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The Biggest Smart Ever Is a Wannabe Off-Roader

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Gone are the days of diminutive Smart cars as the latest models keep getting bigger. The uninspiringly named #1 is 168.1 inches long while the #3 stretches at 174.8 inches. This new #5 is a concept that previews an even bigger model coming out later this year. The company doesn’t mention exact dimensions but goes as far as to call it a mid-size SUV. Yes, a mid-size Smart.

The boxy SUV looks like a futuristic take on the Mercedes GLB with off-road traits such as the lifted suspension and all-terrain tires. Smart also gave it chunky skid plates and even limb risers we’re used to seeing on Jeep Wranglers and Ford Broncos. There’s also the usual plastic body cladding around the wheel arches along with a chunky roof rack and an LED light bar. The concept’s adventurous theme is accentuated by a built-in winch and a folding rear step to access the roof.

It’s touted as “the most versatile Smart of all time” and comes with all-wheel drive thanks to a pair of electric motors. You can tell the Concept #5 is huge by its massive battery with a capacity of over 100 kWh. The jacked-up EV benefits from 800-volt technology for fast-charging by needing just 15 minutes to replenish the battery from 10 to 80 percent. Fully charged, it’ll cover more than 342 miles on a single charge, based on the WLTP cycle.

As for the interior, it embraces the all-screen setup with a triple display layout. It combines a smaller digital instrument cluster with a central infotainment and an extra screen just for the front passenger. There are a few touch-sensitive shortcut buttons between the driver’s display and the touchscreen but most of the functions are accessed through the two larger OLED panels.

Smart cars are certainly not what they used to be since Concept #5 has quite a few party tricks. It gets a zero-gravity passenger seat with massaging and ventilation functions, along with a footrest. There’s also a removable speaker in the center console, an AI-based virtual assistant, and ambient lighting in the back of all four headrests.

The mid-size SUV is attending the Auto China 2024 in Beijing where the show kicks off April 25. Smart will unveil the subsequent production model in the latter half of the year.

As a reminder, Smart hasn’t been a wholly-owned Mercedes subsidiary since 2019. It’s a 50:50 joint venture between the German luxury brand and Geely. The #1 and #3 we mentioned earlier are built in China. Ineos Automotive builds the Grenadier pickup truck and SUV at the former Smart plant in Hambach, France.

Smart isn’t the only company that has deviated from its traditional formula of making small cars since BMW’s Mini is also coming out with significantly larger vehicles. For example, the latest Countryman is 174.5 inches long, so about the same as the Smart #3. The two have an identical width, at 72.6 inches. The upcoming #5 will be even bigger.

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