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Car Buyers' Guide: Comfortable fit may require downsizing
By Jack Biddle • 23/11/2014
Fran has moved into a lifestyle/retirement village where the narrow garaging doesn't cater for her mid-sized Hyundai ix35 four-wheel drive.
"I like the height of the seating and the interior room it provides for the golf clubs but after scraping the paintwork recently I realise the need to 'narrow-down', so to speak," says Fran.
Her question is; do any smaller cars have height-adjustable seats? She has looked at the Nissan Juke but although it's shorter, it's only very marginally narrower than her Hyundai, so not a viable solution. Can Driven come up with any helpful ideas?
Budget: Around $26,000
Yes, as people downsize and move into smaller homes, garage space also tends to shrink. And often it's in much larger proportions to actual living space, and certainly more than what many have been used to. Driving in and out of narrow garages is usually okay but it's the getting in and out of the car or when moving objects around a parked vehicle that panel and paint damage can occur.
I believe your biggest challenge, Fran, is going to be deciding what matters most. Is it going to be the skinniest car with the highest seating position, the one with the best front and rear view, the one with the most interior space or the one that is most enjoyable to drive?
It may be near impossible to find one vehicle that ticks all those boxes. The one positive to downsizing will be an improvement in fuel economy and a cheaper retail price in comparison to a mid-sized SUV. Plus, I'm sure the popular Hyundai ix35 will fetch a good trade-in price so the changeover dollars may not be too bad. Don't expect the same power output or quite the same overall comfort levels if you do decide to downsize, however.
One nice-to-have feature to look for, especially in your situation, is finding a suitable vehicle with electric folding exterior mirrors. Being able to fold away the mirrors at the flick of a switch creates so much more garage space and makes it a lot easier to manoeuvre around a parked vehicle and lessens the risk of accidental contact with protruding mirrors and potential expensive damage. Front seat height adjusters are fairly standard these days but just how much height you actually need will be something you are going to have to physically try for yourself. Your height may determine if some vehicles are better than others.
Honda Jazz RS 1.5L
There are several options of the all-new Jazz but overall dimensions remain the same. Nothing beats this vehicle for interior space with a boot capacity of 369 litres so the golf clubs will fit in with plenty of room to spare. In width, it measures 1695mm in comparison to the current Series II ix35's 1820mm. That equates to an extra 125mm of extra breathing space in the garage. In addition it has electric folding mirrors. Power output for the 1.5-litre ($26,900) is 97kW while claimed fuel consumption is 5.4L/100km.
Suzuki Swift RS
The 1.4-litre Swift (70kW and 6.2L/100km) has the exact same width measurement (1695mm) as the Honda but does not have the electric folding mirrors. Priced at $26,500, the Swift misses out on interior room in comparison with the Honda, especially cargo (210 litres) and passenger space where things could get a bit tight if more than a set of golf clubs and passengers need to be accommodated.
Hyundai i20 GLS 1.4L ($26,990)
If you are enjoying your current Hyundai experience, then check out the well-appointed GLS i20 (1.4-litre 73kW and 5.9l/100km). It is wider than the Jazz and Swift at 1710mm (+15mm) but it does come standard with electric folding mirrors. It sits in the middle of the Honda and the Suzuki in terms of boot space with 295 litres. Priced from $26,990, you could trade in the ix35 for an i20.
Driven recommends: When you have narrowed down the list, make sure you take a demonstrator model home for a sleepover to ensure it provides the extra garage space you are looking for.