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AVIS Signature Series Review

by Christopher O'Keeffe March 25, 2019 1 Comment

AVIS Signature Series Review

AVIS has introduced what I would call affordable Luxury. In the past, if you wanted to hire something other than a Toyota Camry at the Airport, you were looking at forking out an arm and a leg for a prestige car from a boutique firm.  Now, assuming you are not looking for a Lamborghini or Aston Martin, then AVIS has introduced its Signature Series—an excellent range of entry-level Mercedes and BMWs in a variety of different classes. The Signature Range is available in Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney, Perth, Adelaide and the Gold Coast. 

The Fleet

The current Signature fleet features nine different options, which you can see below. None of them is going to come with an AMG or M badge or in fact more than a 3-litre engine, but they are all turbo-charged and provide a very enjoyable driving experience at a fair price.

avis signature fleet

I have used the AVIS Signature Series three times now, and every time I have collected the cars from Melbourne Tullamarine Airport. In the first instance it was a Mercedes A180, then the Mercedes C200 and last time a BMW X5 30d. On the whole, I have been pleased both with AVIS and in particular the Signature Series cars, and I would like to share some insights into what I have found useful when using this service. 

25 the Magic Number

The first thing that you need to know about AVIS’s Signature Series is that you cannot book a car months in advance—the Signature Fleet only becomes available 25 days out from the day of booking. As I write this article, it is March 21, and the first date that I can see when I can select a Signature Car from Tullamarine is April 15. So, you will have to be patient and put a note in your calendar to remind yourself when you can make your booking—basically minus 25 days from the day you want the car.   

To pay or not to pay (upfront)?

There is a discount for paying upfront, but unlike some hotels where the difference can be massive between paying at the time of booking and paying at checkout, AVIS is very reasonable. On this BMW 330i, the difference would be $3.47 for a one-day rental. 

As a rough guide, the difference works out to be 3 to 4 dollars a day for the length of rental. I am going to use this 330i as the basis for the rest of the review, as that way I can do my research for my next trip at the same time. 

The Optional Extras

Choosing which car you would like and whether to pay now or later is just the start of the car rental decision-making process, and it is the decisions that you make next, under what AVIS terms as Recommended Extras, where you can save a lot of hassle.

1. Child Seats 

AVIS offers both safety seats and booster for children for an additional $8.00 a day. As this is a feature that I need when travelling with my daughter, I can say that AVIS Australia provides a good quality child seat and they will have it installed on your arrival. This is not always the case with other companies, and there is nothing less relaxing than getting off of a plane with the family only to have to work out how to install a strange child seat into a new car.

avis signature series car seat

Also, the last time we used AVIS they were happy to swap the seat over from one side of the car to the other at short notice. For some reason the AVIS installer had decided to instal the car seat behind the driver’s seat, and as we did not want to spend two hours explaining to a tied toddler why she should not kick the “nice” seat in front of her, it was much easier to place the passenger seat out of range of her legs.

2. GPS

All of the AVIS Signature Fleet should come with inbuilt GPS, so it is not necessary to include GPS Navigation for an additional $12 a day. That being said, this is not always the case internationally, as last year on a visit to the UK we rented a Mercedes C200 from AVIS UK, identical to one which I had previously rented in Australia.

The Australian C200 came with GPS enabled, but, in the UK the same C200’s GPS had been disabled so that I then had to rent a dash-mounted GPS unit from AVIS UK for an additional £10 a day. I can tell you I was not happy about that, and some choice words were spoken as we left Bristol Airport. The take away from this is that AVIS Australia is more generous than AVIS UK, in that they include GPS as a standard feature on more models, but for total peace of mind, you can always contact them to confirm that the car you want to rent will have GPS included.

3. Additional Driver

The only other recommended extra I have added in the past is the additional driver option for my wife. An additional driver will cost you $5 a day; however, I have just noticed that if you are an AVIS Preferred customer, then this is feature is free.

It is free to sign up for the AVIS Preferred program, and there are some good benefits which mostly fall under the heading of convenience.

AVIS Preferred

I signed up to AVIS Preferred, as one of the benefits that come with my American Express Platinum Business Card is that when you sign up as an AVIS Preferred customer you are supposed to get a complimentary one-car-class upgrade (subject to availability) and increased savings on car rentals worldwide using a special Amex promo code.

Unfortunately, this has not really worked out for me as the Amex promo code for AVIS does not seem to apply to the Signature range, as it has never resulted in a better price or an upgrade either in Australia or overseas. You are better off keeping a look out for offers on the AVIS website.

Being an AVIS Preferred member, however, has sped up pick-ups and returns and has helped me track my bookings, so I would recommend joining, if only for the free additional driver benefit. 


The cars that I have rented from AVIS Signature have been practically brand new, all three of them had less than 3000km on the clock and were all the latest models. The X5, in particular, was bursting with features. It had everything and the kitchen sink thrown in: heads-up display, M tech styling, electric blinds, seat heating, auto dipping high-beams, it even had the adaptive cruise control with stop-go function. In hindsight, the adaptive cruise control was not so good, as when I got home, I almost drove up the back of someone since I had gotten so used to the car stopping by itself.

avis signature series X5 interior

The only criticism I will make of the cars is that the interiors could have been a bit cleaner—ask anyone who knows me, and they will say I like things clean. There were marks and prints on the consoles which could easily have been removed with a quick wipe down, and the vacuum cleaner could have had more of an outing. But if that is my only gripe, it is not a big one.


One of the biggest fears I have about renting a car is, upon returning it, being told that some piece of damage that I have not caused is being attributed to me, and restitution is being made from my credit card. I must admit to having been tempted to use some smaller car rental agencies that offer high-end vehicles for rates that are much lower than AVIS. But after reading a few reviews from irate customers who have been fleeced under just such a scenario, I quickly returned to safer ground (AVIS) as I believe the maxim of 'if something is too good to be true...' is generally a sound one.

avis signature series X5 external

I am delighted to say that AVIS has never given me any problems in this department. In most instances, the vehicle condition report has been accurately filled out by their representative, and if not, there has never been a problem with me adding amendments. The Signature vehicles I have rented have all been in excellent condition, the most I could pick up has been a minor scuff here or there, light scratching or a rubbed alloy wheel. AVIS makes a point on their documentation that they do not include scratches of less than a certain depth in millimetres, which is good, as judging from the cars' paintwork I would guess that they get pushed through automated car cleaners from time to time. I can understand that this is probably for the sake of convenience, but the thought of automated car washes makes my skin crawl, like nails on a chalkboard.

avis signature series X5 front on

So my advice is that while I have never had a problem with AVIS, make sure to go around the vehicle before driving off and give it a good once over, noting down anything you can see on the condition report. Some people recommend taking pictures, but I will leave that up to you

Value for money 

I started this article by saying that AVIS Signature was an affordable luxury. Well, that being the case, let’s see how it stacks up against AVIS’s standard offering. Now, the most likely scenario under which I would rent would be picking up on a Friday and dropping off on a Monday, so I will use this time frame for the example. Here we can see that a BMW 330i will cost $389.84 for three nights, picking up Friday at 9 am and dropping off Monday at 9 am.

For the same length of time, a Toyota Camry will cost $162.18, but I would like to think that a 330i has the legs on a Camry. A more reasonable comparison would be with a Holden Commodore RS Sedan, which costs $328.99, a difference of just over 60 dollars.

And when you get into the SUV range it actually turns out cheaper to rent a BMW X5 than a Toyota Kluger, which makes no sense to me just based on the value of the car, as an X5 30d is $112,990 and a Kluger even in its most expensive variant—the Grande 4x4—is a $65,500 car.

I know everyone’s interpretation of value for money will be different, but in my book, I believe the AVIS Signature Series is really good bang for your buck when you look at what else you can rent for a similar price from the same company.

Limited Kilometers

The only limitation to the Signature range that I can see is that it comes with the potential for increased variable costs, while the standard range has known fixed costs—sorry, I trained as an economist, and old habits die hard. What I mean is that if I rented the Holden Commodore and for some reason decided to drive from Tullamarine back to Perth, I would not incur an additional charge for the kilometres racked up as it comes with unlimited kilometres.

The BMW on the other hand would become more expensive the further I travelled as for every kilometer over the included six hundred I would be charged an additional $0.30 cents plus fees and taxes.

So, my advice would be to work out how far you are likely to travel and determine whether this is going to significantly impact the cost of the rental if you select a car with limited kilometres. Also, the number of included kilometres for the Signature Series cars is dependent on the number of days rented: a one-day rental comes with 100km allowance, but this 3-day rental came with 600km. Make sure to check this when you are booking, to avoid any unpleasant shocks.


I would be very happy to recommend AVIS Signature; I personally have been very impressed by the quality of the vehicles and the high levels of customer service. If you are looking for a nice set of wheels for a driving holiday, then one of AVIS’s brand new BMWs of Mercedes is definitely worth a look.


  • Trusted company
  • Great Cars
  • Easy to use service
  • Value for money


  • No unlimited kilometres
  • Cars could be cleaner inside  

Christopher O'Keeffe
Christopher O'Keeffe


1 Response


September 05, 2019

Hey Chris glad to have found this write up. We are exactly about to do the same with a choice from AVIS Signature Series Group XW in about 2 weeks time. Hope it lives to our expectation!

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