,894, bringing with it faster charging, with the 7.4kW AC maximum of the standard Pro model bumped up to 22kW, while the maximum DC charging speed increases from 130kW to 150kW. Also added are trailer stability assist (the #1 can tow up to 1,600kg) and roll stability control.

Spend €48,332 on the Premium model tested here, and there’s a more substantial upgrade, with additions including that all-important heat pump (to help with efficiency - and therefore range - in colder weather), a head-up display, park assist, wireless phone charging, duo-leather seats, matrix LED headlights, a Beats audio system, a leather trimmed-steering wheel, cabin air filtration and LED ambient lighting.

All these versions of the Smart #1 come with the same powertrain, featuring a 272hp electric motor driving the rear wheels for a 0-100km/h time of 6.7 seconds. Quoted range for the Pro is 310km using a 47kWh battery (that’s the usable energy capacity), while the rest of the line-up gets a 66kWh battery instead. Hence, the #1 Pro+ officially manages 420km on a full charge, while the Premium can cover 440km thanks to the addition of a heat pump perhaps.

At the top of the line-up is the Smart #1 Brabus. While the aftermarket firm is known for its wildly modified Mercedes, it has also given its name to sportier incarnations of Smart’s models. So, it’s appropriate that the #1 Brabus is the most powerful version in the portfolio. It costs from €54,170, and this gets you four-wheel drive from a two-motor set-up that makes a huge 428hp for a 0-100km/h time of 3.9 seconds. However, it has the same battery as the other cars, so an official range of 400km isn’t as good as the cheaper Premium model’s.

As well as more power, the Brabus adds a sportier body kit with red accents, a racier 19-inch wheel design over red brake callipers and sports suspension. Inside there’s microsuede upholstery for the seats, an Alcantara sports steering wheel and metal pedals. A fourth drive mode - called Brabus - is added too, for sharper response, while simulated engine sounds can be piped into the cabin.

The Smart #1 interior

From the outside, the Smart #1’s smooth shape looks different enough, although we think that the two-tone Classic Red of our car helps the looks, and if you eliminated the roof rails, it would be more tall hatchback than SUV in appearance.

One area where the #1 doesn’t disappoint is in terms of equipment. Even the entry-level model is loaded with kit, while this Premium model is positively luxurious. All versions come with a large central display that’s set atop a high centre console offering lots of storage. There are three individual covers, with the central armrest bin offering chilled storage if you need it, then a centre section with cup holders and a slot to hold a phone.

You also get a sloped wireless charger (on Premium models) that’s grippy, so your phone is held in place, while there are also a pair of USB-C sockets and a 12-volt connection. Beneath all of this is another deep storage bin for hiding valuables, while the door pockets on either side are vast. The only downside with cabin storage is the glovebox, which is only average in size.

That large centre screen features funky graphics, and these are carried over to the driver’s display. Smart has gone its own way with the user interface, so you get an on-screen assistant in the shape of a fox, while the menu system offers climate controls across the bottom of the screen, with other functions selected via the main display.

Cabin quality is good, with the upholstery - which is part-leather, part synthetic hide - offering an upmarket feel, and the plastics feel as if they’re built to a high standard.

In the back, the sliding bench seat is a useful addition that boosts practicality, while the seat backs also tilt so that you can maximise boot space or comfort. For passengers there’s plenty of space, and headroom isn’t affected by the standard-fit panoramic roof, either. Passengers in the back benefit from air vents and USB-C sockets, while there are two sets of ISOFIX child seat mounts in the back, plus another set on the front passenger seat.

Boot space of 313 litres isn’t brilliant for the class (the most practical hatchbacks can carry more) and that’s partly because of the location of the Smart’s rear-mounted electric motor. It still comes with under-floor storage, though, plus a powered tailgate, a through-loading facility for the back seats and a 12-volt socket. There’s additional storage under the bonnet, too, although it’s tiny - charging cables won’t even fit.

The Smart #1 driving experience

Power for the Smart #1 Premium comes from a single rear-mounted electric motor that makes up to 272hp and 384Nm of torque, resulting in a claimed 0-100km/h time of 6.7 seconds. And the #1 does feel rapid in a straight line, especially when the Sport driving mode is selected, with quick response pinning you back in the seat.

However, while the Smart #1 is fast, it’s not particularly sporty to drive. The steering is pleasantly enough weighted, but it feels disconnected from the road, making it difficult to judge what’s happening under the tyres. And while there’s a rear-wheel-drive layout, and the car’s back end can be provoked with a stab of the accelerator pedal, there’s still some semblance of the stability control system keeping things in check, even when you’ve supposedly switched the system off. This all indicates that Smart doesn’t expect its buyers to indulge in such shenanigans.

Unfortunately, this lack of a sporting edge doesn’t translate into the last word in comfort, either. While the car’s body control isn’t particularly taut, there’s no trade off with a comfortable ride when taking things easy. It could do with being a good deal softer to deal with Irish roads.

During our time with the Smart #1 we saw efficiency of 18kWh/100km, while a full charge registered 430km - only 10km behind the officially quoted range. As with many EVs, there are different levels of energy recovery on offer, but we found it quite inconsistent when coming to a complete stop, making it difficult to do so smoothly.

Our verdict on the Smart #1 Premium

The Smart #1 is certainly a worthwhile addition to the Irish EV landscape. The curvy looks won’t be to all tastes, perhaps, but it is certainly interesting, a theme that carries through to the spacious and high-quality interior. The Pro+ version may be the sensible choice given the higher price of the Premium car tested here, but either way there’s ample performance on tap and a usefully efficient electric system underpinning it all. If you’re in the market for an EV around the €40,000 mark and fancy something different from the norm, yet quite competent, it’s worth taking a test dive in the #1.


Tech Specs

Model testedSmart #1 Premium
Irish pricing#1 starts at €37,479; as tested €48,332
Powertrainelectric - rear-mounted 200kW motor and battery of 62kWh usable capacity
Transmissionautomatic - single-speed gearbox, rear-wheel drive
Body stylefive-door, five-seat crossover
CO2 emissions0g/km
Irish motor tax€120 per annum
Energy consumption16.8kWh/100km
Official range440km
Max charging speeds150kW on DC, 22kW on AC
Top speed180km/h
0-100km/h6.7 seconds
Max power272hp
Max torque384Nm
Boot space313 litres rear seats up, 976 litres rear seats down
Max towing weight1,600kg (braked trailer)
Kerb weight1,800kg
Rivals to the Smart 1