Car rental tips: Something for the weekend?

Rental cars: Something for the weekend?

Rental cars need not always be Yarises and Tiidas

For true petrolheads, here's some car rental tips for you. There are few finer places in the world to live than right here in the UAE. This country loves its cars, and you'll see more exotics in a day here than in a month in London. But what if you're a mere mortal like most of us and don't have dirhams coming out of your ears? Again, you're in the right place, because the UAE's rental market is one of the best in the world. If it has wheels and an engine, you can hire it here.

Forget the regular Tiidas and Corollas; this is hire-car heaven. You want to be lord of the manor for a weekend and park a Roller in the drive? No problem. Fancy a sporty little supercar for a weekend away on the east coast? No problem. Feel like taking a 4x4 up the face of the nearest dune? Big problem. And there's the rub.

All of the major hire companies operating in the UAE have some sort of specialist division, a premium offer, a fleet of upmarket cars and off-roaders in addition to their regular rentals. If you can afford it, you can rent just about anything — Ferrari, Lamborghini, Lexus, Range Rovers, Minis and more, just by picking up the phone. The problem is what you want to do with it. As Neil Munro, Hertz Car Rental's sales and marketing director explains, they can give 'Deal of the Day' rates as low as Dh487 for the Land Cruiser, or Dh390 for the Prado. The only problem is you can't take them off road.

''Hertz provides full coverage for insurance for regular usage on all hires, although this excludes 'dune-bashing' and similar off-road activities, which, in our insurer's opinion, is best left to the professionals. Whilst we all accept that most vehicles are taken off-road on occasions, (inevitable as we do live in a desert!) our insurance coverage does limit liability to regular vehicle usage, i.e. paved roads, dirt tracks etc.''

It is the same story from all of the other providers — off-road leisure driving is specifically excluded in the terms of the rental contract. That doesn't mean you can't get cover — Fast Rent A Car gave this advice: ''We have a range of 4x4s available but the rental insurance does not cover any pleasure or sports driving (desert safari / dune bashing / wadi drive and so on). However, if it is for a job or work-related use it may be covered. If something happens then after an investigation and once we have proof then it could come under our insurance.''

Fast will put you in a Prado or Land Cruiser from Dh800-900 per day, but you might have more fun in a Mercedes E250 or a BMW 523i for the same price.

A bit more digging brings to light another deal, this time from discount voucher site Cobone, where Majestic Rent A Car are offering a 50 per cent discount on their top-end fleet, so you can have a Porsche Cayenne, Range Rover Sport or Nissan Patrol for Dh649 instead of the usual Dh1,300 for a day.

There is of course a lot of small print, so check carefully, and their use is confined to ''unrestricted areas within the UAE borders only''. They also list a Lamborghini Gallardo on their website, but apparently this is ''not available now, sir''.

However, there is hope. Specialist 4x4 company OffRoad-Zone will hire you a Jeep Wrangler, specifically for off-road use. Managing partner, Ara Sahakian, said its weekend rates are between Dh750 to Dh1,000 depending on the vehicle, and they do expect a certain degree of driver skill and experience. For beginners, they run training courses to teach you the basics and ensure you are fully aware of safe driving techniques before they'll let you go out on your own. Talk to them about a package and what's available.

For sportscars, there are plenty of options, and it is a busy market. Again, be aware of mileage restrictions, as most of the hire companies will limit you to something like 250 or 300 kilometres per day. Park Lane are specialists, and will put you in an Audi R8 from Dh2,500 per day, or an Aston Martin DB9 for around Dh4,000. They also offer 4x4s such as Range Rovers and Porsche Cayennes, but again will not let you go off-road.

In fact, there is almost nothing you can't rent in this part of the world. It may take a bit of time, a fat credit card and some careful negotiation, but if you want the thrill of driving a supercar, there's no better place to look than right here in the UAE. Enjoy the weekend with rental cars and through this car rental tips!

Source: Jonathan Castle,