New electric Smart SUV set for full reveal in autumn

Smart is making an electric SUV and our exclusive image shows what it could look like when it enters production in 2023

  • Set to go on sale in 2023
  • Looks previewed in exclusive images
  • Upmarket interior promised

Smart is expanding its range with a new electric SUV. The car, which is pictured here as an artist’s impression based on official design sketches, will make its debut at the Munich Motor Show this autumn ahead of production in 2023.

The electric SUV, currently unnamed, will join the small electric hatchbacks in the existing range, including the EQ ForTwo and EQ ForFour.

Hybrid vs plug-in hybrid vs electric cars

Smart and Mercedes are both owned by Daimler but Smart’s first SUV won’t share its underpinnings with the recently revealed Mercedes EQA. Instead, Daimler has collaborated with Geely, the company that owns Volvo, Polestar and Lotus, so the Smart will sit on Geely’s electrified ‘SEA’ platform.

While it’s based on Chinese technology, the new SUV has been designed by Smart’s in-house team, led by Mercedes design chief Gorden Wagener. In terms of size, we expect the new model to sit between a supermini and a family hatchback, similar to the MINI Countryman, with the ability to comfortably seat five adults.

Designing a bigger car has also led to a break from Smart’s traditional styling cues. The new SUV will look completely different to existing Smart models and will be the first to wear a refreshed logo. Wagener told our sister title, Auto Express: “We have taken the opportunity to reinvent the brand”. He said that the new Smart design will be “cool, sexy and grown-up instead of cute and playful”. A few similarities with the ForTwo and ForFour remain, however, including the two-tone paint job with a contrasting roof.

While we now have a good idea as to what the Smart SUV will look like on the outside, we can only speculate on the interior. We do, however, know that Smart is going for an upmarket look, perhaps with plush materials and the latest smartphone connectivity. A five-star safety rating is the target, so you can expect a range of driver assistance features like auto emergency braking and lane-keeping assist. We expect an infotainment system as advanced and feature-packed as the Mercedes MBUX setup.

The new SUV will be one of the first cars to be based on Geely’s Sustainable Experience Architecture (SEA) pure-electric platform, which will also underpin Volvo’s forthcoming baby SUV, the XC20. Since the SEA platform can accommodate a battery big enough to offer more than 430 miles of range in larger models, it’s highly likely that the new Smart SUV will offer around 200 miles between charges, which would make it competitive with the Peugeot e-2008, DS 3 Crossback E-Tense and Lexus UX 300e. The SEA platform also supports 800V technology, so the new Smart could also offer super-fast charging speeds that even trump those of Mercedes’ own models.

Wagener also hinted that the new SEA platform will ensure Smart’s new SUV provides impressive levels of practicality: “Just like the current Smart models, the first car of the new era will also offer a better ratio of length to interior space than conventional vehicles.”

A bigger Smart with larger batteries, premium materials and more range will no doubt result in a higher price tag too. But since it will be manufactured in China and the brand wants to continue producing cars that pack-a-punch for less, we expect the new electric SUV will at least be less expensive than the Mercedes EQA. Daniel Lescow, Smart’s Vice President of Global Sales, told Auto Express: “We will remain an accessible brand for our customers.”

What does it mean for car buyers?

The forthcoming electric Smart SUV should mean the company plays more than a bit part in the market. A bigger, more practical SUV body style will broaden its appeal, and the range should be at least double what you can achieve from the Smart EQ ForTwo and EQ ForFour, which are only capable of around 80 miles between charges. Prices are likely to start from roughly £30,000 after the plug-in car grant.

Read our guides to the best electric SUVs and the cheapest electric cars.

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