2023 smart #1 EV makes Malaysian debut at EVx – 66 kWh, 440 km range, 22 kW AC, Q4 launch, we drive it!

2023 smart #1 EV makes Malaysian debut at EVx – 66 kWh, 440 km range, 22 kW AC, Q4 launch, we drive it!

This is the new smart. Not just the car, which is called smart #1 (pronounced as hashtag one), but the company itself. Those who are old enough might remember the ‘smart car’ from the 90s, a Mercedes-Benz and Swatch collab that resulted in the iconic ForTwo, the larger ForFour and the Roadster sports car – remember those funky little things?

Nothing remains cool forever though, and smart’s hot start petered out to a mere existence in the 2010s. Then came Geely in 2019, the ambitious Chinese carmaker taking up half of ownership in a 50:50 JV with Mercedes-Benz. It was decided from the start that the Germans will be in charge of design, with Geely providing the architecture and engineering.

The ‘new smart’ employs the ‘China-Europe dual-home’ strategy, while targeting regions with high potential. Southeast Asia is one of those regions, and Proton – via subsidiary Pro-Net – is the distributor for the smart brand in Malaysia and Thailand. smart Malaysia CEO Zhang Qiang says Malaysia is a ‘priority market’ for the smart brand. As such, we’re the first country in ASEAN to get the smart #1.

The smart #1 is the first fruit of the new smart era, and it’s making its Malaysian public debut at the paultan.org EVx 2023 event, which is now open to the public at Setia City Convention Centre. smart Malaysia had a media preview earlier this week at Proton’s design studio and test track, and the images you see here are from Tuesday. There’s an embargo in place for the #1 interior, so we can only show you the cabin next month.

The new smart is an EV-only brand, and the #1 sits on Geely’s Sustainable Electric Architecture (SEA), a modular EV platform that also underpins the likes of the Lotus Eletre (just across the hall at EVx), Zeekr 001 and Polestar EVs. The SEA2 version of the base is shared with the Zeekr X and the recently-revealed Volvo EX30. Solid bones fit for premium makes.

As mentioned, smart design is handled by Mercedes-Benz, and the #1 is Stuttgart’s template for the new brand, designed to appeal to customers in both of smart’s home markets. Of course, it’s an SUV, seeing how universally popular the bodystyle is, but the #1 doesn’t look like a typical SUV, but more like a large hatchback to these eyes. That alone makes it rather unique, like the how the Hyundai Ioniq 5 doesn’t follow size/styling norms.

2023 smart #1 EV makes Malaysian debut at EVx – 66 kWh, 440 km range, 22 kW AC, Q4 launch, we drive it!

The #1 looks a fair bit larger in the metal than I expected, and a look at the spec sheet reveals why it looks more substantial than a typical B-segment SUV.

That illusion is likely to be from the smart’s width and long wheelbase – at 1,822 mm, the #1 is as wide as a MINI Countryman, despite being 27 mm shorter than MINI’s SUV. The stout look also comes from the EV’s very long wheelbase of 2,750 mm (80 mm longer than Countryman), and large wheels (19’s) at each corner. Literally, because there’s virtually no overhang at either end. This square base allows the #1 to be tall (1,636 mm, 77 mm taller than C’man) without looking awkward.

The #1 has a ‘grilleless’ face and organic form that’s rather typical of EVs (they always remind me of sea creatures) and a rear end featuring the must-have full-width horizontal LED bar. Looks a bit like a Mercedes EQ SUV, don’t you think? Not a bad thing, of course.

2023 smart #1 EV makes Malaysian debut at EVx – 66 kWh, 440 km range, 22 kW AC, Q4 launch, we drive it!

Speaking of LEDs, the front lights are also connected by a light bar, while the grille is illuminated. There’s a welcome light show when the car is switched on, and the grille lights can be made to ‘dance to the beat’ of the music being played. The smart logos on the rear pillars also light up in the dark.

Interesting design details to look out for are the flush door handles, which open up frameless door windows. The floating roof effect is now very common, but smart’s rendition is ‘quite 3D’ – a separate and distinct layer sits on top of the base like a helmet – see the rear pillars. This ‘layer’ would be even more obvious with a non-black roof. Speaking of roofs, there’s a huge glass roof that smart calls ‘panoramic halo roof’. The smart key is like a hockey puck with proximity auto lock/unlock.

The #1 Premium you see here is powered by a single rear motor with 272 PS (200 kW) and 343 Nm of torque going to the rear wheels. That’s good for a 0-100 km/h sprint time of 6.7 seconds. Top speed is capped at 180 km/h. The high-performance #1 Brabus adds on a front motor to make it AWD, 428 PS (315 kW), 543 Nm and 3.9 seconds in the benchmark sprint – the Bottrop-tuned EV isn’t here at EVx, but it’s in smart Malaysia’s plans, so stay tuned.

The #1’s battery is a 66-kWh lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC) unit providing 440 km of WLTP-rated range (Brabus 400 km). The maximum charge rate is 150 kW DC, which means that if paired to a compatible fast charger, the #1’s battery can go from 10-80% state of charge (SoC) in 30 minutes. Now, there’s always plenty of focus on DC fast charging, but an EV’s primary source of juice should be AC, and the #1 stands out in the field with 22 kW AC when most rivals max out at 11 kW.

Having an onboard 22 kW AC charger makes a big difference – smart Malaysia says that going from 10-80% SoC takes just three hours. This means that you can have a long lunch break or rest time at home and when you’re done, the EV is replenished, all without paying DC rates. It gives an owner added flexibility.

How rare is this? We checked, and only the ’55 quattro’ variants of the Audi Q8 e-tron/e-tron GT and the Porsche Taycan support 22 kW AC charging in Malaysia. Most EVs on sale, including the BMW i7, Mercedes EQS and Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric are on 11 kW. More affordable EVs like the BYD Atto 3 and Ora Good Cat come with AC chargers capable of handling around 7 kW or less. It’s quite a highlight then, the #1’s 22 kW AC onboard charger.

This Premium variant is loaded with kit and is likely to be the best seller of the range, which will have a base model and the dual-motor Brabus at the top. Everything one would expect from a range-topping premium exec is here, and perhaps more.

On the outside, you’ll find Matrix LED adaptive headlamps, front/rear sequential signals, illumination on the front grille/door handles/side logo, courtesy lights on the side mirror base, 19-inch ‘Rotor’ alloys with 235/45 tyres, a panoramic ‘halo’ roof, roof rails, auto dimming and dipping (when reversing) heated side mirrors and a powered tailgate (kick to open).

We can’t show you live pics of the interior yet, but the T-shaped cockpit with a very high centre console topped by a 12.8-inch standalone touchscreen in landscape. To its right is a slim 9.2-inch instrument cluster supplemented by a 10-inch colour head-up display (HUD), which shows all the essentials, including navigation. There’s also Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Qi wireless charging, and wait for it – a 13-speaker 640W sound system by Beats.

By the way, although the #1 may be a CBU import, smart Malaysia is collaborating with others to develop local telematics services to support the vehicle control, navigation and the smart customer app. We’re told that this localisation will include locations of the all the chargers under the top charging network operators in Malaysia, which sounds like very good help.

On the comfort side of things, you’ll find leather, ventilated and powered front seats with memory, courtesy driver’s seat (moves back automatically for easier exit/entry), front passenger seat adjustment via touchscreen (for the driver), dual-zone auto air con with rear vents, N95 air con filter and a cooled centre armrest storage (piped in from AC). Of course there’s ambient lighting – you can choose from 64 colours and different top and bottom combos, Mercedes-style. There’s a full ADAS driver assist suite too, of course.

Last but not least – if an EV is to work well as a daily car – is space and practicality. The width and high roof of the #1 is apparent upon entry, and space is generous at the back, as is seat comfort. The rear bench has 130 mm of 60:40 sliding adjustment if you want to extend the boot length; capacity varies between 323 to 411 litres, or 986 litres with the rear seats folded flat (there’s also a ski hatch). Under the hood is a small 15L frunk, which might be useful for pungent food, but only small packets.

2023 smart #1 EV makes Malaysian debut at EVx – 66 kWh, 440 km range, 22 kW AC, Q4 launch, we drive it!

The media preview included a sampling session at Proton’s internal test track, where we tested the Premium and Brabus variants on the banked oval and performed some figure 8 exercises. Starting with the Brabus’ explosive acceleration (I saw 180 on the dash) and hilarious fake ICE noise meant that the subsequent stint in the Premium was a calm affair, but there aren’t many EVs that we’d call slow.

There wasn’t much to take away from the short drive, but we got to test the #1 at high speed, and the tall hatch has good stability and feels ‘solid’ on the move, with the steering having good weight. This sounds basic, but if confirmed on regular roads, the #1 would already be dynamically ahead of a few EVs on the market. The first impressions bode well and we’re looking forward to a proper drive.

So far, we’ve been ignoring the elephant in the room and his name is Mr. Price. Of course, there’s a new EV price yardstick in town, and it made every other player look poorer value overnight, but Tesla is a special case and unique business model. So, what do you think of the smart #1’s package and looks, and in your opinion, what would be a good price for the well-specced Premium and the dual-motor Brabus?

GALLERY: 2023 smart #1 Premium at EVx 2023

GALLERY: 2023 smart #1 Premium in Malaysia

GALLERY: 2023 smart #1 official images

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Danny Tan

Danny Tan loves driving as much as he loves a certain herbal meat soup, and sweet engine music as much as drum beats. He has been in the auto industry since 2006, previously filling the pages of two motoring magazines before joining this website. Enjoys detailing the experience more than the technical details.

 

Comments

  • Macam mana ? on Jul 22, 2023 at 10:08 am

    With the Model Y priced under 200k here, created an interesting market for the up coming EV contenters, Smart, EX 30, Mini E, etc. How much can they ask for ??

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 4
    • Ex PN voter on Jul 22, 2023 at 7:58 pm

      Expected price 87k smart Premium and
      Brabus version 97K only… Terbaik Madani !!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 16
      • Alfonso Romeo bin Kelembai on Jul 24, 2023 at 2:07 pm

        The one in camo looks nicer than the naked one.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1
    • Angry Voters on Jul 24, 2023 at 10:39 am

      Still waiting this useless gomen promises for cheaper cars. We want quality cars at cheaper prices not kosong deathtraps like Axia E.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 31
      • Hello PN fanboy, PN government have done so many worst things by not helping others and also making poor and middle and also for rich by making them suffering but only helping for mercedes and don’t care other brands. PN also against royalty. PN also didn’t do more developments. Overall PN didn’t do anything more. Which is worst than PHBN. Even previous governments also done better than PN

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 6
        • Bringbackmanual on Oct 02, 2023 at 10:28 pm

          Agree with him , remember rafizai with his formula to turunkan harga kereta. Now all talk no action gov.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1
  • Betul ke on Jul 22, 2023 at 10:15 am

    Are you sure about Apple Carplay and Android Auto? None of the models overseas support them

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 5
    • Anonymous on Jul 22, 2023 at 1:28 pm

      Smart UK’s media page does say the car supports Android Auto and Apple Car Play. The announcement that smart #1 won’t have support for either was made last year, so maybe they had a change of heart.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3
  • Renault Zoe on Jul 22, 2023 at 10:38 am

    HELLO Renault Zoe 2023 in Malaysia has 22kW AC. In fact Renault Zoe 2014 in Malaysia has 43kW AC.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3
  • rosdi on Jul 22, 2023 at 11:29 am

    Harga must be below 120k lah…, else I buy Tesla…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 6
  • seancorr on Jul 22, 2023 at 12:41 pm

    Alamak they participated in the road show but cannot show the interior?? Come on man…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 4
  • the only thing malaysians care about is the price.

    who cares about how they colaborate with local players?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 7
    • ROTI CANAI on Jul 22, 2023 at 11:02 pm

      in fact the less they collaborate the better

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 4
      • Kanasai on Jul 23, 2023 at 5:23 pm

        u who dont support local development should go live in china or us or india no need to be in malaysia, just a useless parasite

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 11
    • Raja Kamarul on Jul 23, 2023 at 12:06 am

      For the uninitiated, any local collaboration qualifies manufacturers for special tax holidays and the like. Its called Industral Linkage Programme. You should care because it helps lower the price of the car

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 8
      • ROTI CANAI on Jul 26, 2023 at 9:40 pm

        i dont care because all it does is makes the car more expensive and of lower quality

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2
  • Winner Ong on Jul 22, 2023 at 6:31 pm

    Hello fans of me Winner here must say losers are growing more pupil but smart pupil like me few only. Haha still waiting for car to charging finish ah your battery not good ah, haha I only can laughing at you today also I laughing at one loser on his face charging his car but he quiet. I also tell him make sure not parking beside my car because I don’t like loser. So if you see my car no 68 go far far away park ok my no plat also more money than your rubbish battery car. Thank u don’t be personal ok

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 17
  • faizul habibi on Jul 27, 2023 at 9:21 am

    why must all EVs have the very long horizontal tail lights? cannot have other kind of design?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0
  • MalaysiaBoleh on Sep 23, 2023 at 7:21 pm

    Went to test drive smart#1 today. Everything OK but the head up display angle is weird. I adjusted the setting even the seat. I still can’t see it. My height 184cm. Sth wrong with their angle. And also the price. I think I will go for tesla or upcoming mini Cooper countryman EV. Rm250k is way too expensive compare to China price tag.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0
 

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