News: Size does matter

author: AutoManiac date: 2021-12-20


Let's be honest, size matters big time. Whoever claims differently is at risk of being labelled as someone who lacks appropriate size. That being said, appropriate doesn't necessarily spell big, on the contrary - in many cases it means small, miniature even.

On the Autobahn, where a five plus meters long cruiser rules, a small city car is spilling its guts out and shudders each time it passes a bus or a truck. Yet, small as it is, it easily finds a way through jammed streets of an overpopulated city and narrow parking lots, while the cumbersome limousine manoeuvres helplessly, unable to show nor use even a fragment of its capabilities.

Similarly, a wide and low coupé on low-profile tyres will be simply grabbing through the corners of an epic curvy mountain road, as if it was running on rails, unwary of the laws of Physics which might throw it over the guardrail. Meantime, a high-riding SUV with some serious ground clearance would be forced to obey the speed limit, while its passengers enjoy their sea sickness caused by the swaying cabin. Change in scenery, an unpaved road leading to a remote beach on one of the beautiful Greek islands and the wheel of fortune turns so easily. These are not some divine wisdoms I picked up on a trip through Nepal, they're simply sane conclusions most people come to over time, through practice or intuitively. But alas, not so many people out there are able to simply visualise the differences between specific vehicles based solely on their dimensions and body style. Personally, I turned the internet inside-out searching for a tool that would provide me with such a comparison, and when I failed to find it I made the only rational decision I could - we at AutoManiac would build it ourselves.

Easier said than done, let me tell you that, which also explains why nothing similar was attempted before. Still, couple of months of brain storming and a year worth of whole team's effort later - AutoManiac car comparison tool is enriched with vehicle outlines, making our website the first in the world offering something like that. "Enough of marketing, tell us what this is all about", say you. Well, let's cut to the chase!

Idea behind the vehicle outlines comparison

Imagine two different vehicles, with only their outlines (contours) visible, parked beside one another, in the way their front wheels touch the ground in the exactly same point. Lines are coloured differently to make differences stand out, while proportions are, logically, one to one. Outlines themselves represent pretty realistic shape of specific models' variants, with relatively high level of detail so that every single difference would be clearly shown. Yet, one should take into account that in the real world there will be some distinctions, depending on the model year (facelift), equipment level (roof racks, trailer hitch, external spare wheel), as well as version specifics (spoiler, lowered suspension, bonnet scoop).


The most simple thing to notice is the sheer length, dimension expressed in millimetres, here become something visible and it's easy to spot the longer car and how longer than the other one it actually is. Still, one needs to take care of the front overhang, as the fact that one vehicle's rear end stops before the other one's doesn't automatically mean it's shorter. Hight is another thing to take into account because, while it provides more legroom and headroom, it also has a negative impact to the vehicle's dynamics and fuel economy. The two-dimensional outline projection lacks width, though it does have a tendency to follow the other two mentioned values.
Opel Vectra C vs Opel Vectra C StationWagon


When it comes to the appearance of the vehicle outlines, it's a huge source of information, from the overall volume of the passenger compartment, over all the angles and aerodynamics, all the way to small details such as boot loading height. Two cars could be similar in length and have a similar wheelbase, yet they could be drastically different when it comes to passenger and/or luggage space. Another important thing that proves to be worth mentioning is the overall visibility, which can be estimated pretty easily by observing the windowed area and the general shape of the rear end.
Ford Mondeo vs Hyundai ix55

Wheel Diameter

Generalising things when wheels are in question proved to be a bad idea, although there are number of things most people agree about. For starters, larger the wheels - better the stability around corners, even though they do bring higher fuel consumption and slightly worse acceleration with them. Furthermore, wheels with greater diameter facilitate climbing high curbs and make less fuss about potholes and speed bumps, but increase the turning radius of the vehicle. Finally, maximum load capacity depends on the wheel size, among other things, yet with each extra inch in wheel size the price of tires increases dramatically.
Renault Scenic I vs Renault Scenic IV

Ground Clearance, Wheelbase, Overhangs

For those who are into off-roading these are the basic parameters to look into, but only combined they provide valuable information. Generally speaking, vehicles with high ground clearance (shortest distance to the ground), short wheelbase and overhangs are ideal choice for hostile terrain. Such vehicles will effortlessly step over a sharp rock, overcome some serious approach and departure angles, as well as avoid situations in which they are left stranded at the top of a sharp breaking angle obstacle. That comes at a price though, in this case high centre of gravity, an STD-level appeal vehicle dynamics attribute. With front and back axles placed close to each-other it makes stability and handling a challenge. In most cases there's also compromised aerodynamics involved and that's infamously impacting fuel economy and top speed. Additionally, long wheelbase is one of the most important things to attribute to ride quality and comfort, which translates into short wheelbase cars providing their owners with a pretty bumpy ride more or less all the time.
Jaguar XJ vs Lada Niva Now that you know all this, what's left is for you to play with our outline comparison tool and test it with all the different cars that come to your mind. Try comparing your current vehicle with all of the potential replacements you dream about. Find out how much more space there actually is in a station wagon variant of a car and whether or not it offers a longer wheelbase than the regular one. Take a look at crossovers and their ground clearance in comparison to regular city cars they are based on, and figure out if the hefty price difference is worth it. Last, but not least, start teasing others about those couple of inches more.


Visitor comments

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2024-01-27 23:48, Saira

Hi, What a great tool! It would be useful also to have the rear window height shown (for visibility comparison)!

2023-12-03 12:07, Maxcaddy

It would be extremely useful if on the outline of the vehicle you denoted the internal space available, and of most note, the cargo carrying capacity outline with dimensions

2023-07-02 18:43, Automaniac

Hey Leigh, thanks! It was in the pipeline but it simply requires too much effort for the team at this time. Maybe in the future, stay tuned.

2023-07-02 01:38, Leigh

I love it! How about a view from the front or back showing the width with/without wing mirrors? Thanks

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