A few weeks ago saw the welcome return of Top Gear to our screens – the saviour of weekend viewing in my opinion! All the regulars are back, the TG team, the fantastic cars, breath-taking cinematography, crazy challenges and of course The Stig!

Not too long ago, the TG team declared the Stelvio Pass in the Italian Alps as the ‘greatest driving road in the world’ after taking a selection of supercars for a test drive. In the opening episode of this series the destination was Romania and the Transfăgărăşan.

The Transfăgărăşan road is a winding spectacle, littered with challenging hairpin turns, climbs and descents across the Carpathian Mountain range. It provided the ideal setting for Jeremy Clarkson and co. to drive their chosen cars – the Aston Martin DBS Volante, Ferrari California and Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder LP560-4.

The conclusion after an adventure getting there was that Jeremy admitted to having made a mistake pronouncing Stelvio Pass as the greatest road and gave the Transfăgărăşan road in Romania the title!

Do you have experience of driving along some of the featured roads or have recommendations on where to go to get that ultimate driving experience?

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Driving in WinterWe know that many drivers are unsure of how to cope with conditions on the roads during the winter months. And it’s not just ice and snow which cause problems. You also need to take extra special care when there is fog, wind, rain, wet leaves and glare from the sun!

We have teamed up with Interactive Driving Systems, to help you become more aware of the risks and keep you safe when you are driving this winter.

Our top 10 tips for driving in the winter
1) Check the weather conditions before you set out.
2) Keep your distance from the car in front – it can take 10 times longer to stop in icy conditions and twice as long in wet conditions.
3) Drive carefully in a low gear .
4) Do not brake suddenly – as this can cause you to skid. If you do skid, steer in the direction of it
5) Leave plenty of time for your journey.
6) Use dipped headlights in fog and in thick fog use fog lights, but don’t forget to turn them off once conditions improve.
7) Don’t drive through flood water .
8 ) Make sure you have plenty of fuel and keep an emergency kit in the car (warm clothing, boots, flashlight, food and drink, blankets and a high-visibility jacket).
9) Tell someone about your journey and let them know when you have arrived .
10) Keep your mobile phone with you and the number of a breakdown company.

If you have any other tips to stay safe this winter let us know.

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Apparently it’s all relative, time, space…and even which side of the road is right and which one is wrong.

I’ve recently passed my driving test in the UK and having originally learnt to drive in Italy, and have to admit that the first impact with driving on the left, was well, interesting. As my driving instructor eloquently put it, in the UK: “left is right and right is wrong…”, and that little mantra will probably stick with me forever.

But that got me thinking about all the British drivers who every day cross the Channel and face the slight disconcerting feeling of looking at the world suddenly flowing in the wrong direction.

Unfortunately I don’t have a catchy phrase for that, but I’ve tried to collect a short list of tips which I hope you could find useful:

1) Keep right: obvious as it sounds, that’s the golden rule when driving in Europe the USA and most other countries outside the UK. Right lane is your regular navigation lane whereas the left one is for overtaking.

Bear in mind that the side of the road is not the only thing you have to consider when driving abroad. Of course most road signs and general rules are the same but others vary by country. In Italy for example you normally give way to vehicles coming from the right, but if you are driving roundabout you have to give way to traffic coming from the left.

2) Watch your speed: when you drive the “wrong side of the road” you will have to fight rather than rely upon some of your basic instincts, and if total concentration is paramount, driving at a moderate speed will give your brain that extra time needed to assess the situation and make the right decision in an unfamiliar situation.

3) Follow the crowd: I know this could sound obvious but paying attention to what other road users are doing is usually the best way to get, and stay, on the right side of the road when pulling out off a parking space or exiting a junction.
This is especially important when coming out of a junctions or…negotiating your way across a roundabout.
Of course if you are coming out an airport car park, chances as your fellow drivers might be as clueless as you are…. so be careful!

4) Take your time: Make sure you take few moments to familiarise with your car before you set off. No matter where you drive, pedals will be in the same, but when you drive in Europe for example, the steering wheel and the stick gear will be on your right so you will have to learn to change gear with your right hand. Doesn’t take long to get use to it, but if you feel this could be an issue for you, you might want to consider going for an automatic car.

5) Mind the curb: gauging distances when you suddenly have the bulk of your car on your right instead of your left might be tricky especially when you are trying to find your way around those picturesque, narrow passages that are so popular in Italy, Spain and France. So once again be careful and allow plenty of space when overtaking.

I hope these tips help, but if you have any others of your own please let us know.

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Following on from Barry’s post mentioning particular Cool Cars you’d like to see on fleet, I’d like to introduce what could potentially be the future of practically zero emission transport, although I’ll leave it up to you to judge whether or not it’s a “Cool Car”.

With such a high focus lately on low carbon emissions it was only a matter of time before air powered cars became a reality. And that reality is far closer thanks to Guy Negre, a French auto engineer who has developed a car powered by fresh air, with a fraction of the carbon emissions to that of a standard engine. He claims the car can reach speeds of 30mph-plus, travel for 65 miles on a one-minute recharge and best of all will only set you back just over £3000.

With Electric cars now on the rise, Negre has promoted the AirPod claiming “Compared to electric cars, air-powered cars cost a fraction of the price to buy, they don’t need expensive batteries to be replaced every five years or so and crucially they take only a fraction of the time to recharge.”

The plan is to have the air powered cars ranging from three-wheeled buggies to four-wheeled, five-door family saloons. This is then expected to increase to eventually include Vans, buses, taxis and boats. There is a potential agreement that could see air cars on sale in the UK within three years.

Ultimately it’s a City Car but for those of you looking for slightly further ventures there is a hybrid, battery-assisted version which is claimed can reach 100mph and travel 900 miles on one gallon of petrol.

Would you like to see air-powered vehicles available for rental within major city centres in the future? Would you be persuaded to rent based on the practically non-existent carbon emissions, the small compact size or the virtually free running costs? Let us know what you think.

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Avis-Cool-CarsThere is always lots of talk around the office about what cars we might potentially get on fleet, which cars we would like to see and what we think our customers would like to drive. Following on from Robert’s blog post on the Frankfurt Motor Show and news of our exclusivity on the Porsche Panamera in Germany, I was inspired to take a look at some of the other desirable cars available with Avis.

The focus of my attention starts in the US where they have a range of cars, similar to our own Select Series fleet – Cool Cars. Immediately, the selection of cars available in the range had me dreaming of picking up a Chevrolet Camaro (my personal favourite from the range!) at Los Angeles and cruising along the highways to the Grand Canyon to admire the awesome views.

Although, as the Cool Cars range is available throughout the States, from California, to Florida to Texas to Chicago, to name just a few, I could happily spend a few months travelling across the country taking in all the US has to offer, picking up a different car every week!

Alongside the Camaro (which is exclusive to Avis), you could also choose from the Ford Mustang or Chevy Corvette, both modern versions of the traditional ‘muscle cars’ I’ve admired and longed to drive since my youth. The Cool Cars fleet also boasts a handful of urban cruisers in the Cadillac CTS & STS, convertibles (Pontiac Solstice, Nissan 350Z convertible) for the poseurs amongst you and the inevitable ‘gas-guzzling’ SUVs such as the Hummer H3.

But fear not, there is also the Eco-Ride selection for those renters conscious about their carbon footprint. The Eco-Ride cars are either hybrids or have been SmartWay certified by the US Environment Protection Agency as being environmentally cleaner and more fuel efficient vehicles.

Whilst I try to convince my wife that taking the kids stateside to cruise the highways in a muscle car is a great idea for next years holiday, why not share what your ideal Cool Car fleet would look like!

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Life-of-an-Avis-car Being an Avis car means being a busy car. On average our cars travel 14,000 miles, are rented 45 times and spend 10 days in the body shop being repaired. In order to get them into the right place they are moved by 4 times by transporters spending 2 full days on the road without the cars wheels even turning. They travel the length of the country and are used for glamorous film shoots as well as for taking the kids to school.

As well as all these miles driven our cars also spend a lot of time idle. A great proportion of this is when they are awaiting collection from our corporate or home delivery customers. However, as our primary asset, it is of vital importance that we keep our cars spick and span and in the condition that you expect. To help ensure that this happens all our cars undergo checks before every rental. This means that each car will spend 3 days of its life in the Wash and Prep bays having tyre pressures and fluids checked and being cleaned inside and out.

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