REVIEW: Smart #1 EV

For the past 12 or 13 years foxes have become a regular sight in many urban areas of Ireland. Last week I got to see a Fox avatar every day of the week, on the dashboard of the fully electric Smart #1 that I was testing. Mercedes, who are handing the distribution of Smart cars in Ireland, call it Hashtag One.

Foxes are known to be smart and on the 12.8-inch infotainment screen of the Smart #1 ‘Reynard’ can be seen relaxing if you slow down or park, while one day I saw him/her play with a beach ball on the screen.

When the Smart introduced the ‘Fortwo’ car at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1997 it could only accommodate two people, but now Geely and Mercedes have made the car a proper five-seater.

The idea for a small two-person car was started in 1982 by Nicolas Hayek the founder of Swatch watches. He had an idea for a new car using the same type of manufacturing strategies used to popularise Swatch watches. I think it’s fair to say that the brand didn’t really take off in Ireland.

Hayek, a Swiss business of Lebanese descent, died in 2010 but his legacy lives on and now Mercedes, in partnership with Chinese company Geely, have brought us the new range of Smart fully electric cars that can accommodate five adults in comfort.

At first glance the Hashtag One has a boxy look to it. Like other electric cars there is no grille, but I don’t think the front is a bland as some other electric cars I have driven in recent weeks. My test car was white with a black roof, topped off with 19-inch Rotor Alloys which, dare I say it, looked really smart.

The handles on the door are very discreet and pop out when you approach the car after unlocking it. The boot is about average for a car of this size.

Inside the décor is very bright; the seats are black but there are some lovely white/silver touches on the dash and doors. To add to the brightness my test car had a full size sun-roof, but that would probably not be available in the entry level Pro model.

There is no Hashtag Two, but Hashtag Three (Smart #3) was launched in Carton House, Maynooth last week by Mercedes and the fox on the infotainment screen has been replaced by a cheetah, who might now be as smart as a fox, but is definitely much faster.

Sales of electric cars have dropped in 2024, but this one is quirky and you can get close to 430km on a full charge with that 62kWh battery. And it charges fairly quickly also. When it was a two-seater the ‘Fortwo’ was a funky car, but now in its new guise the Hashtag One has to compete in what is becoming a very competitive electric market.

There are four versions available: Pro, Pro plus, Premium and Brabus. Prices start at €37,479, while the Premium version I drove will cost you €48,332. As usual with electric cars, road tax is €120.

I enjoyed my time in the Smart #1 and got a lot of questions from neighbours, who liked the look of the Hashtag One.

When I was a young lad in Kerry the sheep farmers didn’t like foxes, who could snatch a young lamb while you had your back turned. Reynard is not snatching any young lambs in urban settings and city people seem to ignore foxes, but you cannot ignore the attractive Smart #1.