Hire Before You Buy?
When thinking of buying a new motor the first step is generally to do a bit of homework and come up with a shortlist of the types of models you have in mind. But after all that research you get to the showroom and the actual test drive lasts a mere 20 minutes or so if you’re lucky, and that’s way too short a period in which to be expected to reach a decision on whether you’ll go with it or not. Why not think along the lines of car hire compare instead, and put a prospective purchase through its proper, daily paces like doing the school or grocery run, and be able to make a proper estimate of how many miles to the gallon it does rather than just lapping up the slick sales blurb?
A mid-size car can be relatively inexpensive to rent, and the price drops with the number of days you rent it for. You could rent three or four such cars for one day each and it would be money well spent as you got to know them properly. After all, you wouldn’t marry someone after a ten-minute meeting but would court them for at least a few weeks to find out whether you were compatible or not. Although it’s not quite the same, a car is a major purchase for most people and paying a bit extra up-front to determine suitability is worth the money and effort involved, as the real cost of a poor decision would be a lot higher. Once the chatty salesman has given you his ten minutes of slick banter you’ll know plenty about his sales technique but little about the car beyond the fact that you were absolutely made for each other and all the rest of it.
Hiring your car
Clearly, not every car on your shortlist will necessarily be available for you to rent. Do a bit of digging, for example checking out the major car rental companies’ websites to see what makes and models they have in their fleets, adopt a flexible approach and be open to considering other types.
Because car rental company employees will sometimes tell you that it’s not possible to guarantee a particular model for you to reserve, get in touch with the local office instead of the head office when making a reservation to see whether the car you’re interested in is available on that particular day. Be prepared also to ask to speak to the manager if the member of staff you happen to get on the phone can’t give satisfaction.
Once you’ve managed to get the model you’re after, remember that minor differences between it and your ideal car of choice are not important. Don’t worry for example if it has aluminium rather than the chrome wheels you’re after, or if it’s a different colour from the one you want. The whole point of the exercise is to realistically test drive a car of the type you’re after and make sure that it functions in the way you want during a variety of daily activities.
David Elliott is a freelance writer who loves to travel, especially in Europe and Turkey. He’s spent most of his adult life in a state of restless excitement but recently decided to settle in North London. He gets away whenever he can to immerse himself in foreign cultures and lap up the history of great cities.