What’s the best electric car for renting on holiday? | Top Gear
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Electric

What’s the best electric car for renting on holiday?

We love a trashy holiday rental car and the Dacia Spring is a prime candidate

Part of the thrill of going on a mildly exotic European holiday is that delightful game of rental car bingo, the yawning gap between what you think you’ve booked versus what you end up with. 

And really there’s nothing more fun than bouncing around foreign cities in a car that you’d never want to own but can appreciate the simplicity of for a brief time abroad. A little holiday fling, perhaps. Some might say it’s hypocritical to sing the praises of something you’d never look twice at, but we say that every car can have its moment to shine in the right circumstances. 

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Haring through Italy in a battered Fiat 500? Sounds like pure bliss. Perhaps enjoying the coast of Spain in something like a Skoda Fabia, kitted with a rental spec interior that’s so unremittingly grey that you can’t actually find the gearstick, or the glory of coaxing a sad little Hyundai i10 up the looming mountain that sits in the middle of Tenerife, all so you can enjoy a view blocked by clouds. 

These are pleasures that will soon be denied us as petrol engines are gradually extinctified and small cars become increasingly less economical for manufacturers to even build in the first place. But there is hope, in the form of a car that we can’t even buy in the UK, thus cementing its potential as a number one prize in the hire desk tombola.

The Dacia Spring has been sold in the European market since 2021 and has appealed to buyers thanks to its no-nonsense simplicity, cheap running costs and (usually) sub–€20k asking price. 

The 143-mile range is nothing to write home about – unless you’re really running out of things to put on your postcards – but who really drives that much on their holidays? You just need to trundle about the place and top-up on crisps and weird local sausages at the supermarket, surely? A week away and you probably wouldn’t even need to charge the thing up, which is just as well, because it ‘fast’ charges at 30kW and there’s half your week gone. 

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There’s been talk of Dacia bringing the car to the UK, but that would surely be a mistake without the lustre of foreign climes to add a little je ne sais quoi to life with the car. Living with a cut price Romanian-badged EV in dreary grey England? It doesn’t bear thinking about. Because as we all know, life certainly isn’t full of boozy dinners and beach trips. If you were going to bring your rental fling back home you’d have to think all those sensible things through, like can I live with these scratchy old plastics, is the boot big enough and is the Spring actually a safe car to have a crash in?

Did it do well in its Euro NCAP cash tests? No it did not, with the safety obsessed outfit criticising the car because of the “high risk” of “life threatening injuries” for the driver and rear passengers. There’s no pleasing some people. Did they not see what a bargain it was? This is the trade-off you’ve traditionally had to make in the past, between low low prices and life-threatening chest injuries. Only if you crash, mind, so just don’t do that – that'd really put a dampener on your holibobs.

Best EV for holiday rentals – Dacia Spring
Price: From £20 a day (probably)
Range: 143 miles
Engine: 44bhp e-motor
Battery: 27kWh
Top speed: 78mph
0–62mph: 15.0secs
Boot space: 300 litres 

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