Advertisement
BBC TopGear
BBC TopGear
Advertisement feature
WELCOME TO HYUNDAI’S HAPPINESS MACHINE
View the latest news
Car Review

Smart #3 review

£32,895 - £45,395
510
Published: 14 May 2024
Advertisement
This is what Smart cars look like now: stylish, but not that smart

Good stuff

Interior is a bit different, plug 'n' play approach to driving

Bad stuff

The Brabus version is drastically overpowered, irritating tech, no clear purpose

Overview

What is it?

This is the new Smart #3, the second addition to Smart’s expansive new SUV line-up. It follows the death of the dinky little Fortwo, and while there are rumours of a replacement, this is what Smarts look like now. Large, electric products of a tie-up between Germany’s Daimler and China’s Geely. 

Naturally, that means some platform sharing has occurred. And in this case the hashtag 3 shares its undergubbins with the Zeekr X and the more recognisable Volvo EX30.

Advertisement - Page continues below

Looks nicer than the other one…

The other one being the Smart #1, of course, slightly taller and more upright. The #3 isn’t merely a coupefied version of the #1, although to all intents and purposes that’s what the company is offering. Usually they’d just wiffle about with the roofline, you’d lose some space in the back and that would be that. But the #3 is actually slightly larger than the #1 in every dimension except height. Still weighs broadly the same though: it's a 1.8-tonne whopper.

But yes, the #3 does look better, doesn’t it? We can think of several examples (cough VW ID.5, Skoda Enyaq Coupe, Audi Q4 Sportback, Mercedes GLE Coupe) where the coupe version looks significantly worse than the SUV. People seem to love them, though, or else they wouldn’t be getting built.

Does it drive well? 

The #3 drives well enough, but we should add the caveat that we’ve only driven the new coupe SUV in Brabus trim, which is going to significantly colour the verdict until we’ve had a go in something more sensible. 

Sure, the Brabus is fast in that rollercoaster way that electric cars so often are: you just grimly hold on and wait for it to be over. The #3 Brabus slams off the line with its 422bhp (154bhp at the front, 268bhp from the rear) and 400lb ft of torque, reaching 62mph from zero in a scarcely credible 3.7 seconds. It’s the sort of performance that’s of no earthly use, unless you’re trying to get sensitive information out of a reluctant informant.

Advertisement - Page continues below

What’s that moving on the infotainment screen?

That would be a cheetah, your new pet if you buy yourself a Smart #3. It’s an upgrade from the fox in the #1, but it doesn’t really do anything except stare into the middle distance and occasionally walk around. Kids might enjoy it...

Take a good look at the infotainment screen, because you’ll be spending a lot of time here. The design is fun, but using it can be infuriating. Your drive settings reset every time you restart the car, and the organisation of the features is as far from intuitive as it gets. Don't worry though, it'll become muscle memory after some practice.

Satnav, aircon, trip info and even wing mirror adjustments are to be found in the 12.8in central touchscreen, otherwise you get a smattering of steering wheel buttons and some shortcut buttons underneath the touchscreen.

How much does it all cost? 

The #3 range starts at £32,950 for the entry-level single motor, rear-drive Pro model with 49kWh battery (for 202 miles of WLTP range). Then the mid-range Premium model - which gets a 66kWh battery for a hefty slug of 283 miles of range - comes in at £39,950. Like for like, the #3 costs around a grand extra over the #1.

The top-spec Brabus car costs £45,450, adding dual motor AWD into the mix but taking a hit on range (258 miles).

The Smart has at least got price in its favour: it's much cheaper than the £50k Volvo EC40 and new Peugeot e-3008, or the Skoda Enyaq Coupe. Less convenient for Smart is the presence of the Renault Scenic and electric Mini Countryman, both of which are close on price when compared to the big-batteried #3.

Our choice from the range

What's the verdict?

It’s a shame that Smart has abandoned its innovative edge in order to chase after sales

Clearly this review comes with the massive caveat that so far we’ve only driven what looks on paper to be the worst option. No one sensible is going to go for the Brabus version, and we think the sweet spot is likely to be lower down the pricelist. 

It’s a shame that Smart has abandoned its innovative edge in order to chase after sales in the samey small crossover arena, but no doubt a good chunk of buyers will be charmed by the #3’s tech focus and distinctive interior.

The Rivals

Subscribe to the Top Gear Newsletter

Get all the latest news, reviews and exclusives, direct to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, you agree to receive news, promotions and offers by email from Top Gear and BBC Studios. Your information will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

BBC TopGear

Try BBC Top Gear Magazine

subscribe