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IAA Munich Motor Show Part Two: smart


Words and selected images by Ken Pearson 


Welcome to part two of our exploration of this year's IAA Munich motor show. In part one, we looked at the armada of new production models from Mercedes-Benz which you can read about here. In part two, it's time for us to hop over to the smart stand and meet a new member of the model family.


The revitalisation of the brand is well and truly underway with the #1 SUV establishing itself on roads from Reykjavík to Reading. The #1 was always going to be the start of a new range of products and smart have now unveiled their second all-electric model which will soon be coming our way. Called the #3, it is a five door fastback SUV coupé which evolves the new design language of smart. The A-frame grille is topped by a full-width light bar at the front with a two-pronged outer edge design which is mirrored at the rear with a horizontal light bar with angled secondary light strips. New wheel designs and body colours like frozen blue matte and radiant orange metallic will be available for the #3. The biggest design differentiation is the sloping roofline which gently falls into the short rear deck. The coupé roofline is visibly separated from the body by some black trim at the front and rear of the roof's metalwork. This truly does make the roof appear to float above the #3's metalwork.


Smart #3 Exterior 

Inside, it is certainly evolutionary with a lot of the cabin design coming straight over from the #1. This means that a 9" instrument cluster sits in front of the driver with a 12" central screen handling the infotainment. The #3 gets three circular air vents at the base of the infotainment display as opposed to two ovular vents in the #1. Will the next model from smart have 5 central vents? Who knows. But there is more to the car than its number of air vents. The seats are a totally different design with a slimmer frame and more defined padded sections. The side bolsters hug your body and from first impressions, the seats are as comfortable as those found in the #1 but allow for a better driving position from their reduced size. The rear sees three equally squishy and comfortable seats with two ISOFIX anchor points on the outer pair. In spite of the roofline sloping down, headroom is plentiful and legroom is not in short supply either.



Smart #3 Interior Smart #3 Seats


The smart #3 is ever so slightly larger than the #3 with a slightly stretched wheelbase and a capacious boot that offers 370 litres of space with the rear seats raised, or 1160 with them folded down. Like the #1, the #3 comes with one or two motors linked up to a 66 kWh battery. Owing to the improved aerodynamics that the teardrop roofline offers, WLTP driving ranges get a slight boost of up to 282 miles - up from 273 in the smart #1 Premium.


Whilst we will have to wait a little longer for the UK launch, the model structure has already been announced. Entry-level Pro+ models come with the panoramic halo roof, 360-degree camera, active cruise control with Smart Pilot Assist, LED headlights, powered heated seats, 19" wheels and much more. Premium equipment models gain a head-up display, the brilliant 13-speaker Beats sound system, automatic parking, matrix LED headlights and a heat pump.



Smart #3 Pro+ Model Smart #3 Premium Model


The range is crowned by the high performance #3 BRABUS that adds a second electric motor for all-wheel drive. Power jumps from 272 hp to 428 and the 0-62 mph sprint falls from 5.8 seconds to just 3.7 seconds. BRABUS models can be spotted at a glance with their deeper front splitter design, red trim and BRABUS badging with 20" wheels on each axle. The interior is trimmed in microfibre suede with front seat ventilation as standard. The seats also feature the BRABUS double-B logo embossed on the front headrests and the BRABUS wordmark on the steering wheel is illuminated.


Smart #3 BRABUS Model Smart #3 BRABUS Interior

That's not all though - the launch of the #3 coincides with the 25th anniversary of the smart brand. The #3 will be available with a special edition model to celebrate this milestone. Based on the Premium equipment level, the model gains black and red exterior trim with two-tone black and silver 19" wheels. The interior carries on the black, white and red theme with an edition badge on the centre console to mirror those on the exterior. The glass roof features LED lighting within the glass which I have experienced before in the BMW X5 and iX - I think it's a rather cool feature to have.


All models will feature 22kW AC charging as standard along with 150kW DC charging capability. Specifications may be slightly altered for our market and whilst all the launch images for Europe only show models with a body coloured roof, images from China show an optional black roof for all model lines and a red roof available for the BRABUS. Pricing has already been revealed for the German market, where deliveries will commence by the end of the year, we will have to wait a little bit longer for our right hand drive versions to reach the UK. We expect this to land on our shores in spring 2024 with pricing to be announced prior to that.


Overall, the first impressions are good. It's a smart for different tastes; if the smart #1 is a tikka masala then the #3 is a tandoori masala. Slightly different but different enough to want one more than the other. Which flavour of smart are you most drawn to? This has been part two of our IAA Munich 2023 retrospective. The third and final instalment is all about the concept and near-production cars on display which you can read here.

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