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Type of car hire?

Hello! We'll be driving through the Highlands in May, a loop starting and ending in Inverness, including Orkney, Skye, etc. Wondering what type of car to rent. So far I've read the smaller the better for maneuvering through tight roads. Any need for 4WD in spring? Will a compact the size of a rollerskate make it up the hills?

Thanks in advance for any advice you can share!

Posted by
1663 posts

There is no need for a a 4wd at all unless you are in to serious off roading.

As I understand it the US term 'compact' refers to what we call 'C' class cars, these are cars like the Ford Focus, Hyundai i30, Toyota Corolla. These are the most common cars here, and are big enough and powerful enough. As are the cars smaller than that.

You don't want the smallest ones as they can be cramped with luggage, but for 2 people a B class (Fiesta, Yaris, i20 or equivalent) is big enough.

Posted by
805 posts

I agree with the above and would only add one thing. Being near terminally right handed I would try to reserve an automatic transmission car since shifting gears with the left hand can be at best awkward especially when trying to remember to drive on the other side of the road. Have a great trip.

Posted by
1663 posts

Irv points out something I forgot, and we tend to forget. Try and get an auto. This means a B or C class, smaller than that they are not that good.

The assumption here is a manual unless you specify, less than 20% of drivers drive automatics regularly. Unless you specify it will be a manual.

Posted by
5678 posts

You should try and work it out so that you have separate car rentals for Orkney and Scotland.

I've had small cars in Scotland and had no issues with power. The roads are small, but it's not that steep. Undiscovered Scotland has a great section on driving in Scotland.

Pam

Posted by
6789 posts

Some places on the Isle of Skye are one lane with pull off areas for passing. When we were there we were given a Plymouth Voyager sized mini-van by the rental company (that's the only automatic Avis had when we arrived and not what we reserved) and had no trouble the entire trip.

Posted by
1663 posts

A Plymouth mini van? ;-) Not a brand sold in this market!

It does help to remember cars here will be manual unless asked for otherwise. Requesting an auto-box may result in a car above what you are after.