Ballooning new cars equal parking pain for drivers

Wednesday, 30th December 2020, 10:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 30th December 2020, 10:01 am

The ballooning size of new cars is leaving many motorists struggling to squeeze in and out of their vehicles in car parks.

Some popular models have grown by as much as 55 per cent since the 1970s but parking spaces have remained unchanged, leaving drivers pressed for space and risking damaging their own or other people’s cars.

Some of the latest models are so huge that they barely fit into the standard 2.4m x 4.8m spaces at all.

Research by car buying site CarGurus found that today's Range Rover takes up to 86 per cent of the standard parking space, leaving just 21cm of room for drivers to get out. In contrast the original 1970s model took up just 69 per cent - the same footprint as today’s Ford Focus.

The current Range Rover dwarfs the original model (Photo: Land Rover)

The Focus itself is 28 per cent bigger than the old 1970s Escort and leaves drivers with less than 30cm of room to manoeuvre out of their vehicle.

The research compared some the most popular cars currently on UK roads which had an equivalent available in the 1970s, showing how their footprint in the typical parking bay has grown.

Among the biggest growers is the Honda Civic. The tenth generation car now takes up 71 per cent of the parking space, ballooning from 49 per cent in the first generation and leaving just 30cm of space for drivers to get out.

The Mini Hatch was the biggest grower on the list; 55 per cent larger and taking up 20 per cent more of the typical parking space than the famously tiny original.

The modern-day Mini is a very different car from the original with which it shares a name (Photo: Mini)

The Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, BMW 5 Series, Ford Mondeo, Mercedes E-Class, Peugeot 308, Vauxhall Insignia and VW Passat have also all grown significantly to leave drivers with less than 30cm space to exit the vehicle.

Despite many cars already proving to be a tight fit in standard parking spaces, the growth spurt appears to be unrelenting with the research finding cars are continuing to grow by an average of nearly three per cent from generation to generation.

Chris Knapman, editor at CarGurus.co.uk, said: “It’s understandable why cars have grown so much over the years, and the dramatically improved safety standards of modern cars versus those of years gone by is an obvious benefit. However, as many motorists will no doubt confirm, it's disappointing that parking space guidelines haven’t been updated accordingly.

“Many of the latest cars are at least available with technology to help with parking, including parking sensors, reversing cameras, 360-degree view cameras and automatic parallel and bay parking functions. Some even equip cars with features to help prevent car park damage, such as door edge protectors and Citroën’s Airbump Technology. However, it is of course worth noting that no matter how easy the technology makes it to park, if the space is too small for your car none of it will help you to physically squeeze out of the driver's seat."

CarGurus’ car dimensions comparison: 1970s vs. 2020 

Ranking 1970s make & model Space to open door (cm) Area of parking space used up Today’s make & model Space to open door (cm) Area of parking space used up % increase in area
1 Morris/Austin/ Rover Mini (1959-2000) 50 37% MINI Hatch 3dr (2014-) 34 57% 55%
2 Fiat 500 (1957-1975) 54 34% Fiat 500 (2007-) 39 50% 47%
3 Honda Civic 1st Gen (1972-1979) 45 49% Honda Civic 10th Gen (2016-) 30 71% 44%
4 Peugeot 104 (1972-1988) 44 43% Peugeot 208 2nd Gen (2019-) 33 61% 42%
5 Renault 5 (1972-1985) 44 47% Renault Clio V (2019-) 30 63% 36%
6 Mazda 323 3rd Gen (1977-1980) 40 53% Mazda 3 4th Gen (2019-) 30 70% 31%
7 Audi 80 (1972-1978) 40 58% Audi A4 B9 (2016-) 28 76% 30%
8 VW Passat B1 (1973-1981) 40 58% VW Passat B8 (2015-) 28 76% 30%
9 Vauxhall Nova A (1982-1993) 43 48% Vauxhall Corsa F (2019-) 32 62% 29%
10 VW Golf MK1 (1974-1983) 40 52% VW Golf MK8

(2020-)

31 67% 28%
11 Ford Escort MKII (1974-1980) 42 54% Ford Focus MKIV (2018-) 29 69% 28%
12 VW Polo MK1 (1975-1981) 42 49% VW Polo MK6 (2018-) 32 62% 26%
13 Ford Fiesta MK1 (1976-1983) 42 48% Ford Fiesta MK8 (2017-) 33 61% 25%
14 Range Rover Classic (1969-1996) 31 69% Range Rover L405 (2012-) 21 86% 25%
15 Toyota Corolla 3rd Gen (1974-1981) 42 54% Toyota Corolla 12th Gen (2019-) 31 68% 25%
16 Ford Cortina MKIV (1976-1979) 35 64% Ford Mondeo MKIV (2014-) 27 78% 22%
17 Vauxhall Cavalier MK1 (1975-1981) 37 64% Vauxhall Insignia B (2017-) 27 79% 24%
18 BMW 3 Series E21 (1975-1983) 40 61% BMW 3 Series G20 (2019-) 29 75% 23%
19 Vauxhall Astra MK1 (1979-1984) 38 57% Vauxhall Astra MK7 (2015-) 30 69% 21%
20 Peugeot 304 (1969-1980) 42 56% Peugeot 308 2nd Gen (2013-) 29 67% 19%
21 BMW 5 Series E12 (1972-1981) 36 68% BMW 5 Series G30 (2017-) 27 80% 17%
22 Mercedes 190 (1982-1988) 36 64% Mercedes C-class 4th Gen (2014-) 30 74% 14%
23 Mercedes W123 (1976-1986) 31 73% Mercedes E-class 5th Gen (2017-) 27 79% 8%