Choosing your next car
Few people make the driving position a biggest priority when choosing their next car. Comfort might cross your mind on the brief test drive, but chances are it wont get your full attention.
Where should you start?
So what should you do? Firstly, read the Behind the wheel and Ride and handling sections of our road tests online, or in the What Car? New Car Guide, for the models youre looking at. Doing so will flag up any flaws in the driving position and ride quality. However, just because a car gets the thumbs-up from us doesnt necessarily mean that it will suit your body shape you will need to spend a considerable amount of time behind the wheel to check that.
What Car? says
Motorists are, understandably, wrapped up in ways to cut costs at the moment, and are overlooking crucial health and safety issues such as their driving position. Changing yours could save your life and thats no exaggeration. Even if you are lucky enough to avoid any accidents, sitting incorrectly when youre behind the wheel could still damage your body irreparably, and could go on to cause you a great deal of discomfort in the process.
Ride quality is important, too, because whole-body vibrations increase the risk of spinal injury, and when youre sitting down theres already added pressure on the discs. Less vibration through the seat means less stress on your back, so smoother is definitely better.
Try before you buy
If youre buying a new car, badger the salesman to let you drive it for a day or so some manufacturers (Lexus, Peugeot and Renault, for instance) offer their customers a 24- or 48-hour test drive as standard.
Ask to test drive a car in the trim level youre interested in. Demonstration cars are often top-of-the-range models, so may be fitted with adjustments not available in popular trims (such as lumbar support, seat-height adjust and lockable head restraints). Check the brochure carefully to find out which model trims come with which adjustments a much better driving position might not cost you much more money.
If youre buying a second-hand car, drive it for as long as possible (at least an hour) before deciding, and even consider renting that model for a weekend to test it properly. Either way, take along this magazine and set up the driving position using our 10-point guide before setting out.