International business travel generally sucks, unless you’re unfortunate enough to have to do it all the time and can reap the rewards of perks from airline and auto rental memberships. Even then the amount of effort you have to put into it simply doesn’t make it attractive to me.
On my recent trip to the United Kingdom, I rented a car from Hertz.
Why do you need a car in London you might ask. Generally when I travel to our London office I’m taking equipment over or bringing something back or in 50% of the trips helping them move offices. Our offices are also on the outside of London, just outside of the reach of most of the tube. That’s why I need a car. What about taxi’s? Taxi’s suck. So there.
I’ve rented a car there 4 times now. That process itself is usually pretty hateful. In fact the last time through “National”, we were basically scammed. I had initially booked the reservation through Kayak and rentalcars.com, but the agent at the airport capitalized on my over-night red-eye fog to bait and switch me. So needless to say, National will never get any of my business again, ever. But that’s not what this article is about.
This article is about the awesome service I received from Hertz. A magnificent upgrade to a brand new Mercedes CLS350 AMG Estate wagon. When I say brand new, it had 9 miles on it.
I price shopped via Kayak again, but actually booked the car through United.com. Then hooked up my (new to me) Hertz Gold membership to the reservation. This means other than having pre-done the Hertz Gold membership, they knew nothing about me. I had not previously rented 10 vehicles from them. They just treated me like gold. I hopped on the shuttle, they dropped me off and told me where my parking lot stall was. I got there, and found the car. Checked the bill, and was ready to set sail. The only thing that was missing was the need to add the insurance to the reservation as our corporate insurance doesn’t extend overseas. So we hopped into the reservation counter, handed them the invoice and they just took care of it. Easy peasy.
Basically what I got to tool around in was this:
So how awesome was it?
It was awesome. Of course the steering wheel was on the wrong side, but it was super comfortable. Had plenty of power, and got decent mileage on top of it all.
It was a turbo diesel, with ‘eco’ features. This ‘eco’ feature is a new thing over there where the car shuts off when you’re stopped. You pick your foot up off the brake and the car just starts back up. Every time you stop. At lights, at parking stalls, at roundabouts, when you’re about to pull out. Yeah, all of those times. I hate it.
Thankfully you can turn it off. I couldn’t however figure out a way to have it turned off by default. I would change that if I owned one.
I didn’t take photos of the interior, but there was plenty of room in the trunk for two large checked bags.
It simply drove and handled like a dream and I put 500 miles on it over the course of 7 days on a trip to Dover and a trip to Brighton beach and some tooling around in the country.
So would I drive this car again? You bet. Would I buy one? You bet, if money wasn’t an issue. Would I rent from Hertz again? Absolutely.
Actual car driven on real roads to real destinations, not on a closed course: