It’s a feature of mass production that most cars are built for average-sized drivers. This means that if you’re much shorter (or taller or than the average), you may well find that some cars just don’t feel like a good fit for you. Luckily, if that’s the boat you’re in, we have some solutions that should work for you.
How to choose a car if you’re a shorter driver
Shorter drivers can sometimes find that finding the right car is a challenge, but there are some tips that might help.
For one, most modern cars have driver’s seats and steering wheels with a wide range of adjustability. Moving a seat as far forward as it can go should work in most cars for even the shortest drivers who don’t need special modification to their car.
One other issue is reaching a gearstick. If you find that reaching for gears is causing you to strain, or make an effort that affects your control of the car, just choose an automatic. Most automatics are as fuel efficient (or more so) than manual cars, and many also have semi-automatic functions that means you can change gear using paddleshifters mounted on the steering column.
If you find that you’re struggling to see over the steering wheel clearly, you should try a car seat cushion. There are many on sale these days, so look online or at motoring accessories stores.
Finally, if reaching the pedals comfortably is an issue, you could try getting pedal extensions fitted. They can bring you 90mm closer to the driver’s seat and just bolt on to the existing pedals of every make of car. They make driving safer, as the driver is further away from the airbag, so, in a crash, you won’t be hurt when the airbag activates.
Best cars for shorter drivers
The city car: Seat Mii
The trio of city cars built by Volkswagen Group brands – Volkswagen, Škoda and Seat – are all very good in their own way, but the Seat Mii is the one we’d pick.
Stylish and with neat proportions, the Mii has a small but spacious cabin that works for drivers of all sizes, but especially for shorter ones. There’s lots of adjustability in the seat and you get a real sense of how compact the car is.
It’s also perfect for around town, with a nippy 1.0-litre engine that can produce either 60PS or 75PS, while there’s also some useful safety equipment on board.
The sports car: Mazda MX-5
Tall people struggle with convertible sports cars, so shorter drivers can be pleased that there’s at least one advantage to being more compact.
The Mazda MX-5 is a fabulous little sports car and an ideal sporty runabout. Older used versions might not have adjustability of the steering for reach, but it’s still easy to get close to it by moving the seat forward.
The real selling point of an MX-5, though, is the way it drives. It is such tremendous fun that you’ll start looking for cross-country routes on longer trips, because of how involving it is to drive.
The family car: Kia Ceed
For average-sized and taller drivers, the high-set driver’s seat in the Kia Ceed is one of the few black marks against it. For shorter drivers, it should be a major bonus.
The Ceed is a very good family hatchback. Kia has taken the best from the Focus and Golf, then tried to reproduce what works so well in those cars. It’s been very successful in doing that: the Ceed is a very comfortable, good to drive, practical car. It also has lots of equipment that comes as standard, so it's also very good value for money.
The compact SUV: Škoda Karoq
Compact SUVs are a good choice for shorter drivers, as they aren’t too big, but they have a raised ride height, which offers a good view of the road ahead.
The Škoda Karoq is a good choice, as it offers the typical Škoda sense of space and practicality, along with a high standard of equipment and interior quality for a mainstream car. There is a wide choice of engines (petrol and diesel) along with seven trim levels to choose from.
There’s plenty of adjustability in the driver’s seat and steering wheel, so a comfortable driving position should be easy to get to.
The electric car: Hyundai Kona Electric
Another compact SUV, the Hyundai Kona Electric also has a high-set seating position that will enable shorter drivers to see a little further down the road.
Significantly, as this version of the Kona is a pure-electric car, there is no need for any gear changing, and only two pedals two use.
The Kona is also available with a big enough battery pack to give it a real-world range of 279 miles, doing away with the range anxiety so commonly associated with electric vehicles.
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