The Autobahn in Germany is shrouded in mystique. Outsiders rarely understand the many Autobahn rules and regulations surrounding this famous expressway, due in large part to fables of vehicles traveling in excess of 200mph on what is incorrectly understood as a "lawless" highway system. If you've ever asked the question "What is the Autobahn?" we'll answer that question (and many others) here - read on!
Driving on the Autobahn is thrilling, but unbeknownst to many travelers, the Autobahn expressway does in fact have speed limits in place on much of the territory it covers, as well as a police presence to maintain the expertly crafted roadway infrastructure. Conversely, there are portions of the Autobahn - mostly outside of major population centers - which post suggested speed limits where drivers can legally take their vehicles to v-max and approach light-speed.
In an attempt to shine some light on the mysterious Autobahn road system, Auto Europe has compiled a short list of Germany driving tips, to ensure your experience driving the Autobahn in a rental car in Germany goes off without a hitch.
When entering the Autobahn near larger cities, a la Munich, Frankfurt, and Berlin, speed limits do apply. Depending on the urban area in which you're driving the Autobahn, the speed limits range from 80 k/ph to 130 k/ph (50mph-80mph), these regulatory speeds are in place to prevent an excess of potentially fatal car-accidents in portions of the Autobahn characterized by dangerous curves, heavy traffic, and major interchanges.
As you leave the more congested areas of the Autobahn, the German government has implemented a system described as a zone of "dynamic speed limits." Here electronic signs display the speed limits and can be adjusted to reflect changes in weather, road conditions, or heavy traffic. Once you venture even further outside of these dynamic zones the Autobahn really opens up and drivers are allowed to travel at their own pace, with speed limits being a mere suggestion. A handful of different signs are used to mark the variety of speed limit regulations, and further information can be found on Auto Europe's German road signs page.
Like many other highway, freeway, and expressway systems around the world, the Autobahn in Germany has a series of regulations to facilitate the flow of heavy and potentially high-speed traffic. Most rules and regulations are fairly straightforward, though some may seem strange or foreign to an outsider traveling along the Autobahn for the first time.
Though it isn't a required Autobahn rule, under most circumstances, it is advisable to stay in the right lane as much as possible when traveling on the Autobahn, especially if it is your first time driving this legendary roadway. The left lane is used primarily for passing and for vehicles that are traveling exceedingly fast. In the off chance that you do get caught poking along in the left lane, drivers behind you will probably flash their lights as a signal for you to move back to the right, and let them through. Though it's not mandatory for you to keep right all the time, driving the Autobahn can be a daunting task to undertake, and the mellower pace of the right lane will help guarantee a stress-free travel experience.
The Autobahn expressway system covers the majority of Germany, and therefore has been equipped with rest stops every 40-60km. These service areas are usually outfitted with a fuel station, restaurant, small convenience store, bathrooms, and telephones, though some even have hotels available. Because driving on the Autobahn can be a mentally engaging, and tiring task, it is advisable to stop and rest for a short time every 100km or so, to cultivate your awareness and to help prevent accidents.
Germany is known for its vehicle engineering prowess, and being the home to BMW, Mercedes Benz, Porsche, and Audi, has solidified its role as a premier car manufacturing country. While driving along the Autobahn it is fairly commonplace to be passed by someone driving hundreds of miles per hour, in a sports car that most of us only dream about owning. Some travelers will want to drive fast and push the limits like some of the local, experienced drivers - that's part of the allure of driving the Autobahn after all. In spite of the appeal of pushing the limits on the world's most famous motorway, Auto Europe recommends that you don't for safety reasons.
If you must drive fast, it's important that you choose the proper rental car to make the most out of the experience. Fortunately for you, Auto Europe offers a wide selection of luxury and exotic cars, perfect for those with a lead foot.
Want to keep up with the locals in the left lane? Pick up a Ferrari 458 Italia, Lamborghini Aventador, or Mercedes Benz SLS, all available from Auto Europe at a variety of locations scattered throughout Germany.
Rent a Ferrari 458 Italia:
Easily one of the most iconic modern Ferraris, and commonly used as a standard against which all competing super-cars are judged, the 458 Italia is to vehicle engineering what Rembrandt was to painting: first class. The Italia is powered by a naturally aspirated 4.5 Litre V8, producing a hair raising 562 horse power, and an equally impressive 398 foot pounds of torque, all powered to the rear wheels. Transmission is run by a 7 speed, dual-clutch gear box, managed by paddle shifters attached to the steering wheel, allowing the driver to power through the gears in quick succession - Ferrari's 458 Italia can muster 0-60mph in 3.3 seconds on the way to a staggering top speed of 202mph. The Ferrari 458 is a near-perfect choice for experiencing the Autobahn to its fullest; this vehicle's raw power and drivability combine for a driving experience which is equal parts safe and fun.
Rent a Lamborghini Aventador:
Looking for something a bit more brash than the tame-by-comparison Ferrari 458 Italia? Lamborghini's newest battle commander, the Aventador, is just what you're looking for. Lamborghini has always been a front runner in aggressive, futuristic vehicle design, and the Aventador is no exception. This Lambo's 4WD is powered by a monstrous 6.5 Litre V12, producing 690 horse power, coupled with 510 foot pounds of torque, creating what sounds like a hellish cacophony of roaring lions. With engine specs this other-worldly, it only makes sense that the Aventador is blindingly fast, going from nil to 60 in under 3 seconds, and with a top speed over 217mph.
Auto Europe recommends the Aventador to experienced drivers - it is significantly harder to drive than its Ferrari counterpart, partly because of the limited visibility afforded by the vehicle's smaller windows. Experienced drivers will appreciate this as part of the Aventador's stunning design - it is part of what makes this super-car looks like the devil's bat mobile. Traveling the Autobahn in a Lamborghini Aventador is the ultimate driver's experience and if you're only planning to drive the Autobahn once in your life, we think this is the car to do it in.
Do you have what it takes to pilot the powerful Lamborghini Aventador? If so call Auto Europe today at 1-888-223-5555 to reserve yours.
Rent a Mercedes Benz SLS AMG:
If you value sophistication and comfort over the unbridled speed and power offered by Auto Europe's Lamborghini and Ferrari offerings, the Mercedes Benz SLS AMG shines through as a luxurious alternative - ideal for the discerning driver. Experience the Autobahn in classic German style when you slip behind the wheel of the SLS where you'll enjoy a unique combination of elegance and power. All the modern refinements that you have come to expect from Mercedes Benz, are coupled with a down right nasty, naturally aspirated, 6.2 Litre V8, powering this exciting rear wheel drive roadster with 563 horse power and 479 foot pounds of torque. 0-60mph is accomplished in a mere 3.2 seconds, and your precision-engineered rental can reach top speed of a heart-pounding 204 mph. Why not experience Germany's world-renowned Autobahn the way it was meant to be driven: behind the wheel of Mercedes' quintessential super-car: the SLS AMG.
Interested in learning more about driving the Autobahn or exploring some of Germany's most popular cities?
Browse Auto Europe's complete Germany travel guide for helpful information about local sights and attractions, car rental insurance requirements, and much more: