Rise of the bloater-car – how popular models have ballooned in size

Rise of the bloater-car – how popular models have ballooned in size
Rise of the bloater-car – how popular models have ballooned in size

We all know that cars are getting bigger.

A quick glance around any car park will show gargantuan SUVs overhanging spaces, and many homeowners find their family runaround is almost too big for their garage.

Now new research has found out just how much some long-lived models have grown across the generations, with some swelling by as much as 63 per cent.

The biggest offender, in every sense, is the Ford Mustang. The world’s best-selling sports car has been around since 1964 and in that time has got 17cm (36 per cent) longer, a metre wider (57 per cent wider), 36 per cent heavier and its overall area has grown a staggering 63 per cent.

The retro-inspired but all-new versions of the classic Mini and Fiat 500 are also massively tubby compared with their diminutive originals. The Mini’s overall area is 61 per cent larger and weighing in at 440kg more, it’s 64 per cent heavier. The 500 is a whopping 73 per cent heavier (336kg more) and 47 per cent larger overall.

2018 Ford Mustang
The new Ford Mustang is a whopping 63 bigger than the earliest models (Photo: Ford)

Safety impact

Britain’s best-selling cars aren’t immune from middle-age spread either. The Ford Fiesta has expanded in every direction and is now 37 per cent larger than the first generation car. And the Volkswagen Golf has piled on a significant 473kg while adding more than 40cm in length and width since 1974.

Ford Fiesta growth

Ford Fiesta size comparison
The current Ford Fiesta is more than 40cm longer and wider than the first generation (Image: Zuto)

The data was gathered and analysed by finance comparison firm Zuto with help from Sam Livingstone, director at Car Design Research, who explained why cars have seen such growth.

He said: “Safety is one reason why cars are expanding in size. Crash beams, airbags, and the crumple zones need space, so cars have grown in width and length over the decades to accommodate these features — we end up with larger cars as a result, but they are far safer than they were 20 years ago.

“Cars are also growing in size partly because manufacturers can charge more for a larger car, whilst the cost to produce today’s sophisticated small cars is not much less than for a larger car. Car finance deals make it much easier for us to own large, luxury models as it’s affordable.

“This wasn’t the case 30 or 40 years ago, when most people had to buy a car with cash up front, and when a smaller car would be a lot more basic than a large luxury car.”

How new and old models compare

(Image: Zuto)

Weight saving devices

Not everything has ballooned in the same way. Despite being longer, wider, and with more luggage capacity, the figures show that the latest Range Rover is actually lighter than an early 1981 model by 57kg (around two per cent).

And Mazda has stuck to its guns with the MX-5. Designed as a compact, lightweight sports car, the current model is only 31kg heavier than the first generation, 6cm shorter and a mere 4cm wider despite the 30-year gap between them.

Sam added that the move to a global market has also had an impact. “Originally, cars on UK roads were designed, engineered and produced in the UK but today they come from all around the world. Notably in China and America – the largest cars markets – the roads and freeways are much wider, meaning cars can afford to be quite a bit bigger. As they aren’t designed for UK roads, it’s a tight squeeze when they’re imported.”

Four generations of Mazda MX-5
The Mazda MX-5 is a rare exception to the trend for cars to get bigger and heavier over time (Photo: Mazda)

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