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?

Soupqueen Tue 01-Jan-13 09:07:27

I absolutely understand your concern, when you're used to a little car anything bigger seems like a tank. An Astra isn't that big though, you'll get used to it very quickly, go for it.

Flatbread Tue 01-Jan-13 09:08:10

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

NewYearNewNagoo Tue 01-Jan-13 09:11:42

I assume he needs the car to put stuff in? But TBF I'd rather do a lot of miles in a bigger car, if I could afford it.

I drive a scenic, went to it from a punto, so I understand your trepidation! Trust me, you'll get used to it. I do sometimes think I can't fit it in a parking space and then when I walk by I discover that I really could have blush

ImperialSantaKnickers Tue 01-Jan-13 09:12:48

I moved from a tiny old Polo to a (comparatively) huge Mondeo estate when I had ddtwins, I spent an afternoon up at my parents farm manoeuvring it about and soon got used to it.

What you are being U about is getting an Astra - I've had two, one was the worst car I've ever owned and the other was the second worst. I will never ever touch any Vauxhall with a bargepole ever again smile

sherazade Tue 01-Jan-13 09:14:08

AFAIK smaller engines work harder on longer, faster journeys. This is what dh has said anyway after having commuted with smaller and larger cars for most of his career.

onyx72 Tue 01-Jan-13 09:17:29

I went from a Smart car to a 4x4 [shoot me].
Got used to the bigger car in about 5 minutes.
You'll be fine. smile

spoonsspoonsspoons Tue 01-Jan-13 09:19:34

Surely a peugeot 307 and an astra are more or less the same size? Both smallish family cars

pinkmagic1 Tue 01-Jan-13 09:21:31

I had a little peugeot 106 when I first passed my test and managed to write it off within 5 months! Needed a new cheap car quickly and got an Astra. It seemed big for the first few days but I soon got used to it. Had a few cars since then but got another astra last April. Both mine have been reliable, they are excellent medium sized family cars and the older models, pre 2005 I think, have fantastic boot space.

I'm 4ft 10, my first car was an Astra, now I drive a Scenic. Being a shortarse makes no difference in these cars. You do get used to bigger cars, quicker than you expect.

Sirzy Tue 01-Jan-13 09:24:49

Can you go for a corsa type size as a compromise?

I have a 1.4 corsa automatic and its great!

everlong Tue 01-Jan-13 09:28:27

You'll be fine I promise. Just practise going through gates, tight spots, car park spaces carefully for a bit.

You get used to a bigger car very quickly and it soon becomes normal.

ohfunnyFRANKENface Tue 01-Jan-13 09:28:41

You'll get used to it, honestly! Many ways they are easier to park! Just look for nice big spaces!

ImperialSantaKnickers Tue 01-Jan-13 09:31:03

scherezade's dh is right, a larger engined car on a long journey will be so much more efficient than a little one. Seems counter-intuitive but it's true.

Itsafreefuckingcuntry Tue 01-Jan-13 09:33:38

I went from a 307 to a 4x4.

Saying that, I had been driving for years and was a very confident.

What you're wanting to get is not classed as big in my book.

Go for a test drive in one.

tabulahrasa Tue 01-Jan-13 09:33:54

I've had the same car since I passed my test (5 years, not like 20 or anything, lol) I scraped it loads in the first year, but I've been fine since. I've now driven bigger cars and my DP's vans and been fine - I think it's more to do with getting used to driving than size of car.

Try a bigger car, you might surprise yourself.

ShotgunNotDoingThePans Tue 01-Jan-13 09:38:59

My DH does a ridiculous amount of miles and finds larger cars more comfortable for long journeys - he likes the cruise control as well.

But an Astra is a small car, isn't it?

I have a Mini Cooper and he has a 7 seater; the main difference, for me, is the extra weight of the big car giving more momentum so you have to watch your speed on the hilly country roads. The size means you have to be more cautious about parking and passing, obviously, but you just take it slowly and cautiously and you soon get used to it.

But, as I said, not much difference between what you've already got and the Astra.

ViviPru Tue 01-Jan-13 10:26:48

I don't get it, Astras are classified as small family hatches, SAME as 307 (any Golf, Focus, Megane, A3, Leon etc etc) it's the same size confused

Beaverfeaver Tue 01-Jan-13 10:29:04

I learnt to drive in an estate volvo.
Loved it at the time bit when
I passed y test I went and bought a small hatchback car.

Its been about 10 years but parking big cars (4x4's/large executive saloons) I find difficult, however., I do feel a lot more comfortable once driving on the open roads in them.

BarredfromhavingStella Tue 01-Jan-13 10:33:43

Would class an Astra as a medium car tbh, you'll be fine-I went from a Cinq sporting, to a Hyundai Coupe then onto a 95 estate which is a large car.

Beaverfeaver Tue 01-Jan-13 10:34:05

By the way - you are sharing te car so both need to be happy with it.
It's not just his decision but yours too.

Make sure you at least treat drive one.

In my experience, astras might seem large on the outside bit are very easy to park.
Get one with parking sensors.
It won't seem any larger than the 307 and will be nicer to drive so you will probably prefer it anywy

Cabrinha Tue 01-Jan-13 10:40:07

To be honest, I think you need driving lessons.
You shouldn't be this worried about driving a car that is not a big car anyway! And bumping into things in tight spaces? Hope that's not my car in a car park sometime.
Seriously - sounds like you learnt enough to get through your test and that's it.
You need to build your confidence, and your skill. Book some lessons - maybe try to find someone who teaches in an Astra style car?

ohfunnyhoneyface Tue 01-Jan-13 10:48:42

She's been driving for not even a year- no wonder she isn't confident yet, Cabrinha.

I went from a diddy car to a focus and that felt like a huge jump, but I felt safer and it actually improved my driving.

acceptableinthe80s Tue 01-Jan-13 10:57:39

I've always driven big cars. For some reason I feel safer in them. Peugeots are involved in more fatal accidents than any other car according to a family friend who's job involves collating these statistics.

TBH an Astra isn't a large car. It's a small family car. If you we're talking about a Skoda Superb Estate or and Audi Q7 I'd think you had a point but an Astra will only be marginally bigger than a 307 if at all.

I agree that you'll just need practice and to learn the size of your car.
I went from a Punto to a Focus and I much prefer a Focus. You just need to use your mirrors a lot and get confident in knowing the size of your car and what you can and can't do with it.

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.

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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