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Renting an auto with automatic transmission in France (esp. Corsica); buy-back programs

Based on the car rental company websites I've visited, it seems like almost all of the cars with automatic transmission are electric (one is a hybrid--Renault Clio). I know how to drive a manual ("stick"), but it's been at least 25 years since I last drove one, and I am in my 60s and my reflexes are much slower now. While I may be able to handle a manual for most of the places I plan to visit in 3 1/2 weeks in France, for my 9 days in Corsica, I would feel a LOT safer with an automatic. Those mountain roads--and almost all roads in Corsica are mountainous, or at least extremely winding--look extremely dangerous on my map. Several folks have sent me private texts in answer to previous inquiry, trying to reassure me that driving in Corsica isn't such a white-knuckle experience, but I'm not convinced. I have never driven an electric car or a hybrid, and am afraid that in the Corsican mts. and countryside, charging stations will be few and far between or non-existent. And while I really don't know what a hybrid car is or how it works. Can anyone explain? And does anyone have any suggestions as to which car rental companies or brokers I might try for an automatic on Corsica? Has anyone had any experience with "buy-back" car leasing? I know it can be a lot cheaper than a normal car rental (for my trip in mainland France), but what if the company won't "buy it back" from me when I return it? Especially if there's any damage to it? I'm really naive when it comes to car rental contracts, and there has to be a "catch" to this somewhere. Thanks for any suggestions!

Posted by
2272 posts

Here’s a map of charging stations in Corsica:
As for hybrids, they’re really not so different to drive - the electric motor kicks in as needed, greatly improving the fuel economy, and the motor’s battery is automatically recharged when you decelerate, but you don’t have to do anything special for all this to happen.

Posted by
5321 posts

I have never driven an electric car or a hybrid, and am afraid that in
the Corsican mts. and countryside, charging stations will be few and
far between or non-existent.

You can find charging stations here: It seems like there are a few on the island. Also, how much need will there be for a charging station? A modern electric usually has a range of around 400 km or more, Corsica is around 180 km from north to south as the crow flies. How long drives are you planning?

And while I really don't know what a hybrid car is or how it works.
Can anyone explain?

A hybrid is a car that has two engines, usually one electric and one petrol or diesel. And a small battery. That improves the fuel consumption a lot. A more common version today is the plug in hybrid that has a slightly larger battery that can be charged using a normal car charger and usually has a range of around 50 km or so in pure electric mode. Read more on Wikipedia:

Posted by
9779 posts

I drive a hybrid. It’s like driving any other car, but with better gas mileage. Just put gas in it like you do in your car. There’s nothing to plug in.

Posted by
1980 posts

Auto leasing programs (buy back) typically require at least a 21 day rental period. There are limited places that you can pick up/return the car. Google auto Europe vehicle leases for locations. The car comes with full insurance coverage, so if you scratch/ding/damage it, there’s no problem. It will be a brand new car, but if something mechanical happens (you blow a tire, crack a windshield or the transmission dies), you are responsible for having it fixed since you OWN the car for the lease period.

Driving a manual transmission car is like riding a bike. You don't forget. I rented a manual car in Greece after 15 years of slush boxes back in Canada... loved it so much I sold my car when I got home and have been driving manuals ever since. You'll be just fine. In fact, if you are concerned about mountain roads, a manual transmission will give you much more control, especially on steep descents.

Posted by
9741 posts

On the other side of the coin, they are almost all 6-speed now. My husband who learned to drive in Paris and owned a 2CV and R4 in his youth, has had trouble between gears due to the tiny shift space in these 6-speed gear boxes; reverse is a pain too, lifting a ring and pushing over and back. I am always wondering what gear I'm in and missing reverse. It was a bit hairy on some hills shifting into the wrong gear. He also got tired this past year. I decided the time has come for our safety to stick with automatics although all our cars, even here in the States, had been manuals until recently when we bought our first hybrid only a few years ago. Our kids had to learn on a manual or they couldn't get a license. Things change, we aged, and even in France automatics now make up 50% of the cars sold.

Posted by
992 posts

Having acquiesced to driving autos in the states the past decade or so, I enjoy having the option of driving a manual transmission car when I'm in France. I actually miss them in the States, and am currently in the process of purchasing a car from the 60's with a 5-speed manual. My understanding is that with the prevalence of electric cars everywhere, driving tests are becoming auto-only these days. Kids these days won't know what they missed.