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I (nearly) maxed out my rental car on the Autobahn

Apparently I was 1mph short of hitting my Renault Kadjar’s official top speed of 126mph. I was just trying to hit 200kph (ended up seeing 201), and didn’t realize until afterwards that I was just 1mph short.

Illustration for article titled I (nearly) maxed out my rental car on the Autobahn

Anyway, here were some of my takeways from the Autobahn:

  • It’s extremely civilized and orderly, because German drivers’ lane discipline is phenomenal
  • The sections with speed limits are all in sensible locations (cities, sharp bends, interchanges, etc)
  • 90% of people going 100+mph are in Mercedes wagons (usually 4-cylinder models, not AMGs like you might expect)
  • Most people cruise between 130-150kph (81-93mph) in the unlimited zones, even though they’re allowed to drive faster.
  • Everybody drives a German car, or a German-owned subsidiary (Skoda, Seat, Opel)
  • Everybody obeys the speed limit; even the wagons going 100+ slam on the brakes when the speed limit returns (as opposed to just coasting gently down to speed)

My biggest takeaway, though, is how much of a difference the engine/transmission combo makes. Last year I rented a diesel/auto XC60 (182hp/295lb-ft), which just felt slow AF at any speed and REFUSED to rev. This time I had a much less powerful manual/petrol Kadjar (129hp/151lb-ft), and OMG what a HUGE difference. So much peppier, faster and fun, despite being an otherwise boring crossover with comparably less power/torque than the Volvo.

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