Are you a short driver? You need to check out these cars.
Short people problems: when so many cars make you feel like this. (Photo by GOLFX)
Height isn’t something most Singaporeans really have to factor in when buying a car. The average height here is 165.5cm (5.43ft) across the board: around 171cm for men, and 160cm for women. (Fun fact: we’re the tallest in the ASEAN region!) But if you’re among the more––ahem––vertically challenged, your options are a little more limited. And sure, short is relative, but at a pint-sized 155cm (5.08ft) let me be the first to say, I understand your pain.
Why is being short a potential problem when it comes to driving? It comes down to four things: visibility, height, access, comfort.
Can you look over the hood and all around you? Do you need to sit on a cushion just to be able to do that? Can you adjust the seat upwards for visibility, but be able to reach the pedals anyway without being too close to the steering wheel? Are the pedals adjustable? Does it have a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel? Are the windows and windshields big enough to allow you to see clearly all around, or if not, does the car have cameras that help?
Then there’s vehicle height. Being smaller in stature tends to preclude you driving larger cars out of sheer practical concerns. Hoisting yourself into a Land Cruiser on the daily when you’re just 150cm is a bit of a chore, never mind handling a huge car and squeezing it into tight spaces! Having a car you can simply step into is easier and safer. But on the other hand, SUVs or crossovers with a greater ride height give you better views of the road ahead, behind, and to the side. It’s a real balancing act here.
What about the boot? With larger cars where the hatch opens upwards, you might be able to open it, but not everyone has a taller person on hand to help you close it, and jumping each time to slam it shut is so undignified. On the other hand, if you can wave your foot under the back bumper to automatically shut the hatch, that’s a big plus.
‘Short’ is a relative concept––personally I prefer thinking of myself as ‘travel-sized’––but at the end of the day, many cars aren’t all that accommodating for those of us who are more, um, space-efficient compared to everyone else. For argument’s sake, if you’re under 162cm, these vehicles should be high on your car shopping priorities.
2016 Subaru Forester. Photo by The NRMA
Not only is Subaru a rainbow-friendly brand, their Forester has long been an overwhelming favourite with shorter people. The 2019 and 2020 models are the ones to check out: besides being pretty solid and reliable family-friendly cars, the Foresters have great visibility in all directions from the comfortable driver’s seat (thank you low dashboard), low step-in height, and a spacious, airy cabin. It’s all about making things easy to reach: no more awkward stretching to reach the touch screen, and for shorter parents, reaching behind to secure child safety seats and adjust seat belts just became a lot easier.
One optional upgrade is to make the driver’s seat ‘10-way power adjustable,’ meaning you can move it in a bunch of different directions (up, down, back, front, etc) to just how you need it. Adding a ‘power rear liftgate’ means you can even adjust the height to which the hatch opens, so you won’t have to jump every time you want to slam the back hatch shut. How great is that?
Honda cars are affordable, reliable, and rank high when it comes to fuel economy. That’s a no-brainer. But the Honda Fit in particular is a fantastic choice for shorter people; the 2019 and 2020 models are the ones to look out for. This subcompact hatchback is diminutive and yet––as we’ve written before––surprisingly capacious for its size. We continue to love its practical boot capacity and bright, airy interior.
As the name suggests, it just ‘fits’ pretty much anywhere. It’s easy for shorter drivers to handle, and also easy to gauge where the car is in relation to everything else on the road––crucial when you’re parking! Manual seat height adjustment means maximum customisability for visibility, and along with a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, you’ll be able to find the perfect driving position for yourself. If that’s not enough, there’s a blind spot monitoring system to eliminate any uncertainties when you’re on the road––shorter drivers are likely to have a greater blind spot than taller drivers.
2020 Mazda 3
If you’re looking for a compact car, the 2020 Mazda 3 is one of the best out there for shorter drivers. We love the overall user experience. With its relatively low step-in height, getting in and out is super easy, without feeling at all cramped. It comes with a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and the optional upgrade to the power-adjustable driver’s seat is well worth the extra money.
Most importantly, the Mazda 3 is just really fun to drive: agile handling, efficient fuel economy, and a smart, well-designed interior makes this car sporty yet practical for your day-to-day. You can buy this as a sedan or a hatchback, depending on your preferred car style; and if it’s a hatchback, the rear liftgate isn’t impossibly high. Again, no jumping to reach and slam it shut!
(Incidentally, it’s not just the Mazda 3. Some of their other models are pretty great for shorter drivers too.)
Of course, shorter drivers aren’t just limited to affordable compact cars. If you’re in the market for something a little more, well, upmarket, the Lexus ES cars are for you. Not only are the driver’s seats fully adjustable, they’re remarkably comfortable, with fantastic lower back support (check out the story behind how the engineers designed the seats). That’s no mean design feat. There’s also the height-adjustable front shoulder belt anchors, and the tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel so necessary for us pocket-sized drivers.
That being said, the Lexus ES isn’t just for shorter drivers. All its other qualities make this luxury car a perennial favourite with drivers of all heights and stripes: it’s super stylish, comfortable, reliable, spacious. It drives beautifully, and has a smorgasbord of safety features from forward collision warning to automatic braking. They even introduced an all-wheel drive version for 2021. What’s not to love?
2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class (7th Generation)
Ah, yes––the aspirational Mercedes Benz S-Class. The brand still has plenty of old-world glamour surrounding it, and anyone who takes the S-Class out for a spin is sure to agree. This best-selling luxury sedan offers a fabulous driving experience regardless of your height (how rare is that?). It’s powerful. The leather upholstery is supremely comfortable (god we love it). 10-way adjustable front seat? Nah, this has a heated and cooled 16-way adjustable front seat with memory and massages.
We could go on and on about features like the keyless entry, surround view parking camera, ambient lighting system, rear seat airbags using ambient air... but you should probably just try it out for yourself. This car is expensive, but you sure get what you pay for.
If you need the right car for your height, we’re here to help. Why not take one of our cars out for a spin? Head on over to ST Auto for a test drive with our friendly sales staff. Call +65 6464 9098 or email us at email@example.com