to be wary of driving a larger car?(65 Posts)
Have been driving a smallish peugeot 307 which finally went bust
In the early stages of my driving after passing my test early 2012 I managed to scratch and scrape the car a bit (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?
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.
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
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!
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.
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.
Ha ha avuncular, I've had mine for 5 years and the indicators STILL annoy me!!!
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.
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!!
Nothing wrong with parking sensors- I have to park in some funny spots sometimes and could do with sensors!
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!
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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).
If it is any conselation Op - I have an astra and my dad can't park it for toffee 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
OP - should you be driving, balanced on cushions? is that safe?
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.
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