From Hell - Rental Car - veryoldbear

One of the great joys of travelling round on business is that one can try out all sorts of buggies ... you fly into an airport and usually get offerred something completely different to what you booked in the first place. Some are good, some are bad .... etc etc

Last week I pitched up in Oslo and was given the choice of a VW or a BMW Series 1. What fun, I think, let's try the little Beemer. What a mistake ....

It took half an hour trying to work out how to adjust the seat, and get the engine started. Even the car hire bloke couldn't work it out .... finally got it sorted ... stick the key fob (no key) in the key fob hole, depress the clutch and press the start button. Obvious it may be, but not just when you are a weary soul just off a flight. Then the unspeakable stop / start thing whereby the engine stops every time you halt ... oh yes, great for saving the polar bears, but just try driving out of the average airport with the thing stalling every time you stop. It took me three days to get the hang of it, including getting immobilised on the motorway, in a town centre, and at a toll booth. Why why why ?

You couldn't see anything out of the back window because of a ruddy great headrest in the middle of the back seat, and the top gear (of six) was so highly geared it wouldn't pull the skin off a rice pudding. The key fob given to me by AVIS had a big tag saying "Petrol" and a notice on the dash said "Diesel".

All in all a most unsatisfactory experience. It may be a reasonable car once you get to know it, but it's completely useless as a rental buggy.

Rant over Mr BMW, you won't be getting my custom again ...

From Hell - Rental Car - outlier

Entirely agreed. For business rental you want things absolutely standard. Not to spend 3 hours at the end of a 6 our trip trying to get the sat nav into English.

The worst thing is the way the car market has fractured into supposedly differentiated and niche products. Ridiculous Picassos, Plus this, Cmax that. Presumably rental cos get them because manufacturers cannot shift them.

From Hell - Rental Car - Bobbin Threadbare

Having been on a journey in a 1-series, it seems to me that BMW went a bit mental and thought they had to make something Golf or Focus sized, and charge BMW prices for quite low-spec cars with uncomfortable seats. You're paying for the badge.

I had several rentals for work; a new Fiesta, a new-ish Focus and the new Mitsubishi Lancer. The Focus was not as good as my old Mk I version, and the Lancer was awfully tinny (it rained). The Fiesta wasn't bad; I wan't expecting much from it and it was low powered but surprisingly nice inside, and comfy.

Ah well Mr Bear, you know for next time!!

Edited by Bobbin Threadbare on 20/10/2011 at 21:35

From Hell - Rental Car - bazza

I borrowed a 118d, our pool car. I would agree, a vastly overrated car and for me at least the most uncomfortable seats I've ever come across. I was glad to get back into my old Octavia. Conversly, I've just hired an i30 Hyundai 1.4 and was really quite sad to give it back, what a great all round car that's fun to drive as well. As agile as a Focus and couldn't really fault it.

From Hell - Rental Car - mrnikko

I agree I tried a BMW 1 series when my company car needed changing a couple of years back and I really could not belive that BMW would ask such an exorbatant price for such a low rent car, but as the saying goe's a fool and his money are easily parted

From Hell - Rental Car - Avant

As VOB realises, he'd have been far better off if he'd gone for the VW - although as a VAG owner I'd probably have done the same and tried the BMW out of interest.

A point strongly in favour of VAG cars is that they are immediately user-friendly and the controls work as most people would expect them to. Most Japanese makers have got this message too, although too many Japanese hire cars tend to have the smallest possible engine and are thus dull to drive (although not as dull to drive as the Vauxhalls that some hirers dish out even if you ask for something else).

It'll be interesting to see how successful Kia and Hyundai will be in making inroads into the hire car market.

Edited by Avant on 21/10/2011 at 00:08

From Hell - Rental Car - TeeCee

A point strongly in favour of VAG cars is that they are immediately user-friendly and the controls work as most people would expect them to.

1) Passat.

2) Electric handbrake

3) Previous discussions on this topic.

New balls please and change ends for round 2.

From Hell - Rental Car - Buster Cambelt

Know the feeling.... about ten years ago it seemed that everywhere I went I was given the lowest spec Golf Diesel possible by every hire company on earth - here we go another week of being shaken to pieces and earache!

Some decent experiences though, out in Slovenia in 2004 I hired a (then) new Kia Rio and was so surprised at how good it was I mentioned it to my father - who then bought one on launch day in the UK.

And one day I got the uber-upgrade to an S-class.

Apart from that it seems to be mundane grot everywhere but at least most are simple to drive these days.

From Hell - Rental Car - akr

My mate has a 1 series company car (bog standard 118d which he hates) and I dread it when it's his turn to drive to the football. Being picked up last I'm in the back and it's so small (I'm 6 ft 1) I have to get out backwards.

It feels cheap and nasty too. Utter crap for a £20k car.

From Hell - Rental Car - gordonbennet

On the other hand choose a Diesel auto model and you have a compact car of high build quality, it will steer and handle perfectly, it won't torque steer, it will drive well for those who appreciate such things, and it will sip fuel.

The auto gearbox is a pleasure, ultra smooth take up with infinite control, it will always be in the right gear at junctions and gearchanges of hydraulic action will allow constant smooth acceleration with none of the jerkiness, delays and annoying behaviour found in other semi type auto's.

The manual box is slick and smooth, no silly boy racer wheelspins when you take off smartly.

The interior isn't everyone's cup of tea, it's typically German which means dark and gloomy with acres of black plastic, sound familiar?...however when the car has covered 100k miles that interior will still be quite respectable, the switches will still work and won't have the appearence of a well used cheap mobile phone.

It's not a cloned eurobox, it's a well made RWD that will do everything you want it to efficiently and economically.

As for starting sequences, way back when the first Accents and Lantra's came out the rental companies had the starter inhibitor switch on the clutch pedal disconnected whilst in service, so these things are far from new, the fault is with the rental company they should have shown the OP how to start the car, indeed they should have things like stop start in default ''off'' setting, and instruct the renter how to switch it on if they wish.

Change rental company to one offering customer service.

I've driven hundreds of new BMW's, without fail you push the ignition fob in, press the start button and that car will start first time every time without fail, the same cannot be said for other makes and their push in/out jobbies, some of which are frustrating beyond belief.

Edited by gordonbennet on 22/10/2011 at 23:12

From Hell - Rental Car - veryoldbear

Back in Oslo again. This time it's a Ford Focus: it may be a bit duller, but at least I could get in it, adjust the seat, start the engine, and drive off ...

From Hell - Rental Car - Avant

Tell us what you think when you've driven it a bit, VOB: may would say that a Focus is just as good to drive as a 1-series.

From Hell - Rental Car - daveyjp

I once had an A4 courtesy car that couldn't be started unless you locked the steering wheel lock once you removed the key. That took a call to the hire company to sort out.

From Hell - Rental Car - TeeCee

Last one I had that really confused me was a Merc "A" class from Gothenburg.

A couple of minutes working out how to start it was par for the course (clutch + footbrake + key). The problem was thick fog. It had foglights, I could see them. It had a warning light to the lower left of the dash to indicate that they were on.

It also had one huge, fat stalk that appeared to operate in four or five dimensions and no other switches. I never did figure out how to switch the things on, despite pulling into a Service Station and spending ten minutes trying to figure it out, using a torch to scry the runes on the megastalk.

It drank fuel like it grew on trees too.

From Hell - Rental Car - gordonbennet

MB's usually very simple switching, on most models all lights are on the one dash switch, turn clockwise for side then further for headlights, pull the switch one click for front fogs, two clicks for rear fogs, turn the switch left one or two clicks for right or left side only parking lights, simplicity itself...well it is on older Benz's, the sort i have..;)

Once you've got used to the MB single column stalk you'll wish every car was the same, correct side for indicator stalk on RHD car too, on the right of the steering column.

As you now know it does wipers, washers, indicators and dipswich, brilliant in it's simplicity.

Edited by gordonbennet on 25/10/2011 at 14:35

From Hell - Rental Car - TeeCee

Aha, pull the light switch! That'll be the one thing I didn't try then. Shame they hadn't bothered to put a fog lamp rune on it somewhere. I guess they thought that having the warning lamp and its rune adjacent to the switch should be enough of a clue......

One other weird thing was the Swedish lamp setup. Being such, the headlamps were on all the time. Took me quite a while to work out that the use of main beams required the switch to be set to "headlamps on". Off, Auto or Side (all of which produced headlamps) actually served no apparent purpose other than to disable the main beam function on the stalk.

From Hell - Rental Car - Buster Cambelt

Tallinn today, Golf petrol (think it's a 1.2)

From Hell - Rental Car - John F

Tallinn today, Golf petrol (think it's a 1.2)

I had a Golf petrol hire car once - it was so rough i thought it was a diesel! Best small hire petrol I've driven was a tiny Lancia - can't remember it's name but it was really smooth and sweet to drive. I don't think they're available in the UK.

Just had a six gear diesel 120cdi Renault Megane - amazing economy; nearly 55mpg brim-to-brim, possibly more as I really brimmed it and the last bod probably didn't! I love the way you can roll them along at low revs....

From Hell - Rental Car - Buster Cambelt

This TFSI is really surprising for a tiddler, really smooth and really quiet. No way you could mistake it for a diesel. Seems economical too.


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