Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Rental Cars

The majority of us gearheads will likely get a bit excited whenever a chance arises to rent an automobile. Unless you're a gentleperson of means that can afford to treat yourself to an exclusive exotic car for hire program during your stay in perhaps Vegas or Miami, you're almost certainly setting yourself up for an inevitable letdown. Case in point:

The girlfriend and I last night sat down to book our hotel and rental car for an upcoming October trip to Chicago. Through her job, she is eligible for 'free upgrades' at various rental suppliers... hence a twinkle appeared in my eye as I hoped we may be able to swing some remotely interesting transportation. Upon inspection of the available iron, my middling hopes stumbled in witness to the fun-squashingly equipped domestic sh*t-kickers.

Since I didn't feel it necessary to pony up for the probably still uninspiring automatic V6 Mustang, our Chi-town steed shall be a base Ford Fusion. Aside from being one of the more interesting looking domestic offerings, it's got halfway decent Mazda 6 underpinnings somewhere up under there that might just offer up something resembling transient response. The engine, a Duratec 4-cylinder funneling 160 hp through an indifferent slushbox to mile-high behubcapped rolling stock, is sure to leave my mind securely unblown. Nevertheless, secret plans exist to steal away and conduct a semi-serious road test for posterity... stay tuned (snore).

All hope for the prospective driving vacationer is not lost however. I managed to be thoroughly entertained by a Nissan Micra during a week in Ireland last year. If it's your first time driving in Europe, no matter what you end up with, you're thrust into a completely alien driving environment forcing you to learn everything backwards pretty much immediately to avoid death. I recommend an oddball little car like my Micra or some dodgy Fiat that offers the novelty of driving something not even available in the US. Despite resembling an atrophied bee trapped in snot, the Micra proved a lightweight and admirably tight little car that made the most of what felt like 15 hp. Throw in an honest manual gearchange for your left hand and it's like being 16 all over again.

1 comment:

Terry G. said...

Hear hear! I'm had the good fortune to do an immense amount of traveling with my current organization. Every time I go somewhere, I'm almost immediately let down by my rental experience. Some of the, um, exciting rides I've had:
-Dodge Caliber
-Hyundai Sonata
-Toyota Corolla
-Chevy Cobalt
-Chevy Impala
-Chevy Monte Carlo
-Ford E250 van
-Ford Fiesta (UK)
-Dodge Caravan Sport

My favorites were actually the Corolla, Sonata, and Fiesta. The Corolla and Sonata because, while more boring than your mom in bed, were at least made of something other than recycled Hungry Man XL trays. The Fiesta, of course, was fun for the reasons you described; mainly the near-death experiences I had while trying to drive on the wrong side of the road.