Automotive

Looks by Benz, body by Geely: Smart previews its upcoming compact SUV

Looks by Benz, body by Geely: ...
Suicide doors always look cool, but very rarely make it to production
Suicide doors always look cool, but very rarely make it to production
View 11 Images
Suicide doors always look cool, but very rarely make it to production
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Suicide doors always look cool, but very rarely make it to production
A smooth and striking design
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A smooth and striking design
The start of a new design direction for the all-electric Smart brand
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The start of a new design direction for the all-electric Smart brand
Full-length panoramic sunroof
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Full-length panoramic sunroof
I hope you like LED light accents
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I hope you like LED light accents
Reasonably spacious-looking rear seat row will have three seats in production
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Reasonably spacious-looking rear seat row will have three seats in production
12.8-inch touchscreen at the end of a floating gold center console
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12.8-inch touchscreen at the end of a floating gold center console
21-inch wheels and funky concept tires
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21-inch wheels and funky concept tires
Super-cool looking LED taillights will certainly get a lot more boring by the time they reach production
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Super-cool looking LED taillights will certainly get a lot more boring by the time they reach production
The Concept #1 puts a smooth, clamshelled Mercedes-Benz design on a compact electric crossover
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The Concept #1 puts a smooth, clamshelled Mercedes-Benz design on a compact electric crossover
A production model with all the fun bits chopped off is expected soon
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A production model with all the fun bits chopped off is expected soon
View gallery - 11 images

Smart has unveiled a sweet-looking "near production" preview of its next-gen electric urban cars. The Concept #1 is a compact crossover SUV with a super-slick interior and easy-access suicide doors in back – and it's huge ... for a Smart car, anyway.

"Progressive design, premium equipment and advanced technology" are the key targets for Smart moving forward, says Daniel Lescow, VP of Global Sales. Smart is now an equal partnership co-owned by Mercedes-Benz and China's Geely Automobile, and the next generation of these chipper little urban getabouts will be Mercedes-Benz exterior and interior designs built on a battery-electric chassis developed by Geely.

The design of the Concept #1 looks progressive enough, although most of the really eye-catching features, like the rear suicide doors, the full-length panoramic glass roof, the 21-inch wheels, the gold cabin accents and the shiny iPhone 3G-style plastic seat backs will likely be toned way down or thrown out altogether by the time this reaches production.

The Concept #1 puts a smooth, clamshelled Mercedes-Benz design on a compact electric crossover
The Concept #1 puts a smooth, clamshelled Mercedes-Benz design on a compact electric crossover

But production is always a drag; the Benz team sure does know how to make a clean, futuristic looking cabin either way, this time with a splash of gaudy excess thrown in the mix. A gleaming center console runs up between the front seats, acting as a rather grand golden runway up to a large 12.8-inch touchscreen. As a father of two, all I can imagine is cleaning grubby fingerprints off these smooth surfaces forever after.

LED lighting accents are everywhere, inlaid in the floor, the doors, the dash, the sunroof, the seats, the door trims, you name it. They're peppered across the exterior too. The Germans seem to be able to get away with decking cars out with great ropes of neon light while keeping the overall effect within the boundaries of good taste, and for that they must be commended.

The car itself is designed to marry a reasonably compact chassis with a roomy interior for four. Its exterior dimensions, at 4,290 x 1,910 x 1,698 mm (169 x 75 x 67 in) make it a bit wider and taller than a Mazda CX-5, but about 26 cm (10 in) shorter front to back, closer to a Mini Countryman. The interior certainly looks pleasantly spacious enough in the photos, especially with those opposing doors thrown wide open.

I hope you like LED light accents
I hope you like LED light accents

The production car will be a five-seater, says Smart, boasting "the highest level of dynamic handling and passive safety." It'll receive OTA software updates, have driver assist features like park assist, evasive steering assist, a motorway assistant and an emergency lane assistant available, and it'll have an AI-enhanced "virtual companion" you can talk to that is capable of learning and adapting to your preferences. These will position the upcoming Smart toward the premium end of the compact crossover spectrum.

We'll have to wait and see what that ends up looking like, but we wouldn't expect to be waiting too long, and certainly the direction on display here is promising.

Source: Smart

View gallery - 11 images
8 comments
8 comments
paleochocolate
Man, frick Geely.
vince
Anything Benz inspired will be pricey. No thanks.
Dirk Scott
A “gleaming centre console “. Why? The annoying lump in the centre of a car is historically where the transmission took the power mechanically from the internal combustion engine to the rear wheels. It is no longer necessary. My 16-year-old Fiat Multipla does not have one and instead has an extra seat, so it seats six. The full width bench seat is also extremely cosy, if you’re in the mood. It is time for this antique to be lost from car design.
Koolski
Looks like a fist.
oldpistachio
"... battery-electric chassis developed by Geely."

So, is there any need for the grill?
Johannes
@oldpistachio Even in EVs, there's still a need for managed airflow to assist with cooling - for the a/c, battery, etc. It's a pity that the concept images show such a gaudy interior. IMO anything that distracts or conflicts with attention to what's going on outside is a problem. Until Level 5 autonomy, that is.
Jbizzie
Nice looking ride. Futuristic with nice Benz inspired styling. Wonder if it’ll actually have some balls and handling or just be another cheap, neutered, slow sh*tbox like the VW EV?
Bruce H. Anderson
No B pillar? Maybe a magnetic seal like on 2-door refrigerators will keep the front and rear side windows sealed. No pillar may mean more structure (weight) in roof and frame, which means more weight, which means less efficiency. But Benz buyers will not be concerned as long as it has a star in front.