How is the smart BRABUS #1 after 2 weeks?
- Moritz L.
- 3,200 Views
Comfortable and mature
.. that's what I wrote in October last year after I drove a pre-production vehicle. This impression has now become even clearer: the smart #1 is a very well-engineered vehicle. Especially the hardware leaves absolutely nothing to be desired. With the 66 kWh battery, you can reach a realistic 300 km, even with my 315 kW (428 hp) BRABUS variant.
The interior is very nicely insulated, of course nothing creaks or creaks. Even at 185 km/h you can have a pleasant conversation in the interior and thanks to the good chassis the smart is still good on the road. The smart #1 is not as stiff and hard as a Tesla Model Y and also not as spongy as a Mercedes EQC either. It strikes a nice, comfortable mediocrity. Both on the Autobahn and in the middle of the Black Forest, it's a lot of fun. Especially the BRABUS, which has a perfect 50/50 weight distribution.
Even in the city, the smart #1 is surprisingly easy to maneuver and compact. To be honest, I was skeptical myself when I read in other reviews that the #1 was perfect for the city. Coming from the smart fortwo, it's hard to imagine that this car is supposed to be a city car.
But there is definitely something to it, although of course it's not as small as the fortwo. For a modern car, the smart #1 is very compact and thanks to the cameras, sensors, mirrors and 360° bird's eye view, it's super easy to maneuver into every gap and parking space. And especially with the large amount of space in the interior, it is a real alternative to the smart forfour at the latest.
Lots of equipment and good workmanship
Above all, of course, in my BRABUS you really can't complain about the workmanship. But the Premium and the other variants also have a remarkably beautifully finished interior. In addition, you have almost all the features you can imagine. The head-up display (from Premium) shows the most important information directly in the windscreen, so that you no longer need the "tachometer".
The speedometer is a great thing if you activate the "smart Pilot". This is essentially like the basic autopilot from Tesla. It manages to reliably follow the lane and keep the distance to the vehicle in front. The smart even doesn't let himself be put off by construction sites and shows everything he sees on the road on the speedometer display. So the question never arises "Does he see that?", I already appreciate that about Tesla's autopilot.
Like Tesla's basic autopilot, the smart Pilot cannot change lanes. But smart has solved this in a much more pleasant way than Tesla: You turn on the indicator, the smart pilot automatically turns off and you change lanes. As soon as you are in the new lane, the smart pilot engages again and takes over. With Tesla you have to deactivate the autopilot and then activate it again by hand.
Of course, you are still supported when changing lanes by the blind spot warning system in the mirror.
You also get LED headlights, a digital key, an app and the 360° camera as standard, along with many other things. The only thing missing from the list of equipment you can think of is the heated steering wheel. A type 2 charging cable is also standard. For whatever reason, you have to book the floor mats for €100 separately. The 22 kW charger has recently also became standard. Something that is otherwise only granted to the upper class and also costs extra there.
And because all that is not enough, there is also a huge glass roof with an electric shutter. This closes automatically when you park the car. So that the interior does not directly overheat in the blazing sun. If you want to control the temperature even more precisely, you can set the air conditioning system so that the interior should also be cooled when parked. Basically like Tesla's dog mode, ideal for the dog or even small children while you go shopping.
From the premium line there is a Beats high-end sound system with 13 speakers. Personally, I will probably appreciate the cooling compartment in the center console above all in my job. Always having a cool fizzy water is a very fine thing.
Software and OTA updates
Even the software is already quite mature. Although I had some difficulties setting up my app and the car at the beginning, this was probably due to my dealer. More than a year ago, I reported why I don't find selling the #1 via Mercedes partners ideal. But once I had that under control, the software was really good.
In contrast to the hardware, there are still a few small things that I would have like to be improve:
- The turn signal noise had disturbed practically everyone to whom I had shown the smart. That sounds somehow different, Chinese. Some choice would be nice. Although you got used to it after 48 hours without any problems.
- The attention warning thing is sometimes quite meticulous and already warns if you only briefly change the music and do not look directly at the road. That's a little too fussy and I'd much prefer it to be more reserved.
- Personally, I'm not a big fan of lane warning assistants. The smart does that well and, above all, significantly better than, for example, the drunk Hyundai Kona EV. However, I would like to be able to turn it off permanently.
- Last but not least, I think it would be great if the navigation system didn't show me every motorway exit that I don't have to take. I'm only interested in the ones I have to get out of and to which one can count down in full 50 meter steps. Not in odd numbers.
But the nice thing about the software is that you can easily fix such details with an update. And apart from these detail points, it's really good. After successfully setting up the vehicle, the fox shows you where everything is and you can find your way around very quickly. It's not as cluttered and opaque as the BMW i4, for example. With a single gesture you have the most important buttons on the display and things like indicators, rain wipers and high beam can be reached even faster via mechanical buttons in the car.
But what I personally find most remarkable about the software: Although I come from the CarPlay smartEQfortwo myself, I don't miss it. The #1 will also be able to do CarPlay via an update in the future, but it doesn't really need it. The smart #1 manages the balancing act between good software with a large display and good usability without being distracting. It feels like a very reasonable combination of Tesla's software and Apple's iOS.
What particularly impressed me personally: over-the-air updates work from day 1 at smart. Either independently and without any action on your part, or you set that you want to update yourself: The fox then informs you when a new update is available and can be loaded. You can then download it anytime, anywhere. No WiFi is necessary for this, it works via the integrated and free mobile network. When the vehicle is stationary and you have time, you can start the update and it will run through itself. Already did that twice.
The fox - a gimmick?
There is this fox throughout the infotainment. Opinions are divided on him and after I was initially skeptical, I now think he's okay. The smart #1 is particularly popular with women in China, and the fox plays a major role there. Accordingly, he is also emphasized a lot in our press material.
But in general the fox is a smart buddy and quite reserved. It gives the smart a little character and always pops up when you need it. For example, if there is an update or the charging cable is not plugged in properly. But it also leaves you alone when you're just driving. Of course he's a bit playful and not dead serious like a Mercedes. But in my opinion, that has always been the essence of smart.
However, it is still true that I would like Microsoft's Clippy to be available as a buddy there.
space for everyone
I'm 1.90 m tall and have plenty of space in the entire vehicle, no matter what seat I'm in. Even if I adjust the driver's seat for myself, I still have more than enough room in the seat behind me. I could also push the split (3/2) rear seat forward a little to have more space in the trunk.
The first trip with the smart #1 was to drive my parents to the airport with their luggage for two weeks. One in the passenger seat and one in the back. Folded down the single seat and pulled the other two 5 cm forward. Without it getting cramped for anyone, there was enough space for all the luggage and my parents.
Only the center console could be a bit narrower for my taste. It comes pretty close to the right knee when driving.
The charging curve itself is really great. The smart #1 is advertised with up to 150 kW, but I actually charged it several times with a peak of 158 kW. This allows it to charge the battery from 10 to 80% in just under 30 minutes. Also multiple times in a row. I drove a test to Paris and back (1,300 km), and the smart was neither loud nor throttled while charging.
It is also noticeable that the battery voltage of the #1 is relatively high. I'll have to analyze it more closely when I get a chance. But 370V seems to be terminal voltage and corresponds to a 0 % battery, while it is 450V at 90%. The battery is probably full at 460 V. This is still a 400 V system, but a relatively high voltage. Similar to the Mercedes EQS, the smart can also use the cheaper 400 V technology and still get the most out of it. This makes it a charging monster, especially over long distances. In everyday life, it should be the case that you no longer have to wait for the car when charging, but the car is done charging and waiting for you.
For example, the smart EQ fortwo workes between 320 V and 400 V, which is much more typical for 400 V systems.
BRABUS - Acceleration like no other in the price class
What I absolutely underestimated was how fast an acceleration from 0 - 100 km/h in 3.9 seconds is. The smart BRABUS #1 pulls extremely well, even among electric cars. That's faster than a Porsche Taycan 4S. Do you need that? Of course not. But it's fun and the motor on the front axle helps you through fast corners even better. That's very cool.
Nevertheless, I'm curious what I'll take next after the BRABUS #1 leasing. The Premium with 6.7 seconds is also very, very fast. Especially since the smart goes back to comfort mode every time it is restarted. So it only has rear-wheel drive anyway and behaves practically like a Premium. It would be nice if it remembered that I set it to sport mode.
The smart #1 is a very well-engenierd vehicle. When it comes to hardware, you have to search for a very long time to find something that you can complain about. Except for the slightly too thin steering wheel, I can't think of anything. And in terms of software, it's already very mature, especially for being brand new to the market. smart will certainly adjust the last few details in the coming months.
As long as smart can deliver enough cars, the smart #1 should become a bestseller in Europe. The price is right and the car is very well made. Aside from the weird-sounding turn signal and the working OTA updates, you don't notice that it's built in China. The latter is something that the German car manufacturers can only achieve with great difficulty.
The only thing missing is the availability of the V2L adapter, with which Chinese smart #1 drivers can discharge the smart with up to 3.3 kW and thus operate a drill, for example. We're working on that in the forum.
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