Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Stop Making Small Cars Bigger!

The '16 MINI Clubman is huuuuuge
They grow up so fast. A '16 MINI Clubman is 168.3-inches long. An '08 Clubman was 155-inches long.
I was just taking my lunchtime browse through Autoblog, and read that the new Ford Focus is getting longer and wider. The article starts out saying, "The next Ford Focus is going to get even bigger. We know that, not because new cars are almost always bigger than those they replace, but because we actually have a round of spy photos supporting it."

This got me to thinking: Why is it new cars are, indeed, almost always bigger than the ones they replace? I want to know: Are people demanding bigger small cars? (How's that for an oxymoron?) Are buyers constantly wishing they had more room? Do automakers assume people simply want larger cars? How much does the Empire State Building weigh? Baby carrots are simply large carrots cut down? WTF carrots!

I say stop making small cars bigger. Some people actually like the size of their vehicles the way they are. If I want a bigger car, I'll buy a bigger car. Some might say this is a growing problem ...

It's not just Ford's Focus that is ever-expanding. In fact nearly every new car gets bigger after a redesign. (The most recent exception is the newest Mazda Miata, which actually is 3.2-inches shorter than the previous model.) Have you seen the size of a MINI lately? MINI 4DR? How about the new minorly enormous MINI Clubman? The thing is "MINI" only in name.

Honda Civic Growth Chart
Table represents the length of the shortest models available from 1972–2016.
I love to look at the Honda Civic as the prime example of subcompact sprawl. A first-generation Honda Civic  hatchback (1972-1979) was 139.8 inches long—more than a foot shorter than a new Toyota Yaris. The current 2016 Civic is 182.3 inches long. Yes, the Honda Civic has grown three-and-a-half feet. But let's face it—cars evolve. The Civic started out as a subcompact runabout during the gas crisis of the 1970s, and it grew up—like a lot. But in 2007, Honda brought its subcompact Fit model over from Japan to slot under the ever growing Civic.

I want to know why it's almost universally a prerequisite that cars get bigger as they are redesigned? Can't we be happy with the size of a car and simply keep it that way? Maybe it's the manufacturer's way of getting you into a more expensive car. Maybe it's so that when the new models come out the manufacturer can say that it's even bigger and better than last year's model.

But I say if people want more room, they need to move up. Civic too small? Acquire an Accord. That teeny-tiny Chevy spark doesn't have enough room for the kids? Swoop into a Sonic. Can't get all your shit into your Yaris? You're craving a Corolla.

Sure a little gain here and there can be fine. But when these things start getting really big (see '16 Civic, '16 MINI Clubman), it's time for an intervention.


nlpnt said...

Isn't that always how it works? Every 15-20 years the smallest model gets so big they have to launch a new, smaller nameplate to slot under it.

But with the Focus (and especially Fiesta!) maybe Ford should focus (npi) on carving out more room in the existing interior. Thinner front seatbacks and a slimmer, narrower console should be no-brainers.

Barry Traylor said...

My thoughts exactly.

Unknown said...

I think everybody is trying to make cars straddle segments so that they appeal to a greater number of people. Which is smart, but stupid at the same time. I think in the end, all people will be is confused.