Europcar, Barcelona Airport
THE PAPERWORK: A row of car rental desks greets passengers arriving at Barcelona's Terminal 2, including Europcar's. A fluent Englishspeaking member of staff welcomed me and took ten minutes or so to run through the paperwork, efficiently answering my queries on excess charges and the returns procedure. My license and passport were required, but not the code generated by the DVLA's new system earlier in the week. On completion, I was directed across the road to the pickup office and parking bays.
THE PICK-UP: I took the paperwork to the pick-up office (no bus transfers required – it was just a short walk away) and had a brief wait before being handed the keys. I'd requested a compact category four-door car when booking and, on the confirmation, was promised a VW Golf or similar – and sure enough that is what awaited me in the pick-up bay.
THE CAR: The TDI Blue Motion model (for better fuel economy) was graphite grey and had a few small scratches and one dent – they were all marked on the paperwork. It was a semi-automatic with plenty of poke, good visibility, a quiet and comfortable ride and, thankfully, effective air conditioning.
THE DROP-OFF: I filled right up with diesel at a filling station close to the airport in order to avoid the inflated fuel prices and additional charge for returning the vehicle without a full tank. Finding the returns location (the same as the pick-up point) was a bit of a challenge and so it proved for several other lost-looking drivers on the airport's perimeter roads. Having safely parked up, I'd hardly turned the engine off before a member of staff approached to check the car over, ask for my signature and take the keys. A real relief since I was short on time before my return flight and the queue at the Europcar office was out of the door at that point in time.
THE VERDICT: Overall this was a good, slick car rental experience – particularly the swift return – and an excellent vehicle too. In hindsight, I would have opted for satnav rental too and allowed more time to find the returns location!
THE DETAILS: Car hire rates vary by vehicle and location. A lead-in rate of £13.71 per day is based on a sevenday rental of a Fiat 500, or similar, picking up and dropping off at Barcelona Airport. Tel 0871 384 0201 or see: www.europcar.co.uk/business
Reviewed by Andy Hoskins (2015)