Currently reading: smart #3: why it's a What Car? 5-star electric car
Find out all the reasons why our sister titles loves this sleek new electric family SUV

Hundreds of new cars get launched every single year, and that means identifying a particular model that offers all the space, technology, style and performance you need – and all at a reasonable price – is not the work of a moment. Well, that’s where the discerning road test team from our sister title, What Car?, can lend a hand.

Using slightly different, more consumer-based testing procedures than Autocar, the fastidious team at What Car? put each and every new car through a series of rigorous tests and checklists to ensure it’s more than a match for its rivals, and where it could even be best-in-class. So, the fact that What Car? has given the all-new smart #3 a full five-star rating is a glowing endorsement indeed.

The sibling of the smart #1 – also rated five stars by What Car? – the smart #3 takes 25 years of smart’s premium pioneering design heritage from Mercedes-Benz and adds the advanced electric engineering of Chinese tech giant Geely to create an all-electric coupé family SUV that perfectly blends sleek style, heaps of practical space and engaging driving character into one plush and value-adding family package.

As What Car? said in its five-star review: “The smart #3’s slightly sportier approach is designed to attract a younger audience than the smart #1. It’s a brilliant electric car, with zippy performance, a smart interior and relatively swift charging capabilities.”

And that’s not all. Choosing and ordering your perfect smart #3 is a doddle thanks to a super simple lineup comprising the feature-crammed Pro, Pro+, Premium, 25th Anniversary and pulse-raising BRABUS trims, as well as transparent and haggle-free online pricing that ensures you always get exceptional value. Alternatively, you can visit one of the many retailers in smart’s UK-wide network to find out more and check out the smart #3 yourself.

But before you do that, let’s take a more in-depth look at the five big reasons why What Car? think the smart #3 is a five-star coupé electric SUV.

Test drive the smart #3 today


Read our review

Car review

Geely/Mercedes brand targets more traditional tastes with its second new-era model

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#1 Standout style and a plush interior

The smart brand has always been an innovator when it comes to striking car design, but the all-new smart #3 takes it to an entirely new level. Sporting an ultra-sleek coupé silhouette with concealed door handles and frameless doors for added panache, it adds eye-catching 19in alloy wheels and full-width LED light bars front and rear. As a result, the smart #3 brings style to the family SUV class by the bucketload.

Every version of the smart #3 also comes with powerful CyperSpark LED headlights with auto high-beam assist to help carve a path through the night, while smart #3 Premium and BRABUS editions add CyberSparks LED+ Matrix headlights with adaptive high-beam assist for even smarter after-dark driving.

Speaking of the BRABUS trim, not only does it add enhanced all-wheel drive and heaps more performance (more on that shortly), but it also brings a dose of added design flair in the form of an aggressive body kit, unique 20in Synchro alloy wheels, red brake callipers, red accents on the exterior and interior, a grippy Alcantara steering wheel and sports-style microfibre suede seats.

The smart #3’s style continues inside. Every version of the smart #3 comes with a floating halo roof design, complete with panoramic sunroof – flooding the cabin with extra light. Equally, you can pick from a wide choice of vibrant paint colours and two-tone roof combinations to style your smart #3 your way.

The What Car? team were particularly impressed with the smart #3’s interior quality, driving position and advanced technology. “To help give it a sportier feel over the smart #1, the seats in the smart #3 are 22mm closer to the ground. Whether you prefer that or not will be down to personal preference. But, otherwise, the driving position is tough to fault, with plenty of steering and electric seat adjustment to help you get comfortable.

“The smart #3’s front seats come in a sportier design and support you in all the right places, too. Forward and over-the-shoulder visibility are good, and all versions come with front and rear parking sensors, and a 360-degree bird's eye view camera.

“The smart #3’s dashboard is almost the same as the smart #1's, with the biggest difference being three circular centre air vents rather than twin oval ones. That means you still get a bright 9.2in digital instrument panel, while Premium and BRABUS versions have a 10in head-up display that projects your speed and other information onto the windscreen in your line of sight.

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“There’s also a big, 12.8in touchscreen infotainment system sitting in the middle of the dashboard that is responsive to inputs. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring are standard.

“The smart #3's interior quality is impressive. There’s plenty of style, but it's backed up with plenty of soft-touch materials and plastic that feels upmarket and of good quality. The switches are nicely damped, while plenty of ambient lighting in the air vents and around the dashboard brighten up the interior at night.”

#2 Spritely driving character

The experts at What Car? were deeply impressed with the performance and driving character of the smart #1 when it launched in 2022. Now, the all-new smart #3 offers ever better engagement behind the wheel thanks to a ride height that’s 20mm lower and an even sleeker design that helps it cut through the air more efficiently.

All versions of the smart #3 – bar the pulse-raising BRABUS – offer 268bhp and 343Nm of instant torque from a rear-mounted electric motor. The result is 0-62mph in just 5.8sec, comfortably beating many similarly priced all-electric rivals. “Thanks to improved aerodynamics, the smart #3’s zippy official 0-62mph time of 5.8 seconds is better than what many more expensive alternatives can manage, including the Skoda Enyaq Coupé and the entry-level Tesla Model Y RWD,” stated What Car?.

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The smart #3 BRABUS turns the dial up to 11 by adding another, front-mounted electric motor, generated a total power output of 422bhp and 543Nm of torque. This means the 0-62mph sprint is taken care of in just 3.7 seconds. 

“The performance-focused BRABUS version of the smart #3 remains hilariously quick,” What Car? said. “The 0-62mph time of 3.7 seconds makes it 0.2 seconds quicker than the smart #1 BRABUS and matches the Mercedes-AMG EQE 53 – and that costs nearly triple the price.”

But the smart #3 isn’t all about straight line speed. The What Car? team were particularly impressed with the smart #3’s ride, handling prowess and overall refinement. “Despite the 20mm lower ground clearance, the smart #3 rides smoothly over bumps most of the time, with only a slight choppiness at low speeds,” What Car? commented.

“The smart #1 feels more alert and sportier than rivals at low speeds, and the smart #3 feels even more composed, thanks to a reduction in body lean when cornering. The well-judged steering has a natural response, too, and a reassuring amount of weighting in the heaviest of its three driving modes.“While the smart #1 BRABUS sticks to standard suspension (and 19in wheels), the smart #3 gets stiffer suspension and 20in wheels to deal with its extra power. Our test car came with grippier Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres, which can be added as an option. As a result, the smart #3 BRABUS keeps body movements tightly controlled. You don’t pitch back and forth when pressing on, and there’s very little body lean in corners.”

Finally, an often unsung, benefit of potent electric power on the smart #3: a towing capacity of up to 1600kg. A figure which, as the What Car? team highlighted in its comprehensive review, is the same as the Kia EV6, which was the What Car? Tow Car of the Year for 2023.

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#3 Impressive range and fast charging

If you think for one moment that all that performance means a compromise in the smart #3’s range, you’d be greatly mistaken. Thanks to its slippery aerodynamic design, the entry-level smart #3 Pro offers up to 202 miles of range on a single charge – that’s enough to get from London to Brighton and back and still have nearly 100 miles left in the tank.

Step up to the smart #3 Pro+ trim with the bigger 66kWh battery pack and you’ll get 270 miles of range, while both Premium and 25th Anniversary Edition trims offer a whopping 283 miles on one charge. Finally, the red-hot smart #3 BRABUS will cover 258 miles between charging stops.

The smart #3 impresses when it comes to on-the-go charging, too. The smart #3 Pro trim can charge up to a maximum speed of 130kW, while Pro+ models and above offer 150kW charging capability. But, despite the minor difference, all versions of the smart #3 will get from 10% to 80% charge in just 30 minutes via a public rapid charger. As the What Car? team highlighted in their robust review, you'd be waiting about 45 minutes for the same charge in a BYD Atto 3Honda e:Ny1 or Kia Niro EV.

The smart #3 Premium trim gives you even more options for faster charging by adding a state-of-the-art silicon carbide invertor and heat pump, as well as 22kW charging capability that can charge your smart #3 from 10% to 80% in as little as three hours at a fast public or office charger. That’s perfect for fitting around work, a day out shopping, grabbing lunch, visiting a museum or a gallery, or catching a film.

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#4 Good practicality

Despite its athletic appearance, the smart #3 is – first and foremost – a fantastically adaptable family car. You get five spacious seats as standard, and the bootoffers 370 litres of versatile storage space with all the seats up, and up to 1160 litres with the 60/40 split rear seats folded down.

You also get a nifty 15-litre ‘frunk’ and underfloor storage space for cables and other day-to-day clobber. All versions of the smart #3 also come with an electrically powered tailgate as standard to help make loading and unloading a total breeze.

But it’s passenger space where the smart #3 really shows its true colours. “Space in the smart #3 is good all round, and up front there’s plenty of leg room and head clearance for a 6ft tall occupant,” What Car? said. “Storage space is generous, too, with two cupholders, large door bins, a storage cubby under the armrest, a generous space below the centre console and a place to wirelessly charge your phone.

“Meanwhile, a six-footer sitting in the back won’t be brushing their hair against the panoramic glass roof. Leg room remains generous, too. While the lowered seating position leaves you sitting with your legs more outstretched than in the smart #1, the extra 35mm between the front and rear wheels in the smart #3 makes up for it.

“The smart #3’s almost flat floor (common to most electric SUVs) makes life relatively comfy for someone sitting in the middle seat. The rear seat back splits 60/40, so it's not as versatile as the 40/20/40 split you get in a Peugeot E-3008 but there is at least a ski hatch in the middle so you can poke long items between two passengers.”

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#5 Great safety tech and value for money

Last – but certainly not least – What Car? had high praise for the smart #3’s wealth of safety tech, which helps you navigate the hazards of the urban jungle or busy motorways with ease. Equally, In Euro NCAP’s comprehensive safety tests, the smart #3 scored a maximum five-star rating, with a 90% for adult occupant protection, 86% for child occupant protection, 84% for pedestrian protection, and 85% for safety assist technology.

So, it’s little wonder that the smart #3 ranks as the third safest car on sale in the UK today. “The smart #3 is exceptionally good at protecting those inside and outside of the car in the event of an accident,” What Car? said. “The AEB system reacts well to the presence of vulnerable road users, particularly cyclists and motorcyclists, and it’s good at detecting other vehicles in the various test scenarios. There’s also a driver monitoring system that can spot various forms of inattention as well as fatigue.”

Indeed, every version of the smart #3 comes with adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, blind spot detection, traffic sign recognition, lane change and traffic jam assist, parking sensors, and a 360deg camera as standard.

So, those are all the reasons why What Car? loves the smart #3. Maybe it’s time to find what you love, too.

Test drive the smart #3 today

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