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Independent, Expert EV Reviews & Advice Since 2006

SMART #3 REVIEW

The smart #3 is a coupe version of the smart #1 SUV; it looks sportier than the #1, and with a 0-62 mph acceleration time of 3.7 seconds in the case of the BRABUS model, it’s fast, and huge fun to drive.

  • smart #3 Brabus
  • smart #3 Brabus
  • smart #3 Brabus
  • smart #3 Brabus
  • smart #3 Brabus
  • smart #3 Brabus
  • smart #3 Brabus
  • smart #3 Brabus
  • smart #3 Brabus
  • smart #3 Brabus
  • smart #3 Brabus
  • smart #3 Brabus
  • smart #3 Brabus
  • smart #3 Brabus
  • smart #3 Brabus charging
Green Car Guide Rating: 10/10

Key stats

  • Model/Engine size:    smart #3 BRABUS
  • Fuel:    Electric
  • Electric driving range (WLTP): 258 miles
  • Maximum rapid charging rate:    150 kW

Summary

  • Fast (0-62 mph in 3.7 seconds)
  • Fun (sharp steering)
  • Grippy (all-wheel drive)
  • Engaging (virtual engine noise)

BACKGROUND

We’ve already reviewed the smart #1 BRABUS, which we were impressed with; the smart #3 BRABUS is the coupe version of the #1 ‘SUV’ – it looks sportier with its lower rear roofline, but on paper, the smart #3 BRABUS isn’t that different from the #1 – so how does that translate to the driving experience?

smart is no longer majority-owned by Mercedes-Benz; it’s now a joint venture between Mercedes and Chinese company Geely, and the #1 sits on Geely’s EV-specific SEA (Sustainable Experience Architecture) platform.

smart #3 Brabus

smart #3 Brabus

DESIGN & ENGINEERING

The smart #3 is a five-seater with ‘fastback’ rear styling compared to the #1 ‘SUV’, and it looks better for it – although it loses some boot space, at 370 litres compared to the 421 litres of the #1 (or 1,160 litres with the rear seats folded). There’s a compartment under the boot floor which can be used to store the charging cable and there’s also a ‘front trunk’ or frunk, which is relatively small at 15 litres in size. If you want to open the boot, you need to press the secret button in the middle of the ’a’ on the smart badge.

The #3 BRABUS has a 66 kWh NCM battery (62 kWh usable capacity) and all-wheel drive thanks to two electric motors delivering a total power output of 428 hp.

All smart #3 models have a 1,600 kg braked towing capacity.

smart #3 Brabus

smart #3 Brabus

SMART #3 BRABUS DRIVING EXPERIENCE

The smart #3 BRABUS has four driving modes: Eco, Comfort, Sport and BRABUS, which can be selected via a physical button (one of only a few) under the touchscreen. If you choose BRABUS, and floor the accelerator, you’ll get instant push-in-the-back acceleration from standstill, and 62 mph is reached in a very rapid 3.7 seconds (compared to 3.9 seconds for the #1 BRABUS model).

So the #3 BRABUS is very quick, and the acceleration sensation is enhanced by its virtual engine sound. Unlike many other EVs which have a virtual engine sound, the noise in the #3 BRABUS is accurately linked to the pressure exerted on the accelerator. This results in a much more engaging driving experience for people who like some sort of feedback to driving inputs. Using the touchscreen you can choose between four sound options: smart Original, Classical, Interstellar and Explore. Our preference is smart Original, which is based on the noise of a sporty petrol car. You can also switch the sound off.

So the smart #3 BRABUS offers rapid acceleration with an accompanying sporty petrol car noise. But what’s it like through the corners? The answer is lots of fun: the steering is direct, responsive and well-weighted (although you can change the steering weight). When you turn the steering wheel, the car responds instantly. These are MINI-like responses to steering inputs. You can even wrap your hands around the spokes on the steering wheel because they are so thin – a rarity with new cars. And there’s very little roll through the corners, so the #3 feels agile and fun – despite it weighing 1,910 kg.

Although the #3 BRABUS is all-wheel drive, and grippy in most situations, grip levels can be overwhelmed by the 428 hp of power, which is likely to make it even more of an appealing EV to driving enthusiasts.

Ride quality is good on smooth roads, but the #3 BRABUS can get a bit crashy on rough roads – the large wheels and relatively low profile tyres won’t help.

smart #3 Brabus

smart #3 Brabus

The #3 has a Mercedes-like gear selector on the right-hand stalk on the steering column. Although the whole car feels like it’s been designed as a driver’s car, one omission is the lack of steering wheel-mounted paddles for adjusting the level of brake regeneration. This can be done via the touchscreen, but this isn’t as user-friendly, and you only get two choices for the level of regen.

To properly enjoy the #3, you’ll need to switch off the lane departure warning, which will otherwise corrupt the steering, and there will be lots of beeping if you go 1 mph over the speed limit; this feature can also be switched off via the touchscreen – which isn’t a straightforward process.

The touchscreen home screen is a bit overwhelming, with graphics including a ‘smart planet’ and an animated Cheetah ‘digital assistant’. There’s a ‘B’ button at the top right which gives you the home screen, as well as shortcut buttons to take you to nav, media, and all the main infotainment features. However there can be a lot of button-pressing to get to the sub-menus for many car controls, and there’s no ‘back’ button.

Climate controls sit at the bottom of the touchscreen – although, as is the case in too many cars, these disappear when Apple CarPlay is in use.

If you’re looking for the controls for the door mirrors, there aren’t any physical controls – adjustment has to be initiated via the touchscreen and then by using controls on the steering wheel. There’s also no obvious way for the passenger to control the infotainment volume, as the only volume control is on the right-hand side of the steering wheel.

The display screen in front of the driver, which sits quite low, also shares a similar graphical approach to the central screen; thankfully there’s a head-up display which provides more simple information.

The #3’s driving position could be improved by having the ability to adjust the angle of the seat base.

smart #3 Brabus

smart #3 Brabus

SMART #3 BRABUS ELECTRIC RANGE AND CHARGING

The smart #3 BRABUS has a WLTP combined electric driving range of 258 miles – which is 10 miles more than the #1 BRABUS. Our test car was typically displaying a projected range of 256 miles – ie. just two miles less than the official range – but the average real-world range after a week on test was 220 miles.

All smart #3 models have a maximum DC rapid charging rate of 150 kW, enabling a 10% to 80% charge in less than 30 minutes.

All #1 models also have a heat pump, apart from the entry-level Pro+.

How to charge an electric car

smart #3 Brabus

smart #3 Brabus charging

PRICE AND MODEL RANGE

Pricing starts at £32,950 for the smart #3 Pro, £36,950 for the Pro+, £39,950 for the Premium, £40,950 for the limited-run 25th Anniversary Edition, and £45,450 for the Brabus – which is a £2,000 premium over the #1 BRABUS.

Prices and specifications correct at time of review

smart #3 Brabus

smart #3 Brabus

Conclusion

The smart #3 BRABUS is fast and fun. The driving experience is made more engaging by the virtual engine sound, its steering is responsive, handling is agile, grip is good thanks to all-wheel drive, and ride quality is comfortable on most road surfaces. The main issue for keen drivers is the excess of beeps and boings relating to safety systems.

The 258-mile range is reasonably practical, and the maximum rapid charging rate of 150 kW should mean that stops to top up the battery should be quick. Although the #3 BRABUS has a heat pump, along with the Pro+ and Premium, the entry-level Pro trim doesn’t have this feature.

The smart #3 BRABUS is a quantum leap forward compared to the previous smart fortwo, and it has the edge over the #1 in terms of driving experience and looks; it’s awarded a Green Car Guide rating of 10 out of 10.

Car facts and figures SMART #3 REVIEW

  • Test electric driving range: 220 miles
  • Consumption (WLTP): 18.2 kWh/100 km
  • CO2 emissions (WLTP): 0 g/km
  • Vehicle tax rate (VED):    £0
  • Benefit in Kind (BIK) company car tax liability (2024/25): 2%
  • Price:    £45,450
  • Insurance group:   39
  • Power:    428 hp
  • Torque:    584 Nm
  • Max speed:    112 mph
  • 0-62 mph:    3.7 seconds
  • Weight:    1,910 kg
  • Towing capacity:   1,600 kg
Paul Clarke

Review by:
Paul Clarke, GreenCarGuide Editor