I'm so glad Oppositelock has a proper home again.
I always enjoyed seeing the Rentalcarlopnik posts back in the day, so I figured I'd make my contribution.
Over the Holidays we went to visit my family in Germany. Since they live only about 50 minutes from the dutch border we flew into Amsterdam and drove from there.
With two adults and two kids aged 11 and 5 plus 6 pieces of checked luggage and a few small carry-ons/personal items, we needed something big enough to fit everything.
I made a reservation for a "Mazda6 Station Wagon or Similar” with Enterprise through the German auto club ADAC, thinking that should fit just fine.
After our red eye from Detroit, we arrived in Amsterdam in the early morning. We headed straight to the Enterprise counter, which was closed that early in the day, and then followed signs guiding us to the rental car parking garage office instead.
Once there, I handed over the paperwork, my passport, and credit card to the attendant. Once he noticed my German passport, he says: "Are you driving into Germany?", "Yes, we're going to be there pretty much the whole time." "Then you need a car with Winter tires!"
For a little background on that: "Winter capable" tires (M+S or 3PMS) are mandatory in Germany in icy, snowy, slippery, and slushy road conditions in cold weather. The fine is €60, or €80 and one point if you’re also obstructing traffic.
The Netherlands has no similar winter tire mandate, so unlike in Germany, their rental cars are not equipped with winter tires from November through March.
This meant the pickings were slim and they only had one vehicle with winter tires.
They had originally assigned us a Seat Ateca:
But the only vehicle they had available with winter tires was this:
Well shit, a compact. The guy said there was no way all of us and our stuff could fit in there. Not so fast, buddy.
After some serious tetrising I managed to fit everything in the car. Granted, the kids had a large box between them in the back seat, but that turned out to be a blessing as there was no fighting or squabbling for the entire 3.5 hour drive.
As far as the car itself, it was a silver B180 with the AMG sport package and some nice options (dual wide screen displays and heated seats, most notably). The engine was the 1.3L turbo four (M282 DE14) in the 136PS (134HP) and 200NM (148lb.-ft.) output version mated to a 7-Speed dual clutch (Mercedes 7G-DCT) transmission.
Being somewhat familiar with M-B controls, especially the electronic gear selector on the right of the steering wheel, getting used to it didn't take long. The one thing that was immediately annoying though, was the active lane assist, that kept emergency braking anytime I came near the edge of my lane, almost getting me rear-ended a few times. I made it a habit to turn that off before every drive.
Other than that, it was a perfectly adequate vehicle for us. We drove it for about 1600 miles throughout our stay and besides taking a long time to get up to top speed (215km/k or 134mph), I have no complaints. Since I was the only driver, not having memory seats was not a big deal either.
All in all it was a decent ride and as far as options, it was very nice for a rental. Unlike in the US there are many well equipped cars in the lower rungs of the rental car fleets in Europe.
What kind of pissed me off, besides getting downgraded, was that they charged us €150 extra, because winter tires are an optional upgrade.
Please have some picture for enduring my ramblings:
To my point about rentals being nicer in Europe: last time, when it was just my youngest and me (because we went for a funeral and the older one had school), we had a very nice 150PS/148HP and 240Nm/175ft/lb six speed manual Ford Focus Wagon ST-Line that was just as well equipped and much better to drive with the slightly bigger (1.5L) and more powerful engine: