Andrew Porter read with interest a previous Car Choice about comfortable seating. He points out that we did not state the height of the driver. He has never had a car with 50mm head clearance; the best was a Citroën Picasso. He is 6ft 4in (which is taller than average) and his wife is 5ft 4in. He needs a car for regular 500-mile round trips which is capable of seating four adults, but finds that very few meet the bill other than giant MPVs. He currently drives a Peugeot 406, but with his head touching the headlining.
Driving can be very uncomfortable, especially for tall people such as Andrew. Registered osteopaths have provided some tips to help make sure a car is the right height. With the seat in the normal driving position - a position where the clutch can be fully depressed without stretching and the are hips well back into the seat - make a fist with the left hand keeping the thumb to the side of the index finger. The depth of such a fist will measure about 50mm and it should be possible to place the fist on the crown of your head. If it is only possible to insert the flat of the hand between the roof and your head, then there is insufficient headroom.
Sun-roofs rob a vital few inches from the roof height and Andrew should obviously avoid a car fitted with one. But the complex construction, safety features and soundproofing in modern cars have all contributed to lower roofs. As Andrew realises, there really is no substitute for sitting in the car and adjusting the seat. But it is easy to appreciate that he does not want to spend the rest of his driving life behind the wheel of a people carrier, so here are some suggestions.
A car for the heart
So Andrew liked the Citroën Picasso, and quite rightly, too; it is a very spacious and comfortable car. Equally comfy and capacious is the next model up in the big, bland shape of the C5. When it was launched, the C5 was highlighted as having a significantly higher roof than its direct rivals. Whereas the Ford Mondeo was just 1429mm high, the C5 had a taller profile of 1476mm and noticeably more room inside. With a higher door aperture, the C5 is easier to get in and out of. The other good news is that the level of equipment is very comprehensive and prices are very low.
Unfortunately, that means values fall very fast and the desirability of saloon and petrol models is also very low. If depreciation is an issue for Andrew, he should not buy new and consider a nearly new model or one that is a couple of years old. Citroën Retail World (0208 987 4000) had a range of C5s starting at £6,495 for a 1.8 LX hatchback and rising to £11,495 for a delivery mileage LX estate, which would have cost more than £16,000 new.
A car for the head
As for the rest of the cars available in the UK that aren't people-carrier shaped, it is up to Andrew to compare and contrast. Perhaps a visit to a car supermarket might be the easiest way of trying a lot of cars for size. The new Vectra is a comfortable and spacious car which seems to have a lot of room for the taller driver, especially because the steering wheel adjusts for reach.
The Honda Accord's seat is set very low and is very adjustable and comfy. Andrew should also consider the current crop of family cars, such as the Toyota Avensis and Nissan Primera, which have more head room than his 406.
However, the very nice Mazda 6 saloon has a low roof that makes getting in a bit more difficult for some. The Ford Focus C-Max is an overgrown Focus and, technically, a compact people carrier, but it looks far better proportioned than most of them. Its seat adjustment is easy and it has excellent access for a taller driver.Reuse content