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Old 19th June 2021, 12:35   #1
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Default How car models are growing bigger & bigger with each new generation

The dimensions of cars are growing by the generation. Today's cars are nowhere close to the dimensions of their predecessors from a few generations before.

Modern cars, be it sedan, hatchback or SUVs have grown massively in size compared to their older iterations, some even out-sizing their much premium siblings. For example, the 2022 Honda Civic is almost, if not larger than an Accord from the 80s.

However, there is a valid reason for this. Cars today are subjected to more stringent vehicle safety norms, than back in the day. Modern cars need to come standard with thicker pillars, heavy doors with stronger bracing and fatter bumpers to accommodate crumple zones. All this, along with the need to have a spacious cabin, packed with plenty of comfort and convenience features; adds up to the large dimensions seen on cars today.

But, by how much have the models grown? We've listed out the 6 most popular models, comparing the dimensions of their current generation, to some of its predecessors.

1980 vs 2017 Toyota Camry

How car models are growing bigger & bigger with each new generation-1980toyotacamry-1stgen.jpg

The Toyota Camry like any other model on our list has been on sale for a long time in different markets around the world, including India. The latest-generation Toyota Camry has been on sale since 2017 and is offered as a premium sedan offering.

How car models are growing bigger & bigger with each new generation-2017toyotacamry-10thgen.jpg

The first-gen Toyota Camry went on sale in 1980 and measured 4350 mm in length, 1645 mm in width, 1390 mm in height and had a wheelbase of 2500mm. The latest-gen iteration has grown by 476 mm in length, while its wheelbase has also increased by 226 mm.

1980 vs 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser

How car models are growing bigger & bigger with each new generation-1980landcruiser60series.jpg

Another popular Toyota on our list is the Land Cruiser SUV. The extremely popular and highly capable go-anywhere SUV from Toyota has been on sale since the 1950s.

How car models are growing bigger & bigger with each new generation-2022toyotalandcruiser300series.jpg

While the Toyota Land Cruiser has always been a big SUV, the 2022 iteration has further grown in size. Compared to the 1980 model (60-series), the SUV has grown by 275 mm, while the wheelbase has increased by 120 mm.

1981 vs 2021 Honda Accord

How car models are growing bigger & bigger with each new generation-1981hondaaccord-2ndgen.jpg

Honda Accord is yet another premium sedan which has grown massively in its overall dimensions. The second-generation Honda Accord in 1981 measured 4410 mm in length, 1650 mm in width, 1375 mm in height and had a wheelbase of 2450 mm.

How car models are growing bigger & bigger with each new generation-2021hondaaccord-10thgen.jpg

These figures might look big even in today's standards, but the latest-gen Accord has out-grown its predecessor by over 472 mm in length and close to 400mm in wheelbase. The Honda Accord is currently in its 10-generation iteration, having been unveiled earlier this year.

1981 vs 2022 Mercedes-Benz S-Class

How car models are growing bigger & bigger with each new generation-1981mercedesbenzsclass-2ndgen.jpg

The Mercedes-Benz S-Class is considered to be the pinnacle of luxury sedans across the world. The S-Class has always debuted the latest features, while also offering the best comfort and luxury quotient among all its rivals. The 2nd-gen W126 iteration was no different. The luxury sedan back in 1981 measured close to 5 metres (4995 mm) in length, with a wheelbase just under 3 metres (2,935 mm).

How car models are growing bigger & bigger with each new generation-2020mercedesbenzsclass-7thgen.jpg

The latest-generation S-Class, however, surpasses both figures by quite a margin. The 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class (currently in its 7th-gen iteration) has a length of 5246 mm and a wheelbase of over 3,165 mm.

1983 vs 2022 Honda Civic

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The Honda Civic is a popular executive sedan offering, with its latest 11th-generation iteration being unveiled earlier this year. Similar to its much premium sibling, the Accord, the Civic has also grown quite a bit in size, while also coming packed with features and equipment.

How car models are growing bigger & bigger with each new generation-2022hondacivic-11thgen.jpg

Compared to its 3rd-generation sedan model, the new Honda Civic has grown by almost a metre in length from 3830 mm to 4656 mm. Its wheelbase as well has increased by 450mm and now measures 2700 mm.

1983 vs 2021 BMW 3 Series

How car models are growing bigger & bigger with each new generation-1983bmw3series-2ndgen.jpg

The 1983 BMW 3 Series, the E30, is considered to be one of the most iconic models from the Bavarian carmaker. The saloon was on sale between 1983 and 1990 and offered in a range of powertrain options and with the M package as well.

How car models are growing bigger & bigger with each new generation-2021bmwm3.jpg

The latest iteration of the 3 Series was introduced in late-2020. The range-topping M3 version features a controversially large front grille. The new model, like all other models in our list, has also grown considerably, compared to its iconic predecessor.
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Old 20th June 2021, 09:53   #2
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Default re: How car models are growing bigger & bigger with each new generation

For me, the bigger the car, the better . So I frankly love this trend. Today's Civic is as big as the Accord of previous decades, the current 3-Series is comparable to yesteryear's 5-Series and the C-Class is like the W124 E-Class in size. Some brands do it well = I love the big Camry & 5-Series, but some brands screw it up. Just look at the Accord = it was a tight family sedan at one time and is a weird-looking land-barge today! Haven't driven the current Accord, but the 8th-gen they sold in India drove like a boat.

Of course, this trend will be more prevalent with global models listed above, rather than made-for-India or even made-for-Asia cars. In India, the sub-4 meter tax classification means half the cars on our road will always be <4,000 mm. And the new-gen Creta, Innova, City etc. aren't really much bigger than the cars they replaced.

Last edited by GTO : 20th June 2021 at 10:00.
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Old 20th June 2021, 10:12   #3
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Default Re: How car models are growing bigger & bigger with each new generation

Those are only a few expensive models. For less expensive and popular models, the size doesn't vary. The Y2K Alto and 2021 Alto are still the same size!
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Old 20th June 2021, 10:44   #4
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Default Re: How car models are growing bigger & bigger with each new generation

Among many Murphy's laws, there is one Murphy's law that states A rat is an elephant made by japanese. And it has a corollary. An elephant is a rat made to Government order. Both these statements are true at least in case of cars and mobiles. Earlier, we had fiats and ambassadors, impalas, Plymouth, etc which could easily accommodate six people.

People never used to comment on space inside cars since the concept of dearth of space was not known to them. They had acres of Dickey space, leg space. Then came Maruti 800 - an elephant made by japanese, which was almost half the size of Ambassador. Trend started and many cars followed same trend.

Unlike japanese, Indian don't like small things. Hence, they customize every japanese product and make them bigger. Tata Indica started this trend of expanding the space inside car and reverse trend started. Today, we have trucks called SUVs and we still crib space is less (Hence, they are rats made to Government orders)

Same trend can be observed in bikes. From Yezdi, Rajdoot, Javas which were huge, we started seeing IND-Suzuki, hero honda, scooty etc. Then, customization started and hero honda Karizma, cb250, 350, Dominar 400 etc came in to picture.

Same trend with Mobiles too. From giant landline phone instruments, Nokia 3310, samsung c200 etc started the trend, which were one tenth the size of landlines. Later through smart phones, reverse trend started such as 4 inch, 5 inch, 6 inch, 6.5 inch

Looking at this, it is very evident that although manufacturers try to cut the corners and optimise cost by minimising the size, people recreated the trend of small to big.

It is better for manufacturers to realise that there are both types of customers and they need to meet both the requirements. Else, sustainability is in question.

Last edited by gkveda : 20th June 2021 at 10:48.
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Old 20th June 2021, 10:51   #5
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Default Re: How car models are growing bigger & bigger with each new generation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gansan View Post
For less expensive and popular models, the size doesn't vary. The Y2K Alto and 2021 Alto are still the same size!
Not really!

In India - the Alto brandname has remained to be associated with a similar dimension car due to the aggressive price point it still competes in! Related read - https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/india...s-pricing.html (The curious case of the Maruti Alto and its pricing!)

But we don't actually get the real Alto anymore, do we? We got a previous generation in the name of A-Star. This is the "real" current generation Alto -

How car models are growing bigger & bigger with each new generation-img012x.jpg

Few more examples -

1. WagonR.
2. Celerio (the spy shots of the next generation makes it very clear).
3. i10 (Or in our case, i10 -> Grand i10 -> Grand i10 Nios)
4. Thar (Ask the rural folks especially who depended on the Di!)
5. Ertiga

In fact, Many of our sub-4m cars have grown to near 4.1 meters length in international markets when they changed generation, just that we get ones with chopped boots etc to meet the dimension requirements. One example here is the Polo, which VW doesn't think is worth to chop engineer for the Indian market.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
For me, the bigger the car, the better . So I frankly love this trend.
Not sure I share your feelings on this topic , except when on the expressway. A bigger car makes it a pain on a day to day basis with parking and navigation constraints at home, office and even on our streets. I think I'll stick to small vehicles, just not too small to have to compromise on practicality and safety (not to mention that's all the wallet can afford too anyways! )

But then - as cars become bigger they tend to go up the price range and their old price slots get filled by new sub-brands. The old WagonR void has been filled by the SPresso, the old i10 void has been filled by the new Santro, City is almost near what the Civic used to be, Octavia is too 'superb' these days but there is Slavia on the way to replace it's old slot, M3 has become almost M5, and M2 has taken it's original formula etc.

So it's not like the others have to miss out, except the obvious differences in build (blame inflation and ever rising taxes!). A new City will never feel like an old Civic used to!

In fact, I just typed a similar thought on another thread yesterday -

Quote:
Originally Posted by CrAzY dRiVeR View Post
IMHO - Octavia has grown too big and expensive for the market, with the vRS almost going irrelevant via the CBU route - a Skoda Slavia/Rapid vRS with the 1.5 TSi might just be the perfect enthusiast sedan for the market.

The original Octavia vRS formula - 150hp and C sedan (currently they are the same size of the old D sedans) size.

Last edited by CrAzY dRiVeR : 20th June 2021 at 11:10.
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Old 20th June 2021, 11:12   #6
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Default Re: How car models are growing bigger & bigger with each new generation

Cars have gotten expensive too !!

While the topic mainly talks about the increase in wheelbase, in our market we have seen cars grow wider too !!(especially sub-4m cars)

Personally I guess I have reached a saturation point with respect to how wide/long my next car should be. Happy with the size of C/D segment(spacious yet compact for city runs) and would love to go for more features and engine power over size.
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Old 20th June 2021, 11:33   #7
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Default Re: How car models are growing bigger & bigger with each new generation

The cars have definitely grown in size over the years. But not only in size. The engine powers are increasing too, and so are so many other things like safety and features. Thus, I would say the cars are growing "bigger and better" with every new generation. And I welcome that!

If I recall right, the 1981 Honda Accord mentioned by OP had a 72hp engine! That number is about 3X (if not more in some versions) in today's Accord.

However, one thing that is not getting better is the looks. I know this is subjective, and I speak purely my personal opinion. But the new Accord looks hideous compared to the 1981 Accord which looked so simple and timeless. Same is true with Camry. I feel sad that Toyota has been making Camry look worse and worse in every generation! Accord and Camry were simple, clean, elegant family sedans which looked very proportional and timeless! Today, they have totally lost their identity and character. Then coming to that BMW M3, enough is already said on this forum about how BMWs are getting uglier too. Thus, this trend is not limited only to a few brands, but seems like a consistent global trend.

Just as an illustrative example of what I am trying to say, look at the cars mentioned in the original post. Not even one car mentioned there looks better in the current generation than their earlier generations mentioned there.

So what lies in future? Big, bulky, powerful, fast, ultra-safe, loaded with features and technology, and terribly ugly looking vehicles! That is my guess. I will be thrilled to be proven wrong on the ugly prediction though.

Last edited by Dr.AD : 20th June 2021 at 11:44.
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Old 20th June 2021, 14:10   #8
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Default Re: How car models are growing bigger & bigger with each new generation

Not much in favor of size increment every passing generation. This hurts more when size lends character to the car. Case in point:
How car models are growing bigger & bigger with each new generation-dsc_1654.jpg
New Minis aren't mini at all. Wife has 2011 Cooper S and current gen Coopers outsize it. Driving a loaner new generation Mini feels incredibly different than her '10-'11 Mini because there is some much space inside (relatively).
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Old 20th June 2021, 14:37   #9
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Default Re: How car models are growing bigger & bigger with each new generation

My views are a little contrarian to some of those expressed here. Bigger does not mean better or prettier or more useful or more practical. It only means bigger.

A car is a private asset deployed via a public facility-service-asset i.e. our roads & parking spaces. Right or wrong this public asset is in short supply and in some city areas with construction all around will not change in years or decades. In newer urban areas and highways wider roads can be built but there is a limit in built up areas that were constructed keeping in mind traffic of a different age.

Keeping this in mind IMHO our car makers should use technology and superior materials, now available, to build small cars that are still safe and comfortable and fitted with the features and amenities we have now come to enjoy and gotten used to.

Making certain models bigger and bigger may satiate our inner needs as an individual but cost us all more as a society. People like me who drive 5-metre long cars are the cause of this malaise.
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Old 20th June 2021, 18:03   #10
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Default Re: How car models are growing bigger & bigger with each new generation

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Originally Posted by V.Narayan View Post
Keeping this in mind IMHO our car makers should use technology and superior materials, now available, to build small cars that are still safe and comfortable and fitted with the features and amenities we have now come to enjoy and gotten used to.
Agree with you 100% on this. And thankfully, this development is already happening in India. There are several new cars in the sub 4m category that exactly fit your description above. They are small, yet have modern materials and technology, and also have most (if not all) of the features and amenities that once only luxury cars or "big" cars had. So this is definitely a welcome development in India.

However, what you mentioned is true more for India (with crowded cities and limited space), but not necessarily true for the rest of the world, and mostly not true for the USA. Therefore, the global models which are mostly targeted for USA and other developed countries continue to see this increasing size trend. All the models mentioned by the OP are global models. Their Indian sales remain a tiny fraction in their global sales and thus, they are not customized for trends and needs in India.

In summary, we are seeing two different trends: Global cars are becoming bigger. And in India, we have lot of development of new models with all the modern technology and features, but still within 4m length! I think both are fair things and developments driven by market forces and local regulations. Horses for courses, in a way!
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Old 20th June 2021, 21:35   #11
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Default Re: How car models are growing bigger & bigger with each new generation

Let us talk about the Chevy Suburban. It went from a station wagon to a freakin house:


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1st generation.


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Current Generation.




The evolution over 86 years:

How car models are growing bigger & bigger with each new generation-chevroletsuburbangenerationsside.jpg


And as they say :" The bigger ,the better ".

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Old 20th June 2021, 22:44   #12
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Default Re: How car models are growing bigger & bigger with each new generation

Let us not forget our American counterparts who shrinked in size with succeeding generations. The current Dodge Challenger is the only one which comes anywhere close to it's ancestors in terms of size. While cars from the rest of the World expanded, American cars have generally decreased in size if one were to compare sizes of the 50's, 60's and 70's to their latest generation offerings. While this is mainly attributed to the 1973 oil crisis, it could have also been to handle competition from the foreign car makers on American soil.

(Images are not to scale)
How car models are growing bigger & bigger with each new generation-car-size.png
Image source: Google images.

Kindly check out the link below to witness more such atrocities
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Downsize_(automobile)

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Old 20th June 2021, 22:57   #13
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Default Re: How car models are growing bigger & bigger with each new generation

I'd like to differ on this topic. I don't know much about other countries car markets but in India what I've observed in the car market for the last decade (especially after the ludicrous sub 4m rule, less than 1.2L Petrol engine and 1.5 diesel engine for sub 4m cars as well as high taxes on the 1.6 litre engine) is that apparently less is more! because a sub 4m fully loaded variant crosses 10-12Lakh( i20 costs 14L on road) and from 4-4.5m it costs 19-21L(top variants) and above 2L engine costs easily between 23-30L. The prices were much lesser a decade ago and we could get a duster for 13L and swift for 7-8L

I'd prove these with examples

Example 1: Hyundai had given 1.6L petrol and diesel engines in creta till 2020 and post 2020, they downsized it to 1.5L for diesel and petrol. In the car of diesel engine, it's below the 1.5L engine money and they can pass the benefit to the customer, but nope they didn't.

Hyundai also makes the venue with less than 1.5L engines on both fuel choices but it does not pass the benefit to the customer again.

Example 2: Ford had launched the Gen 1 Figo as a spacious car and Gen 2 is smaller than the previous generation car but priced higher with lesser features.

Ford fiesta was shown the door for a smaller Aspire(based on Figo) which again costs 10L on road today.

Example 3: I don't know whether it's an illusion, I see that with evey iteration of the Swift , the car looks smaller on the inside and outside compared to its previous gen.

S cross was given with a 1.3L engine and 1.6L engine but it was still expensive at launch even for the 1.3 L version.

On the flipside, if I have a single car garage I'd prefer a medium sized car of about 4.2~4.4m so that it can be an all rounder. If the no.of cars are 2 or more then the scenario would be to keep one small car(under 4.5m) and one big car above 4.5m for family trips

Last edited by jithin23 : 20th June 2021 at 23:01. Reason: Added content
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Old 21st June 2021, 13:47   #14
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Default Re: How car models are growing bigger & bigger with each new generation

One that really stood out to me was when the "R35" GTR was launched.

I mean just look at this... it looks like it's about to swallow up the earlier gen!

How car models are growing bigger & bigger with each new generation-fa5da769d36dbd0169f9e71a9c986997.jpg

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A thread from 2008 (WOW - Skyline Size Comparison)

Quoting the first reply from there
Quote:
Originally Posted by ananthkamath View Post
What do you expect...people are getting bigger.

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Old 21st June 2021, 14:12   #15
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Default Re: How car models are growing bigger & bigger with each new generation

Luxury cars have increased in size but their engine displacements have become smaller (Mercedes A Class Limo came with 1.3 litres engine).

Soon ICE engines will all get limited to 2 litres with variable tuning. I think stricter emission norms, fuel efficiency (CAFE) norms, safety regulations guide how the design of cars will evolve. That explains the case for modern Mini, longer the crumble zone more safer the car would be.

The story is different for mass scale consumer cars, where strict competition for features, FE, Cost effectiveness (the famous debate of "value for money" and "more car per car") play a critical role. Clubbed with the above comes tax regulations and safety and emission norms which collective controls the resulting engineering applied. As a result the can only grow upto a certain length, width, GC and engine displacement.

I will not be surprised if a 2 wheeler engine is fitted to a 4-wheeler with twin turbos and marketed as "performance packed", as long as marketing will work, the people will still buy it.
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