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pros and cons of different automatic cars for European driving

pros and cons of different automatic cars for European driving

Feb 21st, 2014, 06:33 PM
  #1  
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pros and cons of different automatic cars for European driving

We will be renting a car in Portugal this summer - we are limited to automatics , and the choices seem to be Volkswagon Golf, Renault Megane, Peugot 308, or Volvo s60 after which it gets out of our price range. We've never driven any of these. I gather roads can be hilly, drivers a bit wild, and streets narrow. If anyone has experience with any of these makes/models that would be most appreciated. Thanks (this is through AutoEurope - if anyone recommends other companies that would be of interest as well.)
lauramsgarden is offline  
Feb 21st, 2014, 06:37 PM
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I used to own a Golf and it was a great little car. Can park it anywhere. Great for small roads. Handles well.
november_moon is offline  
Feb 21st, 2014, 06:55 PM
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It is VERY possible you will get something other than what you book. All the listings will say something like >>Renault Megane or similar<<.

I'd not get the smallest category, but the smallest that will comfortably hold you and your luggage.
janisj is offline  
Feb 21st, 2014, 06:56 PM
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Volvo S60 is a pretty big car. I drive an S40 and didn't like the big feel of S60.
DebitNM is offline  
Feb 21st, 2014, 06:58 PM
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Hez
 
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How many are you?
Hez is offline  
Feb 21st, 2014, 07:52 PM
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The Volvo S60 is a great car. Hertz in the US rented and might still rent them. I was always happy with the quality and the way the car drove.
yarrl is offline  
Feb 21st, 2014, 08:00 PM
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The S60 IS a gret car but to drive in Europe where the OP seems to be concerned about driving, ie hilly, narrow, winding roads, I would absolutely suggest something smaller.
DebitNM is offline  
Feb 21st, 2014, 09:32 PM
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I had an automatic Peugeot in France last fall and it was great over all kinds of terrain - tiny medieval streets to good power on large hilly highways (while automatic, it shifted like a manual). Agree: smaller is better to give you greater flexibility for what you may encounter…and that you could get something other than what you reserve based on availability. Picking up earlier in the day may give you better odds of controlling your choice. I was assigned a Focus when I first reserved, but when I later added on GPS before I left home – Enterprise assigned me the Peugeot. I found the best deal through Expedia - with the focus on automatic, I was more limited to having to pick up and drop off at the same place to get a decent rate.
venturegirl is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2014, 12:35 AM
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Modern small European cars usually have electronically-controlled automatic syncromesh gearboxes rather than the traditional torque-converter and epicyclic gearbox arrangement. There are different designs, and many have five-or six- speeds, or even more. It is generally considered that a modern automatic gives better fuel consumption than a manual gearbox, which is why they have become more popular in recent years, despite the higher cost. They help manufacturers achieve EU fuel consumption and emission standards.

Although some designs are considered better and smoother than others, that is hardly important in the short term. As to the size car you should choose, the general rule is that smaller cars are easier to park and larger cars are more comfortable. All European cars are suitable for driving on European roads, and you will see many large cars and other vehicles on narrow hilly roads, which are themselves a minority.
chartley is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2014, 03:13 AM
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>>>Volkswagon Golf, Renault Megane, Peugot 308, or Volvo s60 <<<

These are just examples for the category. You might get a different model, e.g. a Skoda.

All these models belong to that what we call "compact cars" - the second smallest class of cars. If you are not too tall, you will like these cars.

However, the bigger (or: the more expensive) the easier to drive on hilly roads. ALL European cars are made to be driven in Europe, and the bigger cars have bigger engines (so its easier to drive hilly roads), better suspension, better assistance systems, and the turning radius of a large Mercedes is smaller than that of a compact car.
traveller1959 is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2014, 06:00 AM
  #11  
 
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As others say, watch out for "or similar" disclaimers in the literature.

The Volvo will probably be too big for towns but if you are in an accident you will be glad you were in a Volvo. Given Portugal road accident rates this could be an important part of your thinking.

The Golf is very much the car others are compared with and if price was no object then I'd chose it.

I drive the Megane Cabriolet and while the basic model is a little ugly it keeps going though with restricted rear visibility. The Peugeot will be great if diesel, I think their petrol engines are to be avoided if you want reliability
bilboburgler is online now  
Feb 22nd, 2014, 06:48 AM
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All are fine. I would say that one that confortably holds you and your luggage is of more importance. None will hold 4 people and 4 large suitcases for example.
dulciusexasperis is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2014, 07:21 AM
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I am 6'3" and had no problem driving a Golf, even with two adult passengers in the rear.

But that was for touring. It would not remotely handle luggage for more than two. We managed two 24" and two 21" and our coats.
Ackislander is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2014, 07:41 AM
  #14  
Hez
 
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The Volvo S60 must be a different car in Europe than it is in the US if it is classed as a compact, and the same as a VW golf.

Also, we had a car (a Fiat I think) in Italy last year that just barely made it up the hills of Tuscany (and we were 3 normal weight women with minimal luggage). I would never rent a car that small again in Europe.
Hez is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2014, 10:49 AM
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You can;t compare the same car in europe and the US. One year - when there wer 4 of us we rented a Mercedes C since my brother was thinking of driving one. No tonly was it not large enough for luggage for 4 people (NOT a lot of luggage) but one day my SIL and I (alone, no luggage) took it for a day trips and I had to stand up on the gas to get to highway speeds in time to meld.

So - I think it must have had a much smaller engine than the same car in the US.

Without knowing how many people, how large and how much luggage - making a specific reco is difficult. Bit do look carefully at what it shows for luggage - it may show 4 people but room for just 2 smallish bags and one carry-on.
nytraveler is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2014, 06:56 PM
  #16  
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Just two of us, but probably with two large suitcases. We are leaning towards the Peugot - any recommendations re whether to pick up at the airport or in town (our hotel says they can reserve it for us...is that realistic ) _ we would be leaving from and returning to Lisbon.
lauramsgarden is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2014, 07:46 PM
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Laura, you cannot guarantee a specific car, as several people have told you. You rent a car in a specific class, not a specific car. Forget the hotel offer to rent for you - that will no doubt be a rip-off. Rent from AutoEurope and CALL THEM and ask your questions, don't just use the website. TALK to them!

Keep your luggage to a minimum. No one needs anything more than a 22" rollaboard for up to 6 weeks in Europe, seriously. Do you want to pay hundreds more for a rental car just because you are packing huge suitcases?
StCirq is online now  
Feb 23rd, 2014, 08:45 PM
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Definitely pack lighter if at all possible. Also, a smaller suitcase and a duffle (or similar) each will be easier to fit in a small trunk than 2 large suitcases.
november_moon is offline  
Feb 24th, 2014, 07:38 AM
  #19  
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got it - rent the class, not the car, go with Auto europe and pack smaller (my suitcase is actually a duffel so we should be ok) - anyt thoughts on airport vs in town pick up - we will be in town for 4 days first, but it seems as though the airport has more car options
lauramsgarden is offline  
Feb 24th, 2014, 07:44 AM
  #20  
 
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The prices of pick up may be different at the airport or in town. The times of opening may be more restricted in either (this is mainland Europe so the customer does not always come first), you don't want a car in a city, it becomes a source of stress and panic.

bilboburgler is online now  

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