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?

specialsubject Tue 01-Jan-13 19:58:16

if you are 'not the best driver' (and good on you for admitting it!) then you need to sort this whatever car you drive. Consider some refresher lessons.

we all have to be the best drivers that we can be (not the fastest, the safest, smoothest and most economical).

LessMissAbs Tue 01-Jan-13 20:38:48

Man up, OP! I'm the same size as you and drive a BMWX5 and 7.5 tonne horsebox. I'd hate to be thought as somehow handicapped and able only to drive small fluffy cars due to being small. I'm perfectly capable, and I'm sure you are too. Get a car with parking sensors if its a real problem. ps a Vauxhall Astra is not a big car. I suspect its the change of car thats worrying you more than the size.

sherazade Tue 01-Jan-13 20:48:51

Thanks so much to everyone who has replied.

Driving lessons- can't afford given we've just spent a bit of money trying to repair the peugeot which ended up being written off and now need to fork out the expenses for a new car, it's not financially feasible. In any case I'm not sure I'd benefit from them because I feel I just need more road experience/confidence rather than to learn anything new. My spatial awareness has always been weak. I am a cautious driver, just not great in tights spaces and parking mainly.

Parking sensors sound brill- does anyone know what they cost?

LessmissAbs, the ugly, unfeminine looks change of car is worrying me but I thnik i'd adapt quicker to a similarly sized car. Obviously the Astra is not a big car but just bigger than what we had. I'm going to test drive one tomorrow so we'll see how it goes.

WMittens Tue 01-Jan-13 21:42:00

You shouldn't notice any difference in size between a 307 and an Astra, we're talking 21cm difference in length (about 8cm for the 3 door Astra) and 8cm in width.

Why does he need a bigger car? I don't understand how doing lots of miles equals big car

Short wheelbase contributes to an uncomfortable ride; small cars tend to be at the cheaper end of the market, so cheaper materials and less comfortable seats; small engines are revving higher at motorway speeds, so noise and vibration are increased, which can increase fatigue.

HappyJazzy Tue 01-Jan-13 21:52:18

We have front and rear parking sensors they are excellent and I would from now on consider them an essential part of a car, and factor it in to the purchase price. They are just the beepy ones. We have an "estate" car at the moment and I did struggle at first with it, but it does get easier.

I considered a driving lesson to help me with parallel parking, but in the end, I watched quite a few clips on you tube which really helped. I'm now quite a good parker if I do say so myself! My biggest "lightbulb moment" hehe would be that it's all about the mirrors when getting in close, I did always use them, but now more so and sometimes I adjust them when parking to get a closer/better view of the curb.

zombiesheep Tue 01-Jan-13 22:23:19

I don't agree with parking sensors at all... Surely if you need those then you need more experience parking without them!

OP test drive it and see how you feel but I'll bet you'll be fine! smile

ohfunnyhoneyface Tue 01-Jan-13 23:08:29

Nothing wrong with parking sensors- I have to park in some funny spots sometimes and could do with sensors!

gobbin Wed 02-Jan-13 10:50:21

Mirrors should be all you need to park a vehicle! I've got an HGV licence (and am only 5ft 1) and you don't get sensors on those, just mirrors, practice time and developing your judgment. However, this came via lessons!

I really would just spend £20 for an hour with an instructor and tell them 'I'm crap at parking, sort me out'. I did this on the bike as I was crap at slow, tight turns and spent half a day with my previous instructor doing just that, in car parks, on slopes, etc. Now I don't worry about them. Every manoeuvre is just technique - get them to refresh your technique and THEN get out there and practice.

Put it this way, if you were trying to park next to my car, I'd rather you were confident in your training and just practising the technique rather than faffing around getting it roughly right and possibly scraping my doors or mirrors!!

Avuncular Wed 02-Jan-13 11:31:43

I TEACH in a 2 litre Hyundai SUV, and now I wonder why I ever used anything smaller. Size makes it more comfortable and the power makes it easier to drive. Fewer gear changes and more forgiving.

It does have good all-round visibility - excellent mirrors (which I would say is a 'must' for any car).

It's easier for pupils then to downsize to a smaller car than upsize from one.

Since you should be aiming to keep a reasonable gap all round in any case, any extra width shouldn't make a lot of difference. Length can sometimes be an issue going round tight urban corners - I still occasionally 'kerb' the back wheel if I'm not paying proper attention.

Just take the car to a quietish car park - maybe with a friend - and find out where the corners are, for 'close in' parking manoeuvres etc.

A big car usually gets us RESPECT ;-)

I agree with comments that a couple of hours (maybe more) with a GOOD instructor might help you to identify key issues in your driving which it would help for you to fix.

Look for a Grade 5 or 6 instructor, maybe with a similar car to the Astra; recommendation from a friend might be good. [There is always room for improvement in our driving - I passed in 1967 and and still learning.]

BTW I hate Astras - the silly way the indicators worked on the one I was landed with for a few months put me off for life, though the rest of the car was OK.

CooEeeEldridge Wed 02-Jan-13 11:41:29

Ha ha avuncular, I've had mine for 5 years and the indicators STILL annoy me!!!

Quenelle Wed 02-Jan-13 11:56:14

DH drives a Clio and I drive a Scenic. I much prefer driving mine. And even as a passenger the Clio is uncomfortable for long journeys.

Getting used to another car is just a question of practice. When I first started driving I would force myself to attempt a tricky parking manoeuvre rather than look for an easier option, I didn't want to hamstring myself by becoming one of those drivers who had to drive around for hours looking for an easy space.

Nowadays I have to park in a multi-storey for work that is always nearly full and has really tight spaces between concrete pillars. If I hadn't had all that practice in the early days I wouldn't be able to park in there at all.

ComposHat Wed 02-Jan-13 13:18:24

A 307 and an Astra are roughly the same size. both are small family hatchbacks . an Astra may even be slightly smaller.

if you are doing a lot of motorway miles a larger car with a bigger engine is better. Especially if you are going for an automatic gearbox they really sap the power of a small engine. I really wouldn't fancy overtaking a lorry in a 1.0 micra automatic.

Alisvolatpropiis Wed 02-Jan-13 16:08:15

I've always driven small cars but for about 6 months drove my dads vauxhall Astra.

They're quite a nice drive. The only trouble I ever had was doing my usual crafty parking in the lane behind the house I lived in at the time. It's easy doing three point turns in arm span width spaces in a small car. It turned into a fifty three point turn the first time I had to do it! grin

Allergictoironing Wed 02-Jan-13 17:41:53

I had a decent Astra until recently, they are reasonable cars though I found the turning circle a bit wide compared to others I've driven in recent years - yes even the company tank Vectra I had for a while had the same turning circle!

My Astra was a bottom spec one so when I had money a year or so ago I decided to buy a NICE car that suited me, and looked around at most of the cars in that sort of class. I was shocked to discover that for a high spec the new Astra and Focus would cost me MORE than a Seat Leon of the same spec, and the Seat is packed out with VW/Audi gear including engine & gearbox and has a better reliability rating.

If your DH drives long distances then a decent sized car with a decent engine (at least 1600/1800 petrol or 2l diesel) will make a massive difference to his comfort on a long journey, and will be much less tiring. Plus larger cars tend to be available with a higher spec than very small ones, which again can make a big difference on long journeys

rogersmellyonthetelly Thu 03-Jan-13 09:24:47

Don't worry you will get used to it very quickly. I drive a landrover discovery which is basically a tank on wheels and I also drive a 7.5 tonne horsebox so am used to driving big things. I will admit to bricking it big style when I first drove the wagon as my other car at the time was a micra, but I just gave everything lots of space and soon got used to where the corners are.

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