Smart #1: Mercedes versus Renault Megane

Developed in collaboration with Chinese manufacturer Geely, the Smart #1 seriously threatens the 100% electric Renault Megane thanks to its high-tech equipment and superior performance.

Based on Chinese manufacturer Geely’s SEA platform, the Smart#1 was produced in close cooperation with Mercedes, which was responsible for its interior and exterior design.

Its platform, also shared with Volvo (in the upcoming small XC) and Lotus, can host one or two permanent magnet synchronous motors (drive or 4X4) mated to a 66 Gross kWh Lithium Manganese Cobalt (NMC) battery pack. or 62 net kWh. Longer (4.27 vs. 4.21 m), wider (1.78 vs. 1.82 m) and taller (1.50 vs. 1,) than the electric Renault Megane 64 m) Smart # 1 looks more like a small SUV with a raised ground clearance (18.2-15.4). cm).

Race Crocs

If the body’s plump, very original styling may be controversial, build quality is up to German standards, with serious body panels and thick seals. The sound of frameless doors closing also inspires confidence. The furniture on board is also very neat, with a foam roof, heart foam dashboard or even a knee rest along the center console. The driving position is impeccable, the onboard atmosphere is very bright and the LED lighting (with interchangeable colors) is even warmer.

Ali baba cave

The Premium version tested here epitomizes the middle class, but still delivers a substantial 272bhp for 343Nm of torque. This Smart is also very generous in terms of equipment, as it includes standard leather upholstery with electric adjustment, panoramic glass roof, adaptive Matrix LED headlights, electric tailgate, 19-inch wheels, head-up display, quality Hi-Fi. system (Beat Audio on 13 HP) as well as all active driving aids. We were especially won over by the multimedia package, which includes a large 12.8-inch touch screen with neat graphics and good response. There’s even a 3D car racing video game, admittedly slightly less advanced than the Tesla (it uses an AMD Ryzen processor, while the Smart gets a Qualcomm Snapdragon SA8155P), but better than the poor Tetris offered in the Mercedes EQS. Our pre-production test version did not integrate Apple Car Play, but this will be fixed in models coming to Europe in the summer of 2023. Improvements will also be made to the driving aids, particularly the alert warning for over-intrusive drivers, to better meet the demands of drivers on the old continent.

Lively and modular

In terms of equipment, the exemplary Smart#1 is equally distinguished by its modularity, thanks to its 13 cm sliding seat, which folds into two parts and allows for a perfectly flat floor. Also worth noting is the presence of an electric tailgate and a ski hatch as standard. Which partially compensates for the modest luggage volume, which is satisfied with 313 liters in the basic configuration, 411 liters with the front seats and 986 liters with the rear seats folded. There is also a fairly spacious double floor and, above all, a small 15-liter storage compartment under the front hood, which is very practical for placing the charging cable without lifting the trunk. Comfort in the back is good with generous legroom and plenty of storage. The generous width at the elbows and the absence of a central tunnel allow for the transport of three passengers, but the central backrest, which connects the armrest, lacks softness.

Soft regeneration, hard pedal

Thanks to the silent start system, the Smart #1 requires only a simple press of the right lever to initiate forward or reverse. If the car’s width can be awkward on small avenues, the turning circle remains decent (11.2m vs. 11m for the Megane) and excellent visibility is combined with multiple cameras offering a 360° view. screen. Automatic parking assist is also standard equipment. Equipped with three driving modes (Eco, Normal, Sport), the Smart #1 includes two levels of regenerative braking as well as an e-pedal mode that brings the car to a complete stop. However, a certain delay is felt when lifting the foot, and the deceleration remains quite soft, if not weak compared to other electric vehicles. The difference between modes is also almost imperceptible. However, the electronically controlled brake pedal (iBooster Bosch system) is very pleasant to dose and masks the transition between the engine brake and the hydraulic pressure of the pads. The steering, which is a little heavy in the maneuvering, is consistent and offers a pleasant feeling on winding roads or fast lanes.

Discreet but slightly covered

In addition to precise handling, Smart #1 stands out for its excellent sound insulation. Despite the large 19-inch tires (235/45 R19), rolling noise is well contained and aerodynamic whistles are heard only from 140 km/h.

The comfort of the suspensions is very correct, even if it deserves further improvement. Shock absorption is really quite solid, while body retention is unrestricted. As soon as the speed rises, the car rolls, and when the wattage is restored, the rear axle becomes very spry. Anti-skid ESP (only partially disengaged) intervenes quickly and well, but the lack of chassis restraint and the resulting weight of 1,800 kg (that is, 164 kg more than the Megane EV60 220 hp) are not the most conducive to dynamism. Therefore, the Smart#1 is more comfortable in the toll exit and in the “car” (160 km/h vs. 180 km/h) than the Mégane EV60 (0-100 km/h in 7.4 seconds vs. 6.7 seconds). but the detour seems less comfortable on the second road. In terms of passive safety, Smart #1, on the other hand, cannot be envied by its competition, as it ranks among the best students in the world. EuroNCap crash test With 5 stars.

A little greedy, but fast

Who says significant weight and height also says high consumption. According to WLTP standards, the Smart #1 can travel 440 km on a combined cycle. At the start of our test, the on-board computer showed 434 km with a full battery. After traveling 160km at 6° in Ile-de-France with a 73kg driver, we recorded an average of 18.6kW/100km, and for the remaining 206km the battery showed 47%, i.e. a range of 366. km. We rarely went above 110km/h and we mostly rode light-footed, speeding around in the fast lane except for a very short stretch of secondary road. A further 50km run at a gentler pace in Eco mode we recorded 17.5kW/100km. Slightly higher values ​​than the Renault Megane EV60 (Check out our Super Test) but reasonable in terms of performance.

On the charging side, the Smart #1 works very well thanks to its 22 kW on-board charger in alternating current (AC), which allows you to charge a tank from 10 to 80% full in 3 hours. Direct current (DC) takes 30 minutes thanks to a maximum charging speed of 150 kW at the fast terminal. During our test, we could see that the Smart charged slightly faster than the Megane next to us at the same terminal.

At a good price.

Available from €39,990, the base Smart#1 is €2,000 cheaper than the Renault Megane EV 60 Super Charge, while offering a better level of equipment (hands-free key, induction charger, panoramic roof, 19-inch wheels, electric tailgate). , 360 cameras, all driving aids, etc.). The Premium version tested here adds leather, heat pump, leather, head-up display, 22 kW charger, automatic parking or Audio Beat system. It therefore competes with the €48,500 Megane EV60 Iconic Optimum Charge. A higher price than the Smart # 1 in the top-of-the-line Brabus version (€47,790), which offers 428 hp and four-wheel drive for 0-100 km/h in 3.9 seconds. Suffice it to say that this Smart is the most competitive model in the compact electric segment. Only the MG4 offers a better price/equipment ratio among compacts, but with power levels, autonomy and a less polished finish. Note that this Smart #1 comes with a 3-year warranty (8 years for the battery). Let’s hope its steep prices don’t suffer from strong inflation between now and marketing in the spring of 2023.

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