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Big Guy/Small Car?

In Steve's "Tips for Booking a Renal Car" he says "if you pack light and have only one other person in tow, the smallest models should have plenty of room, even if its a little less than the you're used to". I am 6'2", do you think the smaller Italian rentals would be adequate.? I'm used to some scrunching, but don't want to do the clown act. I think the smallest is a Compact, such as a Fiat 500L? It will be just my wife and I. Thanks so much.
Mark

Posted by
6439 posts

Maybe go down to the Fiat dealer and give one a test sit?

Posted by
6543 posts

I'm about your size, and I usually go for the second from smallest. I'm okay in a Ford Fiesta, but a Smart car would just be too slow and too small.
I've not looked closely at a Fiat 500. They do have the larger Fiat 500 model that'd be sufficient.

Posted by
1446 posts

My husband is 6'3" and we rented a 500L a few years ago. It was actually very spacious inside and he had enough head room. It was just the two of us and we loved that little car.

Posted by
11981 posts

The 500L is not a small compact, it also has a decent cargo hold for the category. You can easily fit yourself, your wife, and your mistress, with luggage.

For just two people (either your mistress or your wife stays home) you could probably do with an economy model as well, but if you don't pack light, some Econ models are as small as a Toyota Yaris hatchback and may require you to fold the backseat forward to increase the cargo. That is ok except that your luggage will be visible in case you park it with the luggage inside.

Posted by
12 posts

Truly, thank you everyone. I'll be a long way from home in Santa Cruz. Also, I haven't used a stick since my VW college days. Anyone else try renting a stick after a long, straight-faced career...

Posted by
786 posts

I like the idea above to go to a Fiat dealer and try it out - except car rental agencies do not guarantee a car model, so it might not help you in the end. Buy it couldn't hurt to know. I have a friend who is 5' 17.5" (his phrasing, not mine), so taller than you. After trying many models, he deliberately bought a SMART car because it had so much head and leg room. Astonishing. It was much taller inside than you would think looking at the outside. You just never know how auto designers tweak things, so a wander round to a dealership might be very informative.

P.S. (Information utterly useless to you). I am a foot shorter than you, but I sure loved the Fiat 500X I rented in Italy last summer :)

Posted by
6087 posts

I rented a stick shift in France after 10 years away from driving one. It only took a few minutes to come back to me and be second nature. The newer stick shift cars are so easy to clutch and shift that it shouldn't be a problem if you've ever driven one in the past.

Posted by
990 posts

I think that driving a stick shift is similar to falling off a bicycle -- you never really forget how!
;-)

Posted by
11613 posts

When I travel with friends, we request a Fiat 500L and find it very comfortable and spacious for three people. Avoid the Renault Elf.

Posted by
11981 posts

All the Fiat 500L I happen to get from the rental companies happened to be diesels. Diesel engines are more powerful than equivalent gasoline engines and get considerable more mileage per liter. Last year I rented a Fiat 500L diesel. The mileage was 5 liter per 100km. His year a smaller Fiat Punto gasoline. I got 5.4 lt per 100km. Also in Italy diesel fuel is about €0.15 per liter cheaper than gasoline, so it's an added bonus. None of the economy cars I rented have been diesels so far. The smaller the cars, the more likely is you get a gasoline engine (Diesel engines perform better with bigger displacements). The most likely models you will get in the compact category are Fiat500L or Fiat Grande Punto. Both are good and spacious. Compacts sometimes come with automatic transmission. Just ask. Economy cars model are nearly always manual transmission only.

Posted by
91 posts

Ford C-Max or Fiat 500L. I am 6'8" and fit comfortably in both. Hertz usually has the C-Max available in Italy, except our last visit when we got the 500L. I was pleasantly surprised. Be comfortable.

Posted by
337 posts

@RobertoDaFirenza: The thing about the diesel is that it's really dirty, emissions wise. So Europe embraced due to high fuel costs, but is now working to dump, due to dirty emissions.

At 6'2", I'm excited for the Fiat Panda or similar on upcoming trip.

Posted by
11981 posts

Dear Max it might be as dirty as you say, but if you rent a car in the compact or above category, the chance of getting a diesel is extremely high. As a matter of fact, I've never gotten a compact car (or above) that wasn't. Diesel fuel costs 10% less and diesel cars get 15-20% more mileage per liter, so people like to buy them for that reason and rental companies like to keep them in their fleet because they are easier to resell. What are you going to do?

Posted by
1700 posts

In Italy if renting any of the compact classes you are definitely getting a diesel and a manual unless you randomly get a free upgrade when you show up.
A Fiat 500L is definitely not the smallest car you could get, it is actually a couple of sizes up I believe and would have plenty of room for someone 6', 2" ; I am taller than you and in my entire life the only cars I don't "fit" in our very small convertibles when the top is down. Any non-convertible will have enough headroom for someone 6 foot 2".

Posted by
2235 posts

Mark, just one tip based on personal experience: be sure you know how to shift into reverse before you drive away from the rental office. During my trip, the first time I needed to back up, I tried everything I could think of, without success, until my apartment owner came to the car to help, and he knew right away. (On my model it involved pulling up on a ring under the knob of the shift stick, which then released the stick so you could move it into reverse. Who knew? Not me.)

Posted by
6087 posts

Larry, that's good advice. I had forgotten about that. On one of my rental cars in France I had to push a button before shifting into reverse. Luckily my rental car agent mentioned that to me, obviously he had dealt with dummies like me before.

Posted by
11981 posts

Larry of Carmel, if you had a Subaru like me, you would have figured it out. Same mechanism. Pull the ring up and shift to reverse. The newer Fiat Punto has the same. My dad's old Punto, required to push the stick shift down. My challenge a couple of years ago was to figure out how to open a VW trunk. You need to push and pull up the VW logo in the back. Same with some new Fiat models. A friend of mine from Italy could not figure out where the hand break was in an America model (often a pedal to the left).
Rental companies should have a basic owners manual card.

Posted by
20718 posts

One thing I have learned, I don't leave the rental yard until have opened and closed everything. In the past I have had my share of problems trying to get the gas door open. I even check to make sure I have a spare tire. I think all of the cars we have ever rented have been diesel and that is not a problem but be sure you put diesel in the tank. Remember someone posted here about all the problems they had when they put gasoline in a diesel tank. -- And -- of course -- it wasn't their fault because no one told them it was a diesel engine. Diesel fuel is cleaner in several key areas than gasoline so don't be afraid to use it.

Posted by
112 posts

A few years ago we spent 20 minutes in the car rental parking lot trying to figure out how to get the brake off and back up. It was not pretty :(

Posted by
11981 posts

Max, 10 years from now, after 2 terms of President Trump, all cars in America will be required to use coal as fuel. Diesel will be seen as the greenest option.

Posted by
6439 posts

Ahh... Roberto's comment explains why my broker advised me to invest in coal mines------ not really sure how it addresses OP question about how well he might fit in a Fiat 500L

Posted by
12 posts

Hello.
This is BigGuy/SmallCar. Since you are such a lively and knowledgable group, we have a follow-up question regarding effective navigation systems - do you prefer the GPS that comes with the rental car or using the navigation system on your phone. If you prefer the latter, which app do you use? Thanks so much.

Posted by
11981 posts

Ok mrtrabing.
Now that we have established that a 6ft2in guy can comfortably fit in a 500L with room to spare, lets talk GPS.

Unless your rental car comes with such device (generally only larger models do) if you want one from them, they will charge you about 15euro a day. That is way too much for my taste so for years I brought my old Garmin GPS. Now I use it only the first hours until I get a local SIM card for my iPhone, after which I use my phone (I don't use my AT&T abroad because their international data charges are way too much, but if you have T-Mobile they are more reasonable).

If you use your phone, it will work in Italy. I generally use the Google Maps app, but I also have the Waze App in my phone. I discovered this month, that unlike Google Maps, Waze also warns me of all Speed Camera machines along the road (there are thousands all over Italian roads), so now I use that one. Obviously on Italian roads that I know well, I use nothing.

One thing about GPS. They sometimes give you strange directions. So have a paper map for planning and for back up. Also Italian roads are well signaled by indicating the towns that come next (Italian signs rarely mention the Road number or North/South etc.). So when you study your itinerary on a paper map, make sure you mark the list of towns coming up in sequential order.

Posted by
786 posts

If you get a 500L or 500X, it will probably have a built-in GPS. It worked like a charm for me, easier to set up and follow than Google Maps. Extra bonus points, I annoyed my friends because I left it chattering at me in Italian and I was the only one in the car who had a clue what she was telling me and where we were going. Tee hee. Point is, make sure if you plan on using the built-in one that you can figure out how to make her speak English (assuming you need it.)

Later in that trip, another smaller rental car did not have a built-in GPS and I used Google Maps on my iPhone. Also worked fine. So as long as you have a decently priced data plan, you should be fine either way.

Posted by
11981 posts

Like Nelly, I like Italian language directions and in km. The reason is that if I leave the voice in English, the pronunciation of Italian street names or towns becomes totally unintelligible. My wife burst into uncontrollable laughter when Google Maps told us to follow the signs to Baloney, on the way from Milan to Florence. Waze app makes it very easy to change the language. But if you don't understand Italian, then you must go with your mother tongue.

Posted by
1 posts

Just a heads up to everyone for GOOGLE MAPS. The Google maps app I use on my galaxy s6 lets me download maps of areas ahead of time and then it doesn't need to use data just gps. I run it in airplane mode with gps on and it works great. Just turn on wifi for internet when you have access. It got me all around France, Martinique, and Quebec doing that. You don't get live traffic data and a few things like that but it fully works as a gps.