Rental Car: Automatic Diesel or Not

Feb 16th, 2008, 07:35 PM
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Rental Car: Automatic Diesel or Not

I am renting a car for use in France.

I know that there is quite a bit of difference in the cost between diesel fuel and unleaded.

There is a $60 or so difference in the price of the rental.

In your opinion, are diesel cars more efficient? Do they get better gas mileage?

We will only be traveling around Nice and the Cote d' Azur. I would say about 500km.


Sher is offline  
Feb 16th, 2008, 07:52 PM
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We rented a car in Provence last September. I think it was diesel but I don't remember if I had a choice. All I remember is that gas was so expensive...I actually asked the woman at the station if she had forgotten to end the transaction for the customer before me. I couldn't believe it cost 20 euros to fill up what seemed like just a rter of a tank.
Cherriescd is offline  
Feb 16th, 2008, 08:07 PM
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I am prepared for the cost of fuel.

I just wondered if it is worth paying the extra for the diesel given the small amount of miles we will travel.

Sher is offline  
Feb 16th, 2008, 08:28 PM
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We always do km in the thousands so a diesel is definitely a plus. Diesels are a little "noisier" but other than than we prefer them, and I think most rentals are diesel.

If you look up the average km per litre of the specific car you'd be able to figure out which will save you money. Just do the math.
klondike is offline  
Feb 16th, 2008, 08:50 PM
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If we are comparing similar cars, a diesel powered auto will get better mileage so if there is a $60 difference in the total coast of your auto rental you will save some of that money on fuel. How much you will save depends on the vehicle and how far and how you drive. I would not spend much time thinking about this as the amount of money you are talking about possibly saving is small.
If the cost differential is $60/day I would go with the gasoline auto.
mjs is offline  
Feb 16th, 2008, 11:40 PM
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If you're really only going to drive 300 miles, you're not going to get through much more than 10-15 gallons (real gallons, that is: not those tiny things they measure by in the US) even on the most inefficient car.

At an average of €1.30-€1.35/litre for unleaded petrol, that means your fuel bill for petrol will be €60-€90. Diesel's about 10%-15% cheaper in France than petrol, most diesels gets about 20% better mileage and few people can really be such rotten drivers they can only get 25 miles to the gallon on a properly designed car.

But if your mileage really is going to be as low as you think, it has to be obvious that there just can't be a $60 saving from diesel, unless you're hiring some absurd gas guzzler,
flanneruk is offline  
Feb 17th, 2008, 05:52 AM
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Thanks. Just getting a small to maybe intermediate car.
There are only two of us.

It isn't $60 a day, just $60 total.

I think I will stick with the less expensive model.
Sher is offline  
Feb 17th, 2008, 10:15 AM
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I don't think European auto rental agents differentiate diesel and gasoline models in their pricing.

On most of the agents' website, they will indicate a particular type of car OR equivalent.

I'd book the cheaper car, and when picking up, ask if it's diesel or gasoline. If gasoline, ask them if they have a diesel in the same vehicle class.
rkkwan is offline  
Feb 17th, 2008, 10:30 AM
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I don't think I had any choice when I rented a car in France several times -- the agency gave me whatever car was available, and I just took it. I didn't really care as I wasn't going to be driving that much, and regular fuel cars in France are pretty fuel efficient anyway (at least smaller models, like I had). I have always been given regular fuel cars when I rented from Europcar. The important thing is just to know which you have. I think it is obvious and there are labels on the gas tank door, etc., but if you don't know French or don't pay attention, you might miss that.
Christina is offline  
Feb 17th, 2008, 10:31 AM
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In my experience you don't even have a choice. Almost every rental car in France that's bigger than a SmartCar is a diesel, so unless you're renting a pillbox you'll get a diesel. If you're paying $60 more for a diesel car it's highly likely it's because you're getting a bigger, better car.

And why wouldn't you want one anyway? They get significantly better mileage to the gallon and every gas station in France is equipped to give you gaseol. However, since you're barely using the car at all, I don't think it matters.
StCirq is offline  
Feb 17th, 2008, 10:38 AM
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We've leased Peugeot diesels several times and always loved our mileage and fuel savings -- pretty major. But the mention above about them being noisier, sure didn't apply to our more recent models. One of the few problems we had was starting the car, deciding where we were headed, and then "starting" the car again, forgetting it was already running because it was so silent.

On the other hand, the times we've rented a car last minute or just for a day even in France, I don't think we've ever gotten a diesel. Is the idea that nearly all rentals in France are diesels a new one in the last year or two?
NeoPatrick is offline  
Feb 17th, 2008, 11:04 AM
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Maybe they have made progress in the "noisier" engine in the latests models? We have leased a Kangoo (love this model) the last few years and you definitely could hear its unique purrrrr...not that that was a problem. And the savings was major. As others have said, I'm not sure it's much of a factor with as little driving as you are planning on doing.

You don't mention "standard transmission" or not. We love having a stick shift for better control on the switch backs, mountain passes, and autoroutes where you might have a sudden need for speed reduction or want your brakes to not go out. I feel safer in France with my stick shift that I do in the US with my automatic. That would be more of a major "must have" to me in your situation.
klondike is offline  
Feb 17th, 2008, 11:12 AM
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I drive a turbo diesel Audi. It literally gets twice the mileage as a petrol car. On atrip we can 1300 kilometres out of a tank.
ozrick33 is offline  
Feb 17th, 2008, 11:44 AM
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I have driven a car two or three times in France. I always rent an automatic.
I know that they are more expensive to rent, but I do not drive a stick shift and although I like the prices of the standard transmission models, I would rather not learn how.
I did receive a diesel automatic in France once, it seemed to be more fuel efficient and this is why I asked.
Sher is offline  

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