Review: smart #1 Brabus

Review: smart #1 Brabus

What Is This?

The #1, or ‘hashtag’ 1, from smart Automobile is the culmination of the effort by Geely and Mercedes-Benz to develop a brand of premium all-electric vehicles. Built upon Geely’s modular SEA (Sustainable Experience Architecture) EV platform and Mercedes’ design expertise, the smart #1 is available in Malaysia in 3 forms i.e. the #1 Pro, #1 Premium and the range-topping #1 Brabus.

They are physically the same on the outside, save for the differentiating bits such as the wheel design. The #1 has a 2,750 mm wheelbase and a body measuring 4,270 mm long, 1,822 mm wide and 1,636 mm tall; ground clearance is 182 mm. The exterior design and silhouette gives it an urban crossover look with strong hatchback vibes. The frameless door windows and flushed door handles also give the car a sleek and clean design.

On the outside, the #1 Brabus gets an illuminated grille, hands-free powered tailgate, and Cybersparks Matrix LED headlamps with adaptive high beam and a musical light show that is default to extra loud. There are no issues with this if you don’t activate the show. Also setting it apart from the other #1’s are the sporty red accents, a more prominent rear spoiler, Brabus aero kit and badge, 2-tone colour scheme, as well as a stiffer suspension set-up.

What Is Inside?

Immediately noticeable when you get in the #1 Brabus is the prominent T-shaped dashboard-centre console that features a 12.8″ infotainment touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity (which isn’t oleophobic). Although it takes a minimalist design approach with all the functions accessible through the controls on the steering wheel and on the infotainment unit, the dashboard does not look bare, probably due to the 9.2″ meter display and oblong air vents taking up quite a bit of real estate on the slim dashboard. Cover up the wireless charger compartment and cup holders and the cabin front is pretty much just steering wheel and large screen (the 10″ head-up display is visible only from the driver’s perspective), though still being aesthetically pleasing.

Other conveniences in the cabin include rear air vents, 2 rear USB ports (including a Type C), 13-speaker Beats sound system, ambient lighting, illuminated door sills, centre storage with chill function, and rear arm rest that opens access to the boot. Boot space is an acceptable 323 litres that can expand to 411 litres by sliding the rear seat bench forward. The bench is also split 60:40 like the backrest. Folding the rear seats down (nearly flat) will further increase cargo space to 986 litres if necessary. There is also a 15-litre front trunk to store items such as a charging cable and tyre inflator kit.

The Brabus seats use an ultrasuede upholstery and accented with red. The front seats offer good support (especially with the side bolsters) and are largely comfortable enough for long drives to not cause a strain. The rear seats are quite comfortable as well, with more than adequate headroom and legroom. The only exception to me would be that the rear bench lacks good thigh support for tall passengers. I am 178 cm and find myself having to spread my legs a little more, as a rear passenger, for a more relaxed posture. Put 3 of me at the rear and it would be a snug fit for a road trip. But if you seldom carry rear passengers, this isn’t even an issue.

What Makes It Go?

Unlike the other variants, the #1 Brabus is an all-wheel-drive EV thanks to the dual motor setup. Due to this, it also offers considerably more power i.e. 315 kW (422 hp) and 543 Nm, and enables it to do the century sprint in 3.9 seconds (official time). Top speed however, is capped at 180 km/h like the other variants. smart #1_Brabus

Providing energy to spin the motors is a 66 kWh NMC (lithium nickel manganese cobalt) battery. This battery takes 22 kW AC charging and takes 3 hours to get from 10% to 80% state-of-charge (SoC). By 150 kW DC charging, that time is reduced to 29 minutes. The trade-off for enjoying all that power however would be the driving range. For the #1 Brabus, the battery can only take it as far as 400 km.

This is however mitigated by a nearly seamless charging experience through the infotainment interface and/or “Hello smart” mobile app. The ability to search for nearby available public charging stations, or along your planned route, as well as the convenience of paying via a single app regardless of the charging point operator increases the practicality of #1 and quells range anxiety. It is by no means perfect (covering only about 70% of public charging facilities in the country), but it is a start and can only get better with time.

How Does It Feel?

There is no arguing that the #1 Brabus has a lot of ‘go’. Even if you pad the official 3.9 seconds 0-100 km/h timing by 30% to account for non-optimal conditions, it is still 5 seconds and still impressive. On the whole, the #1 is an agile machine. The #1 Brabus has a stiffer suspension setting and thus translates to a slightly harsher ride especially in the rear. It is however, still on the comfort side of sporty. Letting out some air or perhaps replacing the stock Dunlop SP Sport Maxx tyres altogether might make things better.

What makes things better in the cabin for the passengers is the expansive panoramic glass roof to make it feel roomier. Though I have to add that keeping the roof shade closed doesn’t spoil the interior ambience at all. Noise insulation is commendable, though with an EV it is all always the other sounds you tend to pick up e.g. road, wind etc., especially when you’re not distracted by the artificial Brabus ‘engine’ #1 Brabus_Panoramic Glass Roof

What is a little noisy in my opinion is the user interface of the infotainment system. Having no physical buttons (unless you count the haptic ones at the bottom of the screen, and those on the steering wheel), an owner will need to familiarise him/herself with the menus and submenus to access all the functions so there is less fumbling while driving. Certain functions can also be controlled via voice command which makes things easier, such as those related to climate control, music, ambient lighting and windows e.g. “open the window slightly”. Likewise, you can use voice command to tell it to “open map” or “find a charger”. Another noise you could experience is the Fatigue Alarm on the meter display especially if your eyes are like mine which frequently dart around the various mirrors; the camera mounted on the steering will detect a lack of attention to the road. It will also likely happen in daytime if you wear sunglasses.

What Is There To Like?

I don’t deny enjoying my time with the #1 Brabus. Activating Brabus mode on the B-roads can make the drive exciting though it also made me start mentally planning my charging schedule. Ease of use is another factor, with smart Pilot Assist and Automatic Parking Assist helping out in the urban environment. As an EV, it impresses with its blend of performance, premium feel, and nearly seamless integration of services. And that is enough to make it a compelling choice for urban dwellers and electric mobility enthusiasts.

Launched at a price of RM249,000, the smart #1 Brabus presents an attractive, premium package with performance to boot. But you may find yourself asking if you can forego the extras in the Brabus, and settle with the Premium variant. I feel either one will still be a smart choice.


Leave a Reply