They have made a decent fist of it. According to Daimler group design tsar Gorden Wagener it represents “a redefinition of the Smart brand in a very cool grown-up way".
Grown up? There are certainly elements here that back up Smart’s wish to go more premium. Witness the technical finishes, concealed door handles, panoramic glass roof, extensive LED lighting (including rhythmic sequencing) and the frameless doors. A gloss white body with anthracite elements sitting on 21-inch wheels help the premium cause, too.
All this is inside what is (by Smart’s innovative original standard) a conventional two-box shape, although one with (just) enough cues – the curvy roof and wraparound rear especially – to show you it is still a Smart car.
It’s very much a wheel-at-each-corner machine, with long wheelbase and short overhangs for what Smart says is masses of interior space for a car no longer than 4,290mm. There are no B-pillars and the back doors are rear-hinged for that welcoming concept-car openness, but whether this makes production or not is a moot point. The one thing Smart is saying on the interior is that the production version will be a five-seater, not with four seats like the concept.
Inside, it’s all very cool, light and white with blue LED lighting elements and plenty of premium detailing, including a floating centre console between the front seats and a large freestanding touchscreen dominating the dashboard. To help you navigate the menus is an AI avatar.
There will likely be plenty of menus because Smart says its first SUV will major on serious cloud-based connectivity and over-the-air updating, along with plenty of infotainment functions and innovative driver assistance systems. There will be assistants to help you park, make evasive steering actions and keep you on the straight and narrow on the motorway.
We suspect it will also have an electric motor and a lot of batteries under the floor, but Smart is keeping tech details and performance for another day. You can’t rush the start of a new era after all.