I’m desperate to buy a new car this winter but seeing as the old pot of gold seems to empty itself everytime I get close to bugeting for one I came up with a cunning plan! I decided to do some research for all our tall friends on which cars are the most “Tall Person Friendly”- this way although I’m not shopping for myself… I’m still (pretend) shopping!
Okay so the best way I thought of doing this was to create an imaginary boyfriend (easiest piece of market research I’ve ever done!)- He’s tall, dark and handsome. Infact he’s very tall…. he’s 6 foot 6.
The reason I have an imaginary boyfriend (aside from not having a real one) is may I reiterate for research purposes only . I was recently speaking to a man (real, not imaginary) who is 6 foot 6 and said he has great trouble when buying a car, his first thought is not: ‘Do I like it?’ or: ‘Can I afford it?’, but: ‘Will I fit in it?’ And as you all know, there are plenty of people taller than that, so if he struggles, it must be awful for those even taller.
As your resident information provider, I felt it my duty to research into this area and provide the necessary information for the good of tallkind everywhere.
I began with my favourite car, the Volkswagen Golf and started by browsing the website at www.volkswagen.co.uk where one can check out the exterior dimensions, but not the interior ones. I chose to look at the GTI because that was middle of the range on price- I really am an idiot when it comes to cars, I know nothing about them, and tend to make comments such as, ‘Isn’t it a lovely colour!’ (Silver’s the best by the way!). Anyway, that’s beside the point- all I need to know is how big it is for my boyfriend (sorry, imaginary boyfriend- I’m starting to believe my own fantasies now… note to self: be careful not to believe own lies, go insane and get self committed…end of note).
I spoke to a very friendly man at Volkswagen, in fact I quite fancied him, then I remembered that I was ringing on behalf of my imaginary boyfriend, so no chance there.. damn! (And I’m not the sort of girl to cheat!) He didn’t have the dimensions to hand, but said he would get a colleague to call me back.
‘Lauren’ phoned me back some time later, and said that they don’t hold interior measurements, she was really sorry, and suggested I call my local retailer and gave me the number, apologising the whole time, so I forgave her.
When I called my local dealership a man said to me that he couldn’t tell me the dimensions off the top of his head (I wasn’t asking him to), but he told me that he is 6 foot 4 and has plenty of room for people to sit behind him. I told him that my boyfriend has more trouble with bodyroom than legroom (quite worrying how easy these lies are rolling off my tongue), he corrected me and told me it’s called ‘headroom’ not bodyroom (every day’s a school day.) He got one of his sales team, Pete, to call me back, who had a good giggle about me having a tall boyfriend. (perhaps Pete doesn’t get out much?!) Anyhow Pete was great and told me that the measurements are 36 inches from base (bum) to roof and 16 inches from back of seat to steering wheel.
I then visited www.audi.co.uk a beautiful website with relaxing music and a picture of the Audi A5, which looked like a good car to investigate, ’cause it’s got that vorsprung durch technik, goodness knows what it means, but it must be good, ’cause Blur sung about it in one of their hit singles! On the website you can find out about all sorts of things like ‘colour and trim’, ‘upholstery’ and ‘CO2 data’, but you can’t find out about interior dimensions (unless I’m too dense to spot it, which is totally possible, but I really did have a good browse and couldn’t find it). I called the number listed on the website and spoke to ‘Chelsea’, who offered me a long silence when I gave my request. She then asked me if I’d called a retailer, I replied that I had simply called the helpline number suggested on the website. She put me on hold…. for a long time….and came back and told me that the measuerments from foot to head are 993. ’993 what?’ I asked. ‘Millimeters, no inches….no milimeters…’ she replied. ‘What about chair to head?’ I questioned. ‘No that is chair to head.’ she decided. She couldn’t tell me about legroom, she said that what she had told me was all that the technical department knew. (The words blood and stone came to mind.) She told me to call the local centre sales department, I asked for the number, and when I rang it I spoke to a nice lady. She said ‘GOSH!’ laughted at me for having a 6 foot 6 partner (I’m not sure what’s so hilarious about having a tall boyfriend, but I laugh along to be polite as she’s so sweet). All the salesmen were busy, so she said she would get someone to call me back with the dimensions. Somebody rang back and left me a message saying that the headroom was 993 mm, which I kind of already knew from moody lady. I rang them again to ask for legroom, was put on hold then told to look on the website, which I said I had already done, so was put on hold again, then through to ‘Rob’. He said they don’t have legroom dimensions only bumper to bumper. He suggested I could come into the launch of the car the following week and try sitting in it.
My next port of call was www.skoda.co.uk and I noticed the new Fabia, which is the one on the TV advert they make out of cakes, so of course this is the one for me!! I rang and spoke to ‘Tony’, who got a bit muddled with his legs and his heads, but managed to tell me that legroom is 1075 mm and headroom is 989 mm. He says there’s a lot of room, but its best to drive and try it. He managed to answer my queries immedietely, no mess, no fuss, no on hold…wow! Well done Skoda, top marks.
I tried to hunt on www.honda.co.uk but the website was so exciting I got travel sick and had to log off. There was too much ‘broom broom’ noise and spinning cars, I honestly felt like I was gonna throw up my lunch, so had to abandon my mission.
At www.ford.co.uk the Mondeo Zetec claims to have ‘extra features for increased comfort and style’! ‘We’ll see shall we…’ I mused! The web shows it has a leather-wrapped steering wheel and leather gearshift knob with satin aluminium insert!!!- Very comfort and style indeed, but no use if my boyfriend is gonna bang his imaginary head on the ceiling. The man I spoke to on the phone seemed bored of me from the very start of our conversation, but managed to tell me that legroom was 1134 mm, headroom 996 mm and shoulder room 1448mm. Shoulder room, this was a new concept on me, very impressive ‘Ford man’. He seemed relieved when my query was over, and became very pleasant afterwards asking if I wanted any more help. (That’s just like someone offering to wash up when they can see you’ve already done it.)
I decided to go for the Clio, to see if it was spacious although small at www.renault.co.uk. I got through on the phone to someone who asked my name, and title. I said ‘Miss’, they replied ‘Miss?’ in a puzzled tone, ‘Is that M. I. double S?’. ‘Uh…yeah!’ I replied. Duh! I was asked so many questions- my address, where I had found their phone number, my mobile number (I don’t think so)… Finally we got to talking about the Clio (regular, not sport- I’m not a sporty person so it would be laughable for me to have a sporty car)! She informed me of the wheel base measurement (which, apparently, is the measurement of the gap between the wheels). As if I wanted to know that!! I’m not gonna put my boyfriend there! Then she told me the ‘unladen’ height. ‘What’s that?’ I asked. ‘Let’s see..’ she replied as she left me on hold. (She didn’t even understand the information she was giving me.) Turns out it’s the height of the car with no weight in. ‘WHO CARES!’ More useless information that I wasn’t asking for. She then looked in the brochure to try and answer my queries, she sounded like a robot and kept repeating herself. Headroom is 1000 mm and she can’t find legroom, so after a very long winded annoying conversation she gives me the name of a local dealer to call. She seems really happy now (pleased to get rid of me I think). Turns out that legroom is a secret, the man did not know where to get that information from, he told me that there is a lot of legroom, the seat goes back quite far and forward a lot. He says that the Clio has: ‘One of the most amount of legroom of all the cars.’ and invites me to come and sit in one. (‘I’ll sit on you in a minute’, I think, ‘Then you’ll be sorry!’) So it remains a mystery.
At www.peugeot.co.uk I looked at the 407, a ‘stunning saloon designed for drivers who want more’ (yes please, more headroom). The web gives you the number of the local dealer, who thought that my request was very unusual. He told me that there is a 6 foot 4 chap who drives one and doesn’t have bruises on his head. He wont tell me the dimensions and says that companies cant do this. I say how interesting you are the only dealership who hasn’t tried to answer my request. He panics: ‘Aaagh… I’m backtracking…. hang on, l’ll ring you back in a couple of minutes!’ (Hilarious.) Anyway, he does call me back, and completely redeems himself by going the extra mile, he’d not only measured headroom, but visible headroom, ie with the sun visor down…very clever, which was 3 feet. he’s forgotten to measure legroom in his jolity but tells me he knows a basketball player who drives one and has no problems. (I begin to think he’s Pinocchio’s brother, but he’s so excited about getting his measuring stick out and seems to have come to life, that I decide to leave him to his celebrations).
The worst of all the dealers was Porsche, who can be found at www.porsche.com. The local dealer promised to call me back, yet three days later I called them again because I hadn’t heard. They were disgusted with themselves for ignoring me in this way, and the whole sales team were in ‘Dean’s’ bad books, according to the receptionist. Dean rang me back very quickly after my second call, he apologised for nobody calling me back, but couldn’t tell me the dimensions of the Cayman, and just told me to come down and sit in it!
In conclusion to my endeavours, I am absolutely astounded that it is so difficult to find out leg and headroom. I can understand them thinking the length bumper to bumper is important, but the gap between the wheels? What use is that? I think these car dealers should have a good look at the information they deem important, because who would want to spend a day trying to fit into cars and banging their head on the ceiling? Very disheartening indeed. It would be much easier to have the information up front, and just test out the cars that are tall friendly. Once again I find out that society really does not cater for those of us who are larger than average, whether it be in weight, or as in this case, height.