The option of powering electronic devices in cars has been around for a while with the help of the 12-volt outlets. These outlets allow you to plugin electronics such as chargers, seat warmers, and even mini-fridges.
In Europe, some of the best cars still have this power source and it is still as useful as ever. They are placed in different locations in the car with different wattage ratings to power appliances and devices.
In this article, we’re looking at 6 European cars with 12-volt outlets and sockets. Find them all below!
Table of Contents
1. Peugeot 208
The 208 is now one of Europe’s best-selling cars in its class alongside the VW Polo. It has two 12-volt outlets with one in the center console just under the temperature control buttons.
This outlet on the Peugeot is rated at 120 watts, which is enough for small electronics and accessories. It has a cover you can lift up to connect adaptors or accessories.
In the European variants, the second outlet is located behind the side cover on the right side of the trunk. This particular socket also allows equipment rated at 120 watts or less to be powered.
Both outlets are easy to locate with a cover that indicates 12V. You can flip open the cover and connect your appliance. Mind you, we recommend not connecting devices that exceed the 120-watt power rating for the socket.
2. Volkswagen Polo
The VW Polo has two 12-volt outlets located in the center console and the right side of the trunk. These outlets also have a maximum power rating of 120 watts for devices and appliances.
It is important to note that if you connect two appliances simultaneously, they may exceed 120 watts. So, it is best to check the power rating of each appliance before connecting it to the socket.
Mind you, the European variant of the Volkswagen Polo’s 12-volt outlet will only work when the ignition is on. The user must be aware that appliances that are plugged in while the vehicle is off will only drain the battery.
In terms of accessibility, both the center console and trunk outlets are easy to locate with a 12V marker on them. Opening the cover reveals a cigarette lighter-type outlet to connect devices.
To avoid damage to devices and equipment, it is best to disconnect them before switching on the ignition. This prevents electrical surges and voltage fluctuations.
3. BMW X1
The BMW X1 is one of Europe’s beloved luxury mid-size SUVs. It has an ergonomic and spacious interior that features up to three 12-volt outlets for portable equipment and devices.
All three sockets are conveniently located in the center console, armrest, and inside the boot. It is not uncommon for luxury cars to have 12-volt outlets for back passengers, as is the case here.
Just like it is with many other European cars, the center console outlet is easily accessible in front of the two cup holders. It has a clearly marked cover which does not let in liquids when closed.
Back passengers can clearly access it just at the back of the armrest to connect compatible devices and equipment.
Moreover, there’s another 12-volt outlet in the trunk that also has a clearly marked cover and is located at the right rear side. Its location is convenient for bigger appliances like mini-fridges.
All three sockets are in the form of cigarette lighter sockets and have a power rating of 140 watts. Mind you, if you decide to use all the sockets at once, the total usage must not exceed 140 watts.
It is also important to note that the ignition needs to be on in order to power electrical devices using the sockets.
4. Fiat 500
With the Fiat 500’s 12-volt outlet, you’ll be able to power electrical devices that are rated at 160 watts. This is impressively bigger wattage than other cars in the same class.
The cigarette lighter-type socket is located in the center console, just to the left of the cupholder. Note that this is also a 13 Amp outlet and the fuse will blow if you connect an incompatible device to it.
To power electronic devices, you’ll have to switch on the ignition. The ignition switch can also be in the start position when the car is running or idling.
Unfortunately, there is only one 12-volt outlet for devices on the Fiat 500. Premium variants like the Fiat 500X have two outlets that can power devices at 160 watts maximum.
Mind you, there have been a lot of complaints about the socket not working. This is likely a fuse problem and can be fixed by just replacing the fuse. That said, make sure you check if Fiats are good for road trips.
5. Audi A3
Audi has made powering electronics in their A3 easier with a 12-volt outlet in the center console. It is clearly marked with a 12V sign just in front of the cupholder.
There are many variants of the Audi A3 that only have one outlet in the center console. Other variants might have two sockets with the other one located on the left side of the trunk.
Many people noticed that even though their manual clearly states that there is a second outlet, they were unable to find it. That is because the number of outlet available largely depends on which model you have and the certain market.
Those who had only one outlet could opt to retrofit another one in the trunk outlet. However, this can be an expensive undertaking and often needs a certified mechanic and electrician for a proper fit.
On the Audi A3, the outlet is a cigarette lighter-type socket and is clearly marked for convenience. You can use it to power devices like chargers and small appliances.
It is important to note that some models of the A3 from 2007 to 2011 had a problem, where the 12-volt outlet would just stop working. The fuse box showed power going to the outlet, but it was not giving power to the devices plugged in.
For better insights into the likely issues with this car, check our post on the 7 known issues with the Audi A3 here.
In case you have such an issue, note that problems with the fuse box or 12-volt outlets are best diagnosed and fixed by a registered Audi dealership or mechanic.
6. Volkswagen Golf
This German sedan is still one of Europe’s best-selling cars on the market and this is not a surprise. It features a comfortable interior with two cigarette lighter-type 12-volt outlets.
The front center console socket is located just in the lower part of the center console. This also acts as a cigarette lighter for tobacco products.
When pressed, it takes a few seconds for the lighter to pop out; so you can light a tobacco product in the glowing spiral. You can also insert the lighter back into the socket, which can also be used to power electronic devices.
The other outlet is situated on the right side of the trunk for larger appliances that can’t fit in the front seats. It also has a clearly marked 12V cover for protection and convenience.
Both the front and rear outlets have a maximum power rating of 120 watts, which will be adequate for small appliances and electronic devices.
What Rental Cars In Europe Offers 12-Volt Outlets?
Here are different rental cars in Europe that offer 12-volt outlets:
Small Rental Cars (Fiat 500, Fiat 500X, Volkswagen Polo, Peugeot 208, and Volkswagen GTI)
These smaller rental cars will have one or more 12-volt outlets for powering small devices and electronics.
Mind you, not all small rental cars will have this power and it is best to check with the rental company beforehand.
Models like the Fiat 500 will only have one socket, so if you need more sockets, an alternative option might be best.
Mid-Size and Luxury Cars: BMW X1, BMW X3, Mercedes Benz S-Class, Audi A3, and Audi S3
Rental companies will charge more for these vehicles, but they typically have three or more 12-volt outlets for all your electronics.
These models will also have more wattage appointed to the sockets. More wattage means customers can power bigger and more demanding appliances in their rental car.
Moreover, the rental company can even give the option to rent GPS devices that can be powered using the 12-volt socket in the car. This makes navigating new places easier when in a rental car.
In the light of all these, you might want to know if rental cars in Europe are automatic or manual.