Tall drivers can often feel cramped in small cars, so what should you choose if you want a cheap, city-friendly hatchback that’s spacious enough for six-footers?
City cars and small hatchbacks combine low running costs with the sort of dinky proportions that make them easy to drive and park in town. However, small on the outside often means cramped on the inside, so if you’re more than six feet tall, which small cars are spacious enough to let you get comfortable?
Below, we count down the models that put the Tardis to shame while also providing all the equipment and comfort that buyers can expect these days. Plus, we name the ones that are best avoided if you’re on the tall side.
Best cars for tall drivers
10. Kia Picanto
You might think that the Picanto’s small dimensions mean that taller drivers will struggle for space, but in fact two tall adults will find they have plenty of head and leg room. Rear space is fairly good, too, although the Volkswagen Up offers more still. Go for our recommended ‘3’ trim and you get plenty of equipment, including a 7.0in infotainment touchscreen with sat-nav.
9. Hyundai i10
The i10 is one of our favourite city cars, and like the Picanto above, it’s well suited to sweeping around tight city streets. There’s plenty of room in the front for taller drivers, and no city car offers more space for rear passengers than the i10. Its rear doors also open extra-wide, making getting in and out easier than in some rivals.
8. Mini hatchback
If anything, the Mini might seem even more out of place than the Fiesta on a list of spacious small cars. However, while the three-door version doesn’t have much rear leg room when the front seats are slid all the way back, the five-door is a lot more practical. What’s more, both have supportive seats and loads of head and leg room in the front, even if the driving position isn’t perfect, due to offset pedals. The Mini is also good to drive and smart inside.
7. Kia Rio
Look back at the history of the Kia Rio and you’ll find a car that’s always offered plenty of room at a very keen price, and the latest version continues that tradition. Its driver’s seat has plenty of adjustment, too, both forwards and backwards and up and down, so it’s only the Rio’s lumpy ride and so-so handling that let it down.
6. Volkswagen Polo
Volkswagen’s Polo doesn’t offer as much rear seat space as the i20 or Rio, but it’s still far from cramped, and there’s plenty of space for taller folk in the front. The Polo combines this with safe, predictable handling and one of the classiest interiors of any small car. And while it’s more expensive than some rivals, it holds its value well. Just bear in mind that it’s nearer the end of its life than the beginning, with a replacement set to be unveiled later this year.
5. Skoda Fabia
The Skoda Fabia is our favourite small car, because it’s a brilliant all-rounder. It’s not only agile and easy to drive in town, but is also more comfortable and refined at motorway speeds than many of its rivals. The Fabia’s solidly built interior and impressive array of safety kit just set it further apart from its peers. And it’s a very practical choice, with space for four adults, a large well shaped boot and a hugely adjustable driving position that offers all the head and leg room you’re likely to need.
4. Hyundai i20**
The Hyundai i20 doesn’t just give the driver lots of head and leg room; it’s also wider than most small cars, so there’s no chance of you banging elbows with your front passenger. As a bonus, rear space is on a par with some family cars, while the petrol engines are impressively refined and standard equipment is generous. Less impressive is the choppy ride and slow, overly heavy steering.
3. Ford Fiesta
The Ford Fiesta isn’t known for its practicality. And in terms of rear seat space and boot volume, plenty of rivals have it licked. However, if it’s just you and one passenger in the car, it’s extremely comfortable; the steering wheel moves for height and reach and has plenty of range, while the front seats slide back far enough to accommodate the longer-legged and are well bolstered. As a bonus, you’ll be getting the best-handling small car around. Just don’t expect a massive discount from the dealer, because a new Fiesta arrived earlier this year.
2. Volkswagen Polo
The latest Polo is one of the most spacious small cars around, and two tall adults can sit comfortably in the front. It’s a similar story in the rear, where two six-footers will find that their knees don’t touch the backs of the seats in front. Add in the fact that the Polo is good to drive and quiet and it’s easy to see why VW’s small car is so recommendable.
1. Seat Ibiza
The Ibiza is our favourite small car at the moment, thanks to its winning combination of interior space, a strong range of petrol engines and a good driving style. If you’re a tall driver, you’ll find that you can sit anywhere in the Ibiza and still have plenty of room, and its boot is among the biggest in this class. Team our recommended 1.0 TSI 95 engine with FR specification for the best experience.
Worst cars for tall drivers
The Fiat 500, like the Mini, plays the retro theme to good effect and its quirky looks have found a strong following. It’s also a fair chunk cheaper than the Mini. However, it isn’t nearly as good to drive and, if you’re more than six feet tall, you might find getting comfortable a tall order. The steering wheel only moves up and down (not in and out), the driver’s seat doesn’t go back very far and the pedal area is cramped.
Vauxhall’s answer to the Fiat 500 is the stylish little Adam. Unfortunately, this model is even more flawed when it comes to comfort, because it’s tighter for the driver and rear passengers. Firm suspension and high prices also count against it. At least the Adam has a smart interior and plenty of personalisation options.