New 2023 Smart electric SUV will retain concept car’s styling

Upcoming rival to the Hyundai Kona Electric and Vauxhall Mokka-e is expected to closely resemble the Smart Concept #1 unveiled at 2021 Munich motor show

Newly filed patent images have given us our first look at the forthcoming electric SUV from Smart: the car responsible for kickstarting the brand's revival under the co-ownership of Chinese automotive group Geely.

The drawings, filed with the European Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), show the currently-unnamed EV featuring many of the design aspects seen on the Concept #1, which was unveiled in September 2021 at the IAA Mobility show in Munich.

These include a roof that ‘floats’ above the cabin, plus a smooth, minimalist front bumper, a full-width lightbar across the rear and short overhangs to maximise interior space. However, given the placement of the handles on the rear doors, it’s safe to assume that the concept’s 'coach doors' won’t make production. The production car also looks like it will sport a smaller set of wheels than the 21-inch alloys featured on the Concept #1.

We can’t discern any details about the new electric family SUV’s cabin from the drawings, but we already know the four-seat layout of the Concept #1 will likely be replaced by a more traditional five-seater configuration. According to Smart, the car has been designed to offer the same amount of cabin space as much larger vehicles, plus plenty of storage room.

The Concept #1 also featured a panoramic sunroof and 12.8-inch ‘floating’ central infotainment touchscreen, but we don’t know yet if either will be included on the production car. When it arrives in 2023, Smart’s first electric SUV will compete with the likes of Peugeot e-2008, Hyundai Kona Electric and Vauxhall Mokka-e, among others, based on the proportions of the Concept #1 (below).

When discussing the styling of the concept, chief designer Gorden Wagener said: “The new sporty Concept #1 is a redefinition of the Smart brand in a very cool grown-up way. We have created a completely new design DNA that has the potential to establish smart as the leading design brand.”

Under the metal, the Smart SUV will use an electric-vehicle platform developed by Geely, which is set to underpin a wide range of models from various brands in its empire, including the Lynk & Co Zero and some future electric Volvos. Smart didn’t disclose any performance, battery size or range figures for either the Concept #1 or the production version, however.

The architecture it's to be based on can support single, dual or triple-motor layouts, as well as sufficient battery capacity for around 400 miles of driving range. Smart’s forthcoming electric SUV is likely to feature a single electric motor, rapid charging capabilities and be capable of covering around 200 miles on a single charge. That would be enough to make it competitive on paper against other electric family cars, including entry-level versions of both the Volkswagen ID.3 and ID.4.

Pricing is another aspect of the production model that remains unconfirmed for now, but Smart says it wants to remain an accessible brand, so its electric SUV will probably start from around £30,000 based on its rivals’ price tags and so that customers will be to take advantage of the government’s plug-in car grant (PiCG), too.

Smart’s forthcoming electric SUV isn’t the first zero-emissions model the brand has launched, with its current line-up including the Smart EQ ForFour and Smart EQ ForTwo city cars, the latter of which is also available in convertible Cabrio form, too.

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