Small cars for tall people – state of the nation July 2013

My PRIMARY method for adding a vehicle to my “to buy” list is based on whether I can sit upright with good posture and still see out of the windscreen. I don’t care if I have to slide the seat all the way back and down, if I can sit upright and see, it’s on my list. If the only vehicle I could buy on the market cost $50k and was bright pink - I’d have a good look around the second hand market, then buy that pink money pit.

Assumptions:

  • I’m 205cm or 6’9″ tall.
    • Sitting on the floor, the top of my head is just over 100cm off the ground.
    • I’m not willing to drive with my spine squashed any longer - no slouching!
    • The laid-back gangsta look’s not for me, I drive upright and in control.
  • I live in Australia - so that limits the market slightly - though less in recent years.
  • I want to spend well under $40k. I’m single and looking to buy a house in the next 12 months. In unrelated news - are there any rich, sane, geeky women with a thing for tall guys reading this?
  • Space:
    • Seats for at least four adults
    • A decent amount of cargo space
  • Engine
    • No more than 5 cylinders, but realistically I’m looking at 4, because… what is there with 5?
    • At least moderate towing capability.
  • Manual transmission, small cars and autos are horrible. CVT technology’s all well and good, but not until the manufacturers convince people that they don’t need the stepped-revs to emulate gears.

As for what I currently drive? It’s a 2001 AU Ford Fairmont, Series 3. It’s nearly right for me, but unless the seat’s in the aforementioned gangsta pose AND I slouch, I smoosh my head and see nothing but bonnet. It’s an automatic six cylinder with over 200k on the clock and a poor service history, which means it uses about 55lt of fuel to go 400km on a good day. Suffice to say, I want something a little less thirsty with a lot more head room.

I’m going to make this short. _Look at JeepSubaru or Nissan._ If you want more information, read on.

Ford

Escape, Fiesta, Mondeo and Focus, all lack in the head room department.

Holden

The Colorado and Captiva are both out because of head room. Go any larger and I’m out of my price/engine range. Smaller is just tiny, cheap and horrible. Daewoo? Really?.

Honda

Everything they sell is expensive, hideous and/or tiny. Sorry Honda - you’re been out of the running for as long as I can remember.

Jeep Patriot

Hyundai

ix30, 35, whatever number they come up with, the price is good but they don’t come up with head room. 🙁

Jeep

****The Patriot and Compass are in the right price range, but the former is the only one with the goods height wise. I’m a big fan of this seemingly Mary-Poppins style folder of space. It doesn’t look terribly large on the outside, but it’s got loads of room on the inside. I’ve driven the 2.0lt 4×2 Automatic (CVT) and while the performance wasn’t anything to be excited about, it certainly wasn’t wheezy. Starting at $25k RRP on the road, it’s what I’m looking to purchase.

Mazda

Great cars, unfortunately no head room. The Mazda 3 and 6 fit the bill otherwise. I also tried the CX-5 and BT-50 with no luck.

Mitsubishi

Build for small people, the Lancer has no headroom and neither do the Outlander or Triton.

Nissan Pulsar Hatch

Nissan

The Pulsar is a lovely little car with gobs of headroom, good visibility and a punchy little 1.8lt engine strapped to a six speed manual gearbox. This is the car I’d buy if I just needed a town car. The base model this month is selling for $20k on the road and is the small car they should have been selling instead of that stupid Tiida thing they tried to force on us. It was the first car I test drove on my giant trip around Brisbane last weekend - their website offered me a $50 BP voucher to come down and drive one - but they needn’t have offered me anything, it set the standard for the rest of the day.

Unfortunately the X-Trail was a big disappointment to me - after taking the Pulsar for a test drive  I was excited that Nissan might love me and accept me regardless of height. They didn’t. It possibly has less head room than any other car I tested. 🙁

Skoda

The Yeti won car of the year and its promotional pictures make it look good. Once you see it in real life, it’s ugly as sin and under powered. Didn’t get past the ugly, the lack of dealer availability and the ugly.

Suzuki

Swift/Vitara/Sx4 all seem to have the same head height, not enough - great cars if you’re under 2m tall though.

Subaru

The Forester and Outback are my dream vehicles. They have plenty of head room, and the vertical height of the windscreen is lovely. The latest model Forester has a slightly lower windscreen but it’s still great. The Forester would be my first choice if it wasn’t pushing the budget so close to the edge - but I’m

Subaru Forester

Toyota

Rav4 - just on the headroom - vertically. If I didn’t sit perfectly still or drove on anything but a perfectly flat road, I’d end up with a concussion from a poorly located grab-handle. The Hilux solved this by not having one in the head space, but was $44k or so.

Volkswagen

No to the Golf, headroom again. Surprisingly the GTI and GTD had enough headroom for me. Unfortunately they wanted at least $45k, and I couldn’t quite see forward out of the windscreen without hunching. Beautiful cars though!



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