Could this concept be the future that we’ve always wanted from Smart?

In the 23 years that it’s been around, Smart has become a staple in urban cities, fulfilling its mission of being a purveyor of affordable compact cars. But like most car brands, Smart has a sporty and aggressive alter ego, though one that we rarely get to see. It just so happened that one such example was presented at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show by noted tuner Brabus. It’s called the Brabus Ultimate E Concept, and it’s an absolute humdinger.

Okay, so I know what you’re thinking. “It’s a Smart ForTwo. ‘Humdinger’ isn’t exactly the kind of word I’d use to describe it.” You’d be right about that, but you’d also be wrong in assuming that the Ultimate E Concept is nothing more than a dressed up ForTwo wearing a Brabus kit. It’s way more than what it appears to be, and we have Brabus and its partner-in-crime in this project, Kreisel Electric, to thank for that. This concept – it really shouldn’t be a concept – represents the pinnacle of what the Smart ForTwo can become if it adopts new technologies and embraces its inner id in the process. Think a 200-horsepower Smart ForTwo is still the stuff of dreams and fantasies? Think again. Smart has come a long way since it started in 1994. I can’t tell for certain if the Brabus Ultimate E Concept is the future, but if it is, then that future just became mighty exciting.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

Exterior

2017 Brabus Ultimate E Concept High Resolution Exterior
- image 730767

Truth be told, there’s very little that’s outwardly remarkable about the Brabus Ultimate E Concept. There’s no mention of “Smart” or “ForTwo” in its name, but you’d still be hard-pressed to recognize this car beyond its obvious appearance. It’s still a Smart ForTwo.

Beyond these tweaks, it’s still a Smart ForTwo, so yes, it doesn’t look like a concept at all

That said, give credit to Brabus for at least adding a little bit of personality to it. For instance, that bright yellow body finish is pretty impossible to miss, and while we’re at it, the flared wheel arches from the tuner’s own Widestar body kit is just as eye-catching, as are the wider fenders, new front spoiler, rocker panels, rear diffuser, and the new set of 18-inch lightweight forged wheels. Beyond these tweaks, it’s still a Smart ForTwo, so yes, it doesn’t look like a concept at all, at least in the same way as the Smart Vision EQ ForTwo Concept. As far as futuristic styling goes, the Vision EQ ForTwo Concept is in a league of its own.

But don’t sleep on the Brabus Ultimate E Concept just yet. It may not boast features like LED panel headlights or bubble-looking doors, but it does have something that the Vision EQ ForTwo Concept doesn’t have: the promise of something exciting hiding underneath all that skin.

2017 Smart Vision EQ Fortwo Concept Exterior High Resolution Wallpaper quality
- image 728946

Note: photo of the Smart Vision EQ ForTwo Concept.

Interior

2017 Brabus Ultimate E Concept High Resolution Interior
- image 730760

Since the ForTwo isn’t exactly a car that has an abundance of interior space, the work Brabus did in this section is somewhat limited, at least relative to what it can actually do on, say, bigger Mercedes models. That’s not to imply that the tuner didn’t put in the work because it did. The surface area is all dressed up in blue Brabus Mastik leather. Yellow accents on the dashboard and steering wheel, as well as yellow stitching, create a nice two-color look that enhances the interior’s personality. Throw in cursory add-ons like the stainless steel pedals and an aluminum shift knob and brake lever and you have a relatively well-appointed interior that’s not far removed from what Brabus is capable of if you give it a blank surface to work with.

Drivetrain

2017 Brabus Ultimate E Concept High Resolution Exterior
- image 730766

I wasn’t kidding when I hinted at something “exciting” hiding underneath the Brabus Ultimate E Concept. That’s because this is the section that really drives home the status of this model as a concept. Whereas traditional ForTwo models carry three-cylinder engines, the Brabus Ultimate E Concept gets rid of that element, replacing it instead with a transverse electric motor that’s located just behind the rear axle. The motor itself gets its power from a 22-kWh lithium-ion battery pack.

The configuration is not all that different from the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive’s own electric motor. What’s different between the two is the involvement of Kreisel Electric, the creator of advanced electric motor technology. Brabus collaborated with the Austrian firm to develop an electric motor that would not only be capable of reaching 100 miles as a maximum range but would also be able to produce an incredible 201 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque.

Brabus collaborated with the Austrian firm to develop an electric motor that would not only be capable of reaching 100 miles as a maximum range but would also be able to produce an incredible 201 horsepower

The output is impressive on so many fronts, not the least of which is that it doubles the 80-horsepower and 118-pound-feet of torque output of the ForTwo Electric Drive. Take the comparisons a little bit further and the Ultimate E Concept’s power figures are actually more than what a sports car like the Toyota GT86 produces on its own.

It’s true that 201 ponies and 258 pound-feet of twist isn’t mind-blowing on other cars, but on a Smart ForTwo that weighs just 1,085 kilos (2,392 pounds)? That’s incredible enough that with these kinds of numbers, the Brabus Ultimate E Concept is actually capable of accelerating from 0 to 62 mph in just under five seconds. For comparison’s sake, the ForTwo Electric Drive can hit the same speed in over 10 seconds. That’s more than double the time it takes for the Ultimate E Concept to do the same. Likewise, the top speed for the Ultimate E Concept goes up to around 112 mph. Do the math relative to the ForTwo Electric Drive’s own 81-mph top speed and you’re looking at a top speed difference of over 40 mph between the two models.

If none of these make any sense, check out the table below to see how the two models compare.

2017 Brabus Ultimate E Concept High Resolution Exterior
- image 730762
2017 Brabus Ultimate E Concept High Resolution Exterior
- image 730763
Model Horsepower Torque 0 to 60 MPH (62 MPH) Top Speed
Smart ForTwo Electric Drive 80 horsepower 118 pound-feet over 10 seconds 81 mph
Brabus Ultimate E Concept 201 horsepower 258 pound-feet under five seconds 112 mph

I’m actually tempted to say something snarky about the gulf-sized difference in power and performance abilities between the two models, but the numbers really do tell the entire story on how impressive the Brabus Ultimate E Concept really is.

Conclusion

2017 Brabus Ultimate E Concept High Resolution Exterior
- image 730759

Before I give my final thoughts on the Brabus Ultimate E Concept, did any of you know that Smart actually has a pretty interesting history of its own, one that traces its roots all the way back to Swatch, the Swiss watch company? Pretty interesting, right?

History lesson aside, the Brabus Ultimate E Concept is the perfect showcase for all the parties involved in it. For Smart, the concept is a great way to show everyone that there’s more to the ForTwo than meets the eye. A heck of a lot more. For Kreisel Electric, the concept helps it achieve some form of legitimacy in its quest to become a major player in the electric car sphere of the industry. And as far as Brabus is concerned, if it can unlock the performance side from a mundane city car, there’s really very little the tuner can’t do. The fact that the tuner itself admitted that the concept is still undergoing road tests speaks to its commitment to the cause. Even better, Brabus also said that if the concept gets a good reaction in Frankfurt – it already has – there’s a chance that we could see the Ultimate E Concept get a limited production run at some point in the future.

Consider this then a glowing endorsement to the concept: build it, Brabus.

References

Smart ForTwo

2015 Smart Fortwo High Resolution Exterior
- image 560210

Read our full review on the Smart ForTwo.

Smart ForTwo Electric Drive

2017 Smart ForTwo Electric Drive High Resolution Exterior
- image 689196

Read our full review on the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive.

Smart Vision EQ Fortwo Concept

2017 Smart Vision EQ Fortwo Concept Exterior High Resolution
- image 728969

Read our full review on the Smart Vision EQ Fortwo Concept.

What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: