The new all-electric Smart #1 has been crowned “Best Small SUV” at the 2023 What Car? EV Awards. The annual awards, which recognise both new and used electric cars from across the automotive spectrum, were announced during a live virtual ceremony broadcast from London.
The award completes a trio of accolades presented to the #1 by one of the UK’s most trusted automotive consumer advice publications. Having finished first in class and second overall in the 2023 What Car? Safety Award earlier this year, the #1 was also bestowed with a prestigious five-star rating by the title last Spring.
The panel of judges singled out several features of the #1 for particular praise, noting the car’s spacious interior, exceptional build quality, smooth ride and fast charging.
Editor Steve Huntingford, said: “The #1 is a lot more spacious than its compact length might lead you to believe, plus its elegantly styled interior is beautifully made. Long distance comfort is further enhanced by an impressively smooth high-speed ride and class-leading refinement. And the #1 is both quick to accelerate and quick to charge.”
ev.tips reviewed the compact SUV last week, and we were blown away by how well equipped, surprisingly spacious, swift and safe it was. And not just that, the #1 is also funky and delivers an entertaining drive.
A joint venture between Mercedes-Benz and Chinese giant Geely (which also owns Volvo, Polestar and Lotus), the latest Smart is a pure electric vehicle and the first fruit of the new partnership. In our review’s words, it’s quite simply, one of the best EVs in the £35-£40,000 price bracket.
Competitively priced from £35,950, there are two Smart #1 specs (Pro+ and Premium) and both get a 66kWh battery pack and a 268bhp motor that drives the rear wheels with 253lb-ft of torque.
Pro+ models get a decent 260-mile range, while Premium is capable of up to 273 miles thanks to the addition of a heat pump and other clever tweaks. Both accelerate from 0-62mph in just 6.7 seconds, while the healthy 150kW charging speed means a 10-80% top-up takes as little as 30 minutes.
Frankly, it feels rapid enough, but if you’re feeling flush and want serious performance, then opt for the range-topping Brabus #1. Starting at £43,450, this hot all-wheel-drive version gets an extra electric motor, develops a huge 422bhp and is capable of 0-62mph in just 3.9 seconds. The downside is that the range in the heavier Brabus #1 drops to 248 miles.
Inside, the Smart #1 is minimalist up front with just about everything controlled via the 12.8-inch central infotainment screen — Apple CarPlay is integrated, but Android Auto is yet to come — which is honestly one of the only few of our nitpicks, others being issues such as a modest boot and the interface being too touchscreen-focused. And maybe how the name is stylised (now that’s too much nitpicking).
The company says commencement of customer deliveries in September will mark a new chapter for smart off the road as well as on it. The #1 is the first car to be available online through smart’s direct-to-customer service in addition to its nationwide showroom network, as the brand continues to build on its foundations as a leading light in affordable and accessible electric vehicles.