Smart #1 Brabus Drag Races MG4 XPOWER, Someone Gets Schooled

smart #1 Brabus Drag Races MG4 XPOWER 10 photos
Photo: What Car? / edited
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Once fully controlled by what used to be Daimler, the smart car brand is now a joint venture between Chinese automaker Geely and Mercedes-Benz. Developed under the codename HX11, the smart #1 is the joint venture's first-ever production model.
Revealed with much pomp in April 2022, the obnoxiously named #1 is manufactured exclusively in China. Speaking of which, Merc handled the design while Geely engineered the damn thing. Considered a subcompact rather than a compact vehicle, this crossover-like thingy comes with either a rear-mounted electric motor or two drive units.

Care to guess how the most performance-oriented specification is dubbed? That would be the Brabus, which – obviously enough – is more Geely than Brabus in terms of engineering. The white-painted model in the featured clip is pictured next to another electric utility vehicle from the Middle Kingdom, namely the similarly obnoxiously named MG4 XPOWER in uppercase letters across the board.

What's are car manufacturers even thinking when brainstorming nameplates? Uppercase letters exclusively is the written equivalent of shouting, whereas the number sign in #1 could be considered a distasteful way of getting more impressions on social media. In any case, What Car? has pitted these zero-emission vehicles against one another on a closed runway to see which is quicker in the quarter mile.

Over the course of three dig races, the MG proved more consistent in regard to ET: 12.3 seconds in two races compared to 12.4 seconds for the smart, although the Brabus did manage to post a 12.3 in the final race. Given that smart charges 43,450 pounds sterling in the United Kingdom for the #1 Brabus, getting beat 2:1 by a £6,995 more affordable crossover is a bit shameful. Even more so considering the Brabus badging and visual garnish of the smart #1.

smart #1 Brabus Drag Races MG4 XPOWER
Photo: What Car? on YouTube
Wholly owned by Chinese state-owned automaker SAIC Motor, the British marque founded by Cecil Kimber in the 1920s currently advertises the MG4 XPOWER with a 0-62 time of 3.8 seconds. The smart brand? Make that 3.9 seconds to 62 miles per hour (100 kilometers per hour in the metric system).

Turning our attention back to the quarter-mile showdown, What Car? further clocked 9.8 seconds in both vehicles from zero to 100 miles per hour (a little over 160 kilometers per hour). The British motoring publication also measured the 0-30 time, a relevant performance metric in the EV realm because electric vehicles are better suited to the urban jungle than the highway or racetrack. 30 mph is 48 kph, and the MG4 XPOWER needs only 1.6 clicks to reach that speed. The smart? According to What Car?, 1.7 seconds.

In hindsight, it was right for smart to pull out of the United States market. Neither Mercedes-Benz nor Geely intend to bring this marque back to North America. Instead, smart is limited to the European continent and Chinese market for the time being.

MG isn't eyeing the United States of America either, although that may change in the future. With the US government intending to end purchases of new combustion-engined vehicles by 2035, and due to an increasing number of states following in the government's footsteps on President Biden's Executive Order 14057, SAIC and other Chinese automakers may be tempted to give the US a try.

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About the author: Mircea Panait
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After a 1:43 scale model of a Ferrari 250 GTO sparked Mircea's interest for cars when he was a kid, an early internship at Top Gear sealed his career path. He's most interested in muscle cars and American trucks, but he takes a passing interest in quirky kei cars as well.
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