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Virtual Adviser's™ opinion
Two significantly similar cars, no doubt about that. Still, each one has something different to offer. Having both cars powered by petrol engines and utilizing the 3-door hatchback body style within the same 'Micro car' segment, the only major difference here really is their wheel drive configuration (front for the Renault and rear in the case of the Smart). The first one has a Renault-engineered powertrain under the hood, a 4-cylinder, 8-valves 60hp unit, while the other one gets its power and torque from a 3-cylinder, 6-valves 61hp engine designed by Smart.Safety
A starting point here would be to take a look at the results from European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) tests which were performed on both of the cars, with the same number of safety stars gained in the process. Moving further on, let's take a closer look at some additional safety-related facts. Both vehicles belong to the micro car segment, which is generally a misfortune safety-wise, but that fact doesn't break the tie between the two cars. Furthermore, taking kerb weight as an important factor into account, the French car offers a considerable difference of 10% more metal.Reliability
I don't like generalizing things when it comes to reliability, although it does seem that both brands display similar results in faults and breakdowns, all the models observed together. These are the results of an independent reasearch, while our visitors describe reliability of Renault with an average rating of 4.1, and models under the Smart badge with 3.9 out of 5. Unfortunatelly, I don't have enough insight that would allow me to comment in more details on the specific models level. We should definitely mention that owners of cars with the same powertrain as the French car rank it on average as 4.1, while the one under the competitor's bonnet gets 4.0 out of 5.Performance & Fuel economy
Renault is undoubtly more agile, reaching 100km/h in 1.8 seconds less than its competitor. In addition to that it accelerates all the way to 151 kilometers per hour, 16km/h more than the other car. When it comes to fuel economy the winner has to be the German car, averaging around 4.7 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers (60 mpg), in combined cycle. We can't ignore that 23% difference compared to the French car.
Renault appears just a bit more reliable, although the difference is truly marginal. The most important thing when deciding between any two vehicles should always be safety, both passive and active. In my opinion, everything taken into account, the French car offers significantly better overall protection, taking the lead here. It all continues in the same direction, with Renault being considerably quicker, thus putting more smile on driver's face. It does come at a cost though, and that's the fuel consumption... At the end, as much as I'd like to give you a winner here, it's simply a pure tie if you ask me. In any case that's my personal view, built upon all the data available to me. What should decide here though is the way you feel about the two vehicles, and I hope you'll find my guidelines useful in the process. In case you have two minutes to spare I invite you to define your needs, desires and budget and see which car would be chosen by the virtual adviser™, among thousands of similar, yet so different vehicles.