Are Cars Getting Bigger and Heavier?

You’re not alone, all of us have looked at the lines in a parking space and wondered “How am I supposed to fit my car in here?”.

That is what prompted our search to find if vehicles are getting larger and why it is happening.

How Has Car Size Changed Over Time?

We looked at 10 of the most iconic cars that Brits love today and what they looked like when their first model was released. After analysing their weight, height, length and wheelbase, the results were beyond our expectations! Take a look:


Are Cars Getting Wider?

All signs point to “Yes!”. Out of the ten vehicles, the only one didn’t grow wider: the Audi Q7, which chose to beat the trend and get 1% slimmer than what it was back in 2005.

Ford Fiesta and Range Rover tied: both being 23% broader now versus their first generation. Immediately followed by the BMW 3 Series, 27% wider in the 2019 version than the original 1983 model.


Are Cars Getting Lighter or Heavier?

From all the vehicles we looked at, more than half saw their weight increase by over 35% when compared to their first generation. Only two cars didn’t see a big jump in weight through the years: the Porsche Cayenne, whose weight didn’t change, and the Audi Q7, the only one that got lighter, yet only by 6%.

Though the Range Rover gained 658kg, this was a mere 36% weight increase when compared to one car that saw its weight rise by 64%: the Mini Cooper! You can tell there isn’t much ‘mini’ about the Mini Cooper anymore: it saw the biggest length and wheelbase increase of all the models analysed.


Are New Cars Taller Too?

This area is a bit of a mixed bag: while the majority of cars have got bigger, more spacious and heavier, height has not seen a massive change. In fact, out of all the vehicles we analysed half have gotten shorter through the years.

The Land Rover Defender lost 4% of its height when comparing the 2020 generation with the 1983 model. On the other end, the Ford Fiesta saw the biggest difference out of all the other vehicles, yet only 11% taller (around 142mm).


3 Reasons Why Cars Are Getting Bigger

If you’re scratching your head, wondering “Why do cars keep getting bigger?”, wonder no more! There are three main reasons, starting with the fact that smaller cars used to be cheaper to produce, and consequently more affordable. Nowadays, production costs are similar for large and small vehicles, so there is a higher number of larger cars on the market. Additionally, finance deals are available to most, so it’s easier to buy big luxury cars.

Speaking of luxury vehicles, exotic cars are also to blame. Most cars on British roads used to be generally designed and produced in the UK, with the slim English streets in mind. In the last decade, the number of imported cars has increased exponentially: from 2007 to 2017 the number of imported vehicles increased by over 45%. These vehicles tend to be larger, with wide freeways in mind when designing them.

The last reason boils down to one word: safety. If you think back to the safety features in a car from the 60’s you know we’ve come on leaps and bounds, but all those additions need space. The result is bigger cars with crumple zones, and that accommodate lateral and frontal airbags.


What Is The Future Of Cars?

Taking into consideration how these iconic vehicles have changed from their first generation to now, some predictions are in order, starting with the Mini Cooper. Expanding by 33% in the 58 years it’s been in production - if this rate of growth continues, the ‘Mini’ Cooper will be the widest car on our list (wider than a current Range Rover!) by 2066.

Speaking of the Range Rover, if this model keeps getting heavier at the same rate, by 2050 it will reach a massive 2,700 kg. To get a better idea of what this means, the heaviest car sold in the UK is the Bentley Mulsanne, and it still only weighed 2,685kg!


It would be fun to finish this article with a Jetsons-like prediction of how the future could look: flying cars and overlapping highways in the sky. Strictly looking at the data though, vehicles don’t seem to be slimming down fast enough to be able to levitate us to work (yet).

Which car model change surprised you the most? Head to the Saxton 4x4 Facebook and let us know your thoughts!


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