What is it like on the inside?
Lots to talk about in here, even if at first glance it looks a little bit bare. Almost everything is controlled in the central infotainment screen, which is 12.8-inches in size no matter what trim you go for. It apparently uses chips and processors from the world of gaming (we’re told it’s Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8155 chipset), with the home screen being full of information and confusing graphics.
It’s a responsive screen though and there’s shortcuts to the climate controls along the bottom. Right now Apple CarPlay is integrated, but Android Auto is yet to come. Mods should come easily, as the Smart supports over the air updates.
Lots of rather crucial functions are buried in sub menus of the system too – for instance trying to turn off the overly loud fake engine noise will take you deep into the murky depths, while adjusting your mirrors requires a tap on the screen and then multiple presses of the steering-wheel mounted buttons.
IS THERE A DRIVER DISPLAY?
All #1s get a slim 9.2-inch digital instrument cluster with your key numbers, while Premium and above get an additional 10-inch head-up display. Oh, and we need to talk about the AI fox. It’s supposed to be a kind of virtual travel companion, but at the moment it essentially seems to be able to set the sat nav for you and open a window with a voice command.
Perhaps Smart should have started with a smarter animal like an owl? That’s how this coding thing works, isn’t it? Anyway, most of the time the fox just sits in the corner of your infotainment screen doing keepie-uppies with a beach ball. Strange.
LET’S GET AWAY FROM FOOTIE FOXES. IS IT PRACTICAL?
Sort of. If you’re going to be carrying passengers, it’s a good choice. Head and legroom in the rear seats is impressive (as is the wide opening to get in) and you can slide your feet under the front seats even when they’re in their lowest setting.
Each side of the 60:40 split back bench slides, which obviously cuts legroom, but allows greater boot space. However, there are issues. Maximum volume is a reasonable-sounding 411 litres, but the useable space is poor. The floor is high and the parcel shelf low, which means a big box of cereal is probably only just going to fit standing up. And if you do pull the seats forward, there’s a ditch between them and that raised rear floor.
Yes there’s underfloor storage but that’s where the cables will have to live, as there’s only a tiny 15-litre frunk.
WHAT ABOUT EQUIPMENT? ANYTHING WORTH MENTIONING?
Premium and Brabus trims get a Beats audio system that’s rather high quality, and most of the materials used are pleasing to the touch – particularly the swathes of Alcantara in the Brabus version. Worth noting that Smart has used a mix of real and man-made leather though: no vegan alternatives here, which does seem odd for a supposedly future-proofed EV.
We did like the high centre console, which conceals two cupholders, a big storage bin and a usefully angled induction charging pad. There’s little to complain about in terms of driving position and seat comfort, either.
IS THERE ANYTHING WORTH COMPLAINING ABOUT?
Mainly the driver alert system. You can turn it off in the menu, but it always defaults back to on. There’s a camera on the steering wheel boss which looks at your face, and if it thinks you’re not paying attention, bongs and comes up with an alert that reads “Distractive. Drive carefully”. Smart says it’s sorting out the grammar.
We just wish you could turn down the sensitivity. Looking right for a few seconds while coming out of a junction? You’ll be told off. The greatest irony is that Smart buries so much of the functionality in that centre screen, and yet if you look at it for more than a couple of seconds, it tells you to stop. Once it’s done that a few times, you’ll want to wring its neck. “You put all the controls in the screen”, you’ll want to howl, “and now you’re telling me not to use it?!”