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Old 24th September 2014, 15:16   #1
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Default Limited Rear Seat width in modern cars!

This is in reference to the narrow back seat width in current car models.

Most modern cars from the stables of Hyundai (Grande i10-Xcent / Eon), Maruti Suzuki (Alto / Swift-Dzire / Ritz etc), Ford (Ecosport), Honda (Brio-Amaze-Mobilio), Fiat (Punto-Linea), Nissan (Micar-Sunny), VW (Polo-Vento) etc have the back seat optimized for only two individuals to sit comfortably. A third passenger is a squeeze and causes discomfort to the other two.

I fail to wonder why in a country like India where families are large and usually all the 5 seats in a typical hatch or a sedan are occupied, car companies do not design models with adequate back seat width for 3 passengers. I am sure the spacious rear bench space will be appreciated by potential buyers.

Also the 'extra' metal needed for increasing few centimeters of space to ensure enough width for 3 passengers would not increase the overall cost of a car by large. Neither will the dynamics of a car be too affected as most of the passenger cars offer neutral dynamics.

I am assuming car companies want to use the same global platform for India without any alterations to the chassis. However, its time companies do indeed launch vehicles specially suited to Indian conditions and usage.

Till then, buyers will have to contend with limited choices or keep elbowing fellow passengers.
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Old 25th September 2014, 12:31   #2
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Default Re: Limited Rear Seat width in modern cars!

True. It's definitely a factor of launching international cars from markets where the back seat isn't given much importance as in India. Case in point: Look at the 40 lakh C-Class. You'd have to be joking if you tried to fit 3 healthy adults on the back seat of that Mercedes. European cars simply don't stress too much on the backseat...at the bottom of the food chain, the Polo is quite cramped as well.

Within the same segment - be it hatchbacks, sedans or luxury - you got to go up the price ladder for a wide rear seat. There's a wide range of 5+ lakh cars that can seat 3 comfortably at the back: Liva, i20, Vista, Sail and more.

It's also a matter of product differentiation. Manufacturers will intentionally keep their cheaper cars 'small' and expensive cars 'bigger'. How else will the higher model command that premium? BMW once stated that the difference in manufacturing cost of the 3 & 5 series is merely 15%. Take a look at the MRP and you'll see that the difference is a lot, lot more in the showroom!

Good thing is, with so many models, there's options for everyone. Even if you're on a tight budget, there's the Datsun Go.
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Old 25th September 2014, 12:56   #3
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Default Re: Limited Rear Seat width in modern cars!

Quote:
Originally Posted by trek View Post
This is in reference to the narrow back seat width in current car models.

Most modern cars from the stables of Hyundai (Grande i10-Xcent / Eon), Maruti Suzuki (Alto / Swift-Dzire / Ritz etc), Ford (Ecosport), Honda (Brio-Amaze-Mobilio), Fiat (Punto-Linea), Nissan (Micar-Sunny), VW (Polo-Vento) etc have the back seat optimized for only two individuals to sit comfortably. A third passenger is a squeeze and causes discomfort to the other two.

I fail to wonder why in a country like India where families are large and usually all the 5 seats in a typical hatch or a sedan are occupied, car companies do not design models with adequate back seat width for 3 passengers. I am sure the spacious rear bench space will be appreciated by potential buyers.
I agree with you here but I think the manufacturers do not design vehicles solely for India. As GTO rightly mentioned, there are still few options with wider rear seats if one needs that as must have in his car.

For me 90% of the time the rear seats are unoccupied and thus I am least bothered about the space in the rear. My primary concern is comfortable driver seat with decent ergonomics. I can always hire a larger car in case I need to travel with 3-4 other members of the family, if required. The same logic might be used by the manufacturers also. They must be saving some money by keeping it narrow. Why increase the cost for little usage?
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Old 25th September 2014, 13:30   #4
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Default Re: Limited Rear Seat width in modern cars!

The issue is the dimensions of the standard human body type a.k.a. mid 30s male or female with bmi around 22, height about 5'4", weight <65kg.
The standard rear seat is designed for three such standard bodies. And yes, one would rub shoulder to shoulder with one's neighbour, but that's ok so far as the car manufacturers are concerned.

The moment any of the three are of a non-standard body type - i.e. even mildly overweight, that's when the squeeze happens. It's often overlooked by the manufacturers that modern man is mostly overweight or obese,and this simple fact never goes into the design stage.

Well, there's a silver lining... in effect , the subliminal message to the nuclear family is "get in shape'.
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Old 25th September 2014, 14:21   #5
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Default Re: Limited Rear Seat width in modern cars!

I believe if you are in the market for a family vehicle, once you are done with number crunching in an excel sheet, take the entire family, add in a friend or three as extras as needed, squeeze everyone in as much as practically possible and go for a test drive of your top three choices. Each TD should be long enough to get adequate feedback from each family member and the choice should then be based on the voting pattern.

You have also highlighted one of the key reasons why people still like the Indica and some others as have been mentioned above. 'Space'.
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Old 25th September 2014, 14:33   #6
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Default Re: Limited Rear Seat width in modern cars!

Very true. This is a common practice happening with all the modern designs. That is one reason we are still crazy about the vintage cars which used to give a feeling of spaciousness.

I remember my Dad used to have an ambassador when I was about 8-10 years of age. It used to be so spacious that i have even seen 5 people sitting on the rear seat. I guess even a car like Safari does not have that much space as the ambassador or maybe a contessa used to offer.

Last edited by GTO : 26th September 2014 at 12:18. Reason: Typo
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Old 25th September 2014, 14:36   #7
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Default Re: Limited Rear Seat width in modern cars!

The reason may actually be due to what may be called a safety feature. I have observed that most cars of this decade and the past one are gradually getting fatter door trims and the occupants are cocooned away from the body of the car. I distinctly recall driving our Amby while leaning on the door pad with my right elbow sticking heroically out of the window and now while I'm driving the Figo or more so, the Beat, I find myself seating further into the car and away from the door. Ditto with rear seats. There is more than a good couple of inches space between the door metal and the seats, covered in plastic trims. This automatically leads to narrower seats.

Last edited by mi2n : 25th September 2014 at 14:38.
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Old 25th September 2014, 15:10   #8
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Default Re: Limited Rear Seat width in modern cars!

I think car usage patterns are also changing quite a lot. Especially in the cities, during weekdays, on my office commute in Bangalore I see a majority of cars with no more than two occupants (not counting cabs of course). Probably market intelligence is telling car-makers something about the reduced importance of back-seat space?
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Old 25th September 2014, 15:42   #9
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Default Re: Limited Rear Seat width in modern cars!

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/techni...ate-3-a-2.html (Why no cars with front seats that can accommodate 3?)
Not the same discussion but on similar lines. Why can't we have a car with breadth of say a S class and length of swift.
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Old 25th September 2014, 16:01   #10
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Default Re: Limited Rear Seat width in modern cars!

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
True. It's definitely a factor of launching international cars from markets where the back seat isn't given much importance as in India. Case in point: Look at the 40 lakh C-Class. You'd have to be joking if you tried to fit 3 healthy adults on the back seat of that Mercedes. European cars simply don't stress too much on the backseat...at the bottom of the food chain, the Polo is quite cramped as well.

Within the same segment - be it hatchbacks, sedans or luxury - you got to go up the price ladder for a wide rear seat. There's a wide range of 5+ lakh cars that can seat 3 comfortably at the back: Liva, i20, Vista, Sail and more.

It's also a matter of product differentiation. Manufacturers will intentionally keep their cheaper cars 'small' and expensive cars 'bigger'. How else will the higher model command that premium? BMW once stated that the difference in manufacturing cost of the 3 & 5 series is merely 15%. Take a look at the MRP and you'll see that the difference is a lot, lot more in the showroom!

Good thing is, with so many models, there's options for everyone. Even if you're on a tight budget, there's the Datsun Go.
True about the relative size difference allowing the manufacturers to charge more for models in the higher segment.

However, I feel at least the newer versions of cars like the Polo and the Swift which are sold in developing countries too can be designed better with wider rear seats.

On another note, I still can't understand how a cramped car like Swift sells such high numbers in India. The numbers from driving enthusiasts are justified but how even an average Indian family prefers it goes beyond my understanding. Just think how much more a spacious version of the Swift can sell!

Quote:
Originally Posted by sourabhzen View Post

For me 90% of the time the rear seats are unoccupied and thus I am least bothered about the space in the rear. My primary concern is comfortable driver seat with decent ergonomics. I can always hire a larger car in case I need to travel with 3-4 other members of the family, if required. The same logic might be used by the manufacturers also. They must be saving some money by keeping it narrow. Why increase the cost for little usage?
Well, its during the weekend outings with the family, that the lace of space becomes a bother. Its not feasible or convenient to rent cars for just city usage on the weekends.

I do not think there are any substantial savings in reducing few inches of metal.


Quote:
Originally Posted by joybhowmik View Post
The issue is the dimensions of the standard human body type a.k.a. mid 30s male or female with bmi around 22, height about 5'4", weight <65kg.
The standard rear seat is designed for three such standard bodies. And yes, one would rub shoulder to shoulder with one's neighbour, but that's ok so far as the car manufacturers are concerned.

The moment any of the three are of a non-standard body type - i.e. even mildly overweight, that's when the squeeze happens. It's often overlooked by the manufacturers that modern man is mostly overweight or obese,and this simple fact never goes into the design stage.

Well, there's a silver lining... in effect , the subliminal message to the nuclear family is "get in shape'.
I am sure the car designers account for the real human figures in this age. No family is going to have such perfect robotic dimensions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by latentpotential View Post
I believe if you are in the market for a family vehicle, once you are done with number crunching in an excel sheet, take the entire family, add in a friend or three as extras as needed, squeeze everyone in as much as practically possible and go for a test drive of your top three choices. Each TD should be long enough to get adequate feedback from each family member and the choice should then be based on the voting pattern.

You have also highlighted one of the key reasons why people still like the Indica and some others as have been mentioned above. 'Space'.
Tell me about it, my family had to select a Tata vehicle just because of the space requirement. All the other cars in that price range were too cramped.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JASMEET MATTOO View Post
Very true. This is a common practice happening with all the modern designs. That is one reason we are still crazy about the vintage cars which used to give a feeling of spaciousness.

I remember my Dad used to have an ambassador when I was about 8-10 years of age. It used to be so spacious that i have even seen 5 people sitting on the rear sit. I guess even a car like Safari does not have that much space as the ambassador or maybe a contessa used to offer.
We had a Fiat Premier Padmini in the family and though not spacious, it was not too cramped either. Plus with the bench seat in the front and the column gear lever, when needed, a 3 person would be accommodated in the front too.

Damn, I miss that car.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mi2n View Post
The reason may actually be due to what may be called a safety feature. I have observed that most cars of this decade and the past one are gradually getting fatter door trims and the occupants are cocooned away from the body of the car. I distinctly recall driving our Amby while leaning on the door pad with my right elbow sticking heroically out of the window and now while I'm driving the Figo or more so, the Beat, I find myself seating further into the car and away from the door. Ditto with rear seats. There is more than a good couple of inches space between the door metal and the seats, covered in plastic trims. This automatically leads to narrower seats.
While it is true about cars getting safer and the addition of anti-intrusion bars in the doors, I am sure that's not the reason for reducing the seat width.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ajitkommini View Post
I think car usage patterns are also changing quite a lot. Especially in the cities, during weekdays, on my office commute in Bangalore I see a majority of cars with no more than two occupants (not counting cabs of course). Probably market intelligence is telling car-makers something about the reduced importance of back-seat space?
It will be an interesting insight if anything can justify the narrow width of modern cars.
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Old 25th September 2014, 16:17   #11
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Default Re: Limited Rear Seat width in modern cars!

How else are manufacturers going to sell their seven seater versions like Ertiga and Mobilio?

The modern designs are all sleek so that automatically implies a narrower and more streamlined appearance, and bench seats are much more old fashioned now, as is a bulbous appearance that would give you some more inches of internal space.

Older versions of seven seaters like the tata estate station wagon were boxier constructions, so those too were quite roomy.
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Old 25th September 2014, 18:05   #12
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Default Re: Limited Rear Seat width in modern cars!

We need to look at space in relative terms. If you really look at the modern era of cars (ie: keeping Ambi and Fiat aside), Indian middle class was more than happy with Maruti 800. Whole family (up to 5 people) were happily commuting in the super narrow/small cabin of Maruti 800. In comparison, Santro, I10, Brio and Swift are all quite spacious. Also need to understand that all these modern hatchbacks are mostly popular in Cities. Rural population prefers UVs (Bolero, Scorpio, Sumo etc) which can carry 7 or more people. So things are evolving and it will continue to evolve further.
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Old 25th September 2014, 18:42   #13
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Default Re: Limited Rear Seat width in modern cars!

My dad's Getz can comfortably accommodate 3 adults without touching each other, I think it was advertised as the first wide body hatch, if I'm not wrong. It had a 1.3 engine and it was perfectly priced, 5 Lakhs on-road for GVS model when we bought. Premium hatches are more expensive these days and can't seat 3 comfortably in the back.
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Old 25th September 2014, 20:58   #14
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Default Re: Limited Rear Seat width in modern cars!

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
True. It's definitely a factor of launching international cars from markets where the back seat isn't given much importance as in India. Case in point: Look at the 40 lakh C-Class. You'd have to be joking if you tried to fit 3 healthy adults on the back seat of that Mercedes.
+1 to that.

But There's a particular weird case- the Honda Brio. The brio is only meant for developing markets like Thailand, India, RSA etc.,

I fail to understand why it has limited width, especially because they have created a sedan and an MPV from the same platform? Afterall, MPVs are about space.

They have given cheap interiors to differentiate Brio from Jazz and Amaze from City, so why limit the width?
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Old 25th September 2014, 21:13   #15
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Default Re: Limited Rear Seat width in modern cars!

Apparently, this MPV is all about 'kitna deti hai'

Quote:
Originally Posted by D4D View Post
Afterall, MPVs are about space.
In all seriousness though, as GTO pointed out above even a C class will not seat 3 in any comfort. I will take it beyond to the next class or even two. Any of the full size sedans are unable to seat 3 in a row as long as they have the middle hump in the floor. Apart from the Accord, I cannot recall any other vehicle in that size class to be able to do so.

In other words even when the width is there the intent is on comfort and not crowding. This 5 seater terminology again seems to be the brainchild of our bureaucracy.
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