Cars are getting bigger and more bulky: why?

Cars are getting bigger and more bulky: why?

Cars are getting bigger and more bulky

Over the last few years we have witnessed a real growth in terms of size, but also of price, of cars of all kinds; from city cars to small cars, from sedans to SUVs. Although the increase in overall dimensions was recorded on a large scale, we believe that it was the more compact cars that made the most of it.

Let's examine the 1974 Volkswagen Polo, the very first to be built; the difference with the current model is important, but to give you more context, the current Polo is as big as the first Golf of 1973. In almost 50 years, the Polo has grown 40 centimeters in length and 20 in width. Ok, 48 years of difference could actually be too many, let's analyze the Polo 6N2 of 1999 with the 6W of 2021: the images below made on the comparison site we believe that they speak for themselves. - th_motorlabs_d_mh2_1 slot id: th_motorlabs_d_mh2 "); }
| ); } Still remaining in Germany, another striking example of “grown-up” cars is the Porsche 911; surely you have seen some images in recent years, but here the differences are truly abysmal, so much so that the current 992 looks like a sporty "bison" on wheels. Without going too far back in time, between a 993 from 1993 and a 992 from 2022 there is almost 30 centimeters of difference (in length) in favor of the newer model.

And in the Bel Paese? In Italy it is impossible not to mention the legendary Fiat Panda (we have put two 4 × 4 declinations under the magnifying glass) and we don't have much to tell:

But what are the real reasons behind this growth?

The first of all is certainly safety: modern cars must (fortunately we would dare to say) pass a series of tests and to do so they must integrate sensors, wiring, airbags or simply "withstand" impacts with a studied deformation at the table. The impacts, as defined by the EuroNCAP, are not only frontal but also lateral, active and passive; furthermore, the car must also offer good protection for pedestrians and cyclists. In short, all elements that weigh on the design and force the manufacturers to follow a precise pattern, an element that tends to make new generation cars rise.

A second point, however surreal it may seem, is linked to the habitability and encumbrance of people from the post-war period to today. A first testimony of this aspect comes from Richard Parry-Jones, developer of Ford, who in 1998 declared to the press of the time that the Focus was significantly larger than the Escort because of the size of the people who, since the war, were less slender and more plump. The Ford Focus is just one example, but Range Rover has also grown dramatically gaining inch by inch throughout its generations.

Design is certainly another aspect that has weighed heavily on the size of the cars; starting a few years ago, the wheels continued to grow in size to offer an increasingly “aggressive” and sporty overall appearance. No matter what type of car is considered, nowadays almost all boast large alloy wheels, superior to the past, combined with high and necessarily wide tires. Tires and alloy wheels move hand in hand, if you were not to increase the width of the wheel as well as the height, you would get motorcycle wheels. Not very intriguing on a 2-ton SUV. Large tires mean important wheel arches that inevitably widen the car's track if you are looking for a worthy turning radius.

Car manufacturers almost always follow each other and the expansion of a model is driven by the strategy devised by another brand or competitor. From time to time there are brave manufacturers who try to break "this vicious circle" by keeping the width of a model (the new Evoque is almost identical in size to the old one) or even by slightly reducing its size, which Peugeot has recently managed to accomplish. .

It is a real paradox; the roads have an almost fixed width and the imperative to reduce CO2 emissions, and increase the range of electric vehicles, should certainly invite manufacturers to create more compact, lighter and more agile solutions. Batteries weigh, breaking through the air with increasingly prominent front sections is counterproductive and having an important mass to move aggravates performance; is it really worth it?

Ironically, as if all this were not enough, the last few decades have been marked by the idea of ​​"offering a lot for a little money". Now the market is totally against the trend, every year the models grow in size, length and width, offering less and less at a higher figure. While an increase in length could have a limited impact on the pockets of buyers, an increase in width instead requires a much more in-depth study that must involve many aspects, such as the dashboard, the structure of the crash, the wheels, the tires, the suspension arms and more.

Soundproofing is, finally, another fundamental point not to be overlooked; even if the desire is now to switch to mostly silent cars, like some compromise linked to tire rolling, modern cars have had to follow precise soundproofing processes to be less noisy in everyday driving. The cockpits are therefore “more padded” to offer a more pleasant ride in all situations.

Bigger is better?

Malice aside, there is no clear answer on the matter, especially when you consider the roads you travel on every day. Those who live in the city or in mountain villages may have some doubts, while those who need a lot of space on board may, on the other hand, prefer a new generation car that is more spacious. Certainly the market offers many solutions and is able to meet any request. The question now arises spontaneously, however: will cars continue their growth or will we witness, with the ever more constant development of the electric, a reversal of trend?

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