I like Smart cars. I know, I know—it’s unbelievably European of me to come over here talking about liking tiny cars and thinking they’re good. But you know what? They are. I live in a city and I don’t own a horse or a car I could fit one in, which makes the latest development in Smart’s journey kind of a massive letdown.
Smart announced in 2019 that it was over in North America. It’d been a fun couple of decades trying to sell the concept of tiny, eco-friendly cars but the experiment had ultimately failed and it was time to give up. Then, in January 2020, things looked like they were getting better (haha, how naive we were) when a deal with Geely was signed to give Smart a boost. The rest…has been pretty well explained by everything that happened in the past year and a half. It’s still not coming to America as of right now, but if there’s any chance of Smart returning stateside, this “compact SUV” would likely be the car to do it with.
We already knew the first car showcased from the Mercedes-Geely hookup was going to be an electric crossover-adjacent one. You know, similar to the tiny cars that Smart made, but bigger—like an SUV. Admittedly, it’s being billed as a “compact” family hauler but even the Fiat Panda Cross is 106 inches long, a good 33 inches longer than a ForTwo.
Smart tweeted a new photo of the car over the weekend and noted that the electric SUV is coming, at least in concept form, to the IAA Mobility show in Munich, which starts on Sept. 7. It’ll be part of the Mercedes-Benz display at the event and apparently, this new model is going to show off Smart’s upcoming design language for what the tiny cars of the future will look like.
What do we know? From the limited images we’ve seen, it’s clear that the car is longer than before. Sort of a given, but we don’t have much to go off yet. The cabin has a much longer roof, presumably to fit a second row, since it’d be hard to justify a two-seater as an SUV.
Is the idea of a probably underpowered, small SUV-a-like thing really scintillating enough to boost Smart? Who knows. From the outset, Smart has weirdly been pretty good at things like maneuverability, partly because the cars were tiny but also because one of their very early markets was Switzerland, where Smart car inventor Nicolas Hayek made his name making Swatch watches.
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