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to be wary of driving a larger car?

(65 Posts)
sherazade Tue 01-Jan-13 09:04:58

Have been driving a smallish peugeot 307 which finally went bust sad

In the early stages of my driving after passing my test early 2012 I managed to scratch and scrape the car a bit blush blush (mainly parking and bumping into walls and gates). I still dislike parking and driving in tight spaces.

DH and I share a car. He wants us to buy a vauxhall Astra as he has driven them for years and says they've never let him down, and we're very limited with choice because I can only drive an automatic and we have a very narrow budget, so there are quite a few Astras available that fit our criteria, except I am really wary of driving a car much bigger than I am used to given that i'm not the best driver , I'm also quite tiny ( I do have to prop myself up with cushions in the driver's seat so I can have a decent view, FWIW am barely 5 feet tall and wear age 11-12 clothing). I would LOVE a little micra but DH's work requirements means he travels all over the country and does ALOT of mileage and needs a bigger car.

SO AIBU to be really wary of driving a bigger car or is it fairly easy to get used to?

Northernlebkuchen Tue 01-Jan-13 11:01:31

I agree you need some more lessons to improve your confidence. I passed my test in 2011 in a Honda Jazz and then immediately started driving our family car - a VW touran. Now that IS a big car and we've both emerged after 18 months unscathed. I am very careful when manouvering it and I know I'm not that skilled sometimes but I get by and I'm getting better. If I couldn't cope at all I would have got my instructor to give me some more lessons. An astra is not a big car. YOu should be able to contemplate it without horror.

cozietoesie Tue 01-Jan-13 11:05:23

I believe that larger cars are actually safer as long as you're not a mad racer and do the sort of driving you always did. A larger engine and faster top speed means accordingly better brakes, better suspension, better steering etc etc. (They might also require higher rated tyres but that expense is a downside you have to live with.)

And you'll get used to the larger vehicle in terms of parking etc.

I wouldn't buy a Vauxhall Astra though - maybe you all should look around a little more?

riverboat Tue 01-Jan-13 11:07:29

YANBU to be wary, but I think it would be U to insist you get your way since its true that a very small car won't be comfortable for your DH on long journeys. And its not like he's proposing a 4x4!

I have a mini-size car (twingo) which I love. Last time I rented a car I had to get something mid-size for various reasons, and I was terrified driving it on narrow country roads and in tight lane systems! But it was OK, ie I didnt damage anything. Even though I still much prefer driving small cars, that experience made me think my next car should probably be something a bit bigger, as I don't want to go through life only feeling confident driving tiny cars...

Wrigglebum Tue 01-Jan-13 11:09:37

Compromise- Astra sized car but get parking sensors?

Lovecat Tue 01-Jan-13 11:14:26

Yy to parking sensors. I went from a mini metro to a focus saloon and got the garage to fit them on, I was so paranoid about parking. But within six months I was fine. and I prefer a big car now - DH has got a mahoosive estate car and I love driving it!

quoteunquote Tue 01-Jan-13 11:14:49

anything Japanese will fit you well and be reliable, Toyota automatics are brilliant.

Smeggnog Tue 01-Jan-13 11:16:52

Not quite the same, but I went on holiday in the US several years ago, and we hired a massive automatic 4x4 SUV thing. Prior to that I had only driven tiny cars (think Peugout 205, Renault Clio etc). I got used to it in about 5 minutes flat, even driving on the 'wrong' side of the road. I've since driven more big cars in different countries, and it's given me confidence in my driving abilities.

In fact, if you're small a higher driving position may be better for you.

Artemis206 Tue 01-Jan-13 11:35:27

Totally understand. I drive a Peugeot 206 and have driven DH's Vectra once. I just wasn't comfortable with the size difference.

Saying that though, we used to share an Astra years ago, and I loved it, didn't find it huge at all.

Another one suggesting some 'improves' lessons, I'm afraid.... I was a bit hmm at your admission you've had a few bumps and scrapes whilst manoeuvring.

Seriously, an Astra is properly easy to drive - I've had a few. They're easy to park, and you can see quite well out of them. My advanced driving instructor did also say to me that no-one should rely on parking sensors.... If you can't park adequately without them, some practice is needed! But, try a test drive in an Astra and see what you think. Good luck!

amicissimma Tue 01-Jan-13 12:03:21

IME, it's not the size of the car that makes manoeuvring harder/easier, it's the visibility and way it feels. If you are short but he is keen on an Astra, have a look at the Meriva, which is an Astra with a higher driving position.

Whatever you get, make sure you have a good test drive, including tight manoeuvres (carefully!)

A few extra lessons, concentrating on the things you find difficult could do wonders for your confidence, though.

YuleBritannia Tue 01-Jan-13 12:43:50

Couldn't you go to a car dealership pretend that you want to buy and ask for a test drive in one?

financialwizard Tue 01-Jan-13 13:13:26

I passed my test in 1995 and can say that I was not a nervous driver at all, and never really thought about the size of car before buying it tbh. I now drive a beast of an S60 which has the turning circle of a whale but I love it.

I know there are people who are nervous on the roads, and maybe in your situation I would recommend a few advance driver lessons just to make you a little more confident.

TheCatIsEatingIt Tue 01-Jan-13 13:14:54

I've always had little cars, but when I have to drive DH's big car, it's surprising how quickly I get used to it. MIL, who is barely 5 foot, always has estates and doesn't feel comfortable in little cars at all.

Don't worry too much about a few minor scrapes in the early stages of driving, we've all done it. As long as you're scraping bollards not other cars or people, no panic, just part of the learning process.

MsElleTow Tue 01-Jan-13 13:21:06

Astras are easy to drive, probably easier than the 307 (we've had both) because they don't have the sticky out bit on the rear wing.

I think you should be fine. DS1 passed his driving test last month, he learnt in a Citroen DS3 and DH's Polo, I insured him to drive my Scenic and he can drive and park it no problem.

LRDtheFeministDude Tue 01-Jan-13 13:21:15

Astras are very good for visibility given their size, IMO.

They do feel big if you are used to something much smaller (obviously!), but they have plenty of good sight lines so should be nice and easy once you get used to them.

Can you perhaps test drive it really thoroughly, plenty of backing and so on, ideally with DH outside the car to tell you how many feet you've got? I think that really helps.

I have driven most things from tiny driving instructors' cars to a ford galaxy (and occasionally a Landie off-road), and I still find some cars are a pig to park and just feel too big. It's probably not really to do with the size as to do with how I feel.

Another thing is, if you test drive it, make sure the seat is high enough! If you are a bit shorter than your DH (as most women are) you'll probably find his driving position is making you feel even smaller and giving you less visibility.

CooEeeEldridge Tue 01-Jan-13 13:21:21

An Astra is prob smaller than your current car? I've got a 3 door Astra and previously had a 3 door 307, and would have said 307 was bigger? Anyhoo, you'll be fine! Within 5 mins you'll be totally settled, I agree with your dh in that I wouldn't want to frequently
drive round the country in a micra / ka type car.

HollyBerryBush Tue 01-Jan-13 13:22:02

OP - should you be driving, balanced on cushions? is that safe?

blondefriend Tue 01-Jan-13 13:35:39

The astra is slightly bigger (about 10cm in width and 20cm in length) however I think you would get used to it quickly. I had an Astra estate which I loved and never had a day's problem with it. I wouldn't necessarily say to do more driving lessons (although they won't do any harm) but just spend some time in an empty car park practicing manouvers.

I went from a Ford Ka to an Astra estate and now on a Ssanyong Rodius (similar to Chryslar Grand Voyager) and it was fine.

HannahsSister40 Tue 01-Jan-13 13:40:26

I felt exactly the same after years of only driving small cars and getting a large car. I thought there'd be a period of transition where I gradually got used to the large car.
There was no period of transition.
I got used to it straightaway!

AmandaCooper Tue 01-Jan-13 14:32:27

OP I booked a driving lesson when we upgraded to a big new car, DH thought it was ridiculous but it's one of the best things I've done - i think everyone should have to have a refresher. After just one lesson my confidence soared. It made bags of difference to my driving.

gobbin Tue 01-Jan-13 19:31:34

OP I'm a biker and the concept of getting further training once you've passed your test is quite normal amongst the biking community. One or two lessons in your new car with an instructor will help sort your issues - they'll give you confidence.

EuroShagmore Tue 01-Jan-13 19:39:46

I second the call for more lessons. You shouldn't be having bumps and scrapes (at least not plural - anyone can make a mistake) - you are a qualified driver!

I've been driving for quite a while but on holiday recently I booked a small hatchback and got given a large estate (they had lost our booking so we got what was left). I drive a 2 seater at home so this was by far the biggest thing I had driven. It was tricky to manoeuvre in the tiny hotel car park, but it just took a bit of vigilance and a few more wiggles to get it where it needed to be.

Bobyan Tue 01-Jan-13 19:47:57

OP at 5ft tall you're not actually tiny, you need to buy a car that has a seat that you can adjust to actually fit you.
And as other posters have said the very fact that you are bumping and scraping into walls means that you should take more lessons to ensure you are safe to drive.

bran Tue 01-Jan-13 19:53:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ivykaty44 Tue 01-Jan-13 19:56:00

If it is any conselation Op - I have an astra and my dad can't park it for toffee grin Give him a mini or a range rover and he is as right as ninepence and will squee either inot a tiny space - but the astra is not his bag.

Every car is different to drive and you soon get used to them. I was lucky as when I past my test I got to drive a different car every day for about 4 months due to my job - so don't find it a worry being given a different car to drive.

I would suggest taking any new car out and have a few drives around and taking through 5 bar gates and tight spots to learn how wide the car is and learn how long the car is.

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