The alternative is removing either the dashboard or my knees...
November 16, 2013 2:18 PM   Subscribe

I really want to have something small and sporty but I've just had my heart broken by discovering i'm too tall for the MR2, MX5 and GT86. Is there anything available in the UK that I will be able to drive?

I currently drive a small 'hot' (well, warm) Toyota hatchback ( 2001 E110 Corolla SR) which fits my 6ft5 frame beautifully. Unfortunately, years of being driven 'enthusiastically' and beginning to show and I'm itching for something a little bit more fun.

The Mazda MX5 and the Toyota MR2 Roadster/Spyder are both so small I can't even get into them - my knees simply don't fit under the dashboard. The painfully pretty (and out of my price range) Toyota GT86 lets me get in, but my knee simultaneously rubs on the centre console and the steering wheel when I try to step on the clutch. The strange thing is that I've not got particularly long legs (31" inside leg) but some combination of my height and my girth (42" waist) means I just don't fit.

What options are left for something British, European or Japanese that's fun and moderately sporty but which I could realistically buy second hand for under 10 grand? I don't need fast ( assuming it won't be too upset by high motorway cruising speeds ) but I do enjoy g-forces, so good handling and a respectable 0-60 are essential.

Any suggestions?
posted by sodium lights the horizon to Travel & Transportation (17 answers total)
I fit into our Mini very well. It's tiny and just ridiculously fun in corners. If you get the turbo engine, there's plenty of power too. Cost should be just about right for a used model, too.
posted by Eddie Mars at 2:37 PM on November 16, 2013

My tallish friend bought a used lotus exige from a taller person who had removed the adjustable seat rails to bolt the seat back even further which must have gained just enough knee room to make it worthwhile. I dont know how tall the original owner was.

This idea is a expensive gamble for you unfortunately.

How much more knee room do you need from the mx5/mr2?
posted by TheAdamist at 2:39 PM on November 16, 2013

posted by Thorzdad at 2:42 PM on November 16, 2013

Response by poster: How much more knee room do you need from the mx5/mr2?

No idea. I couldn't get close enough to 'in' to tell you.
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 2:50 PM on November 16, 2013

Maybe a caterham seven? Totally impractical. As a last resort you could get one lengthened.... Since there's not much to them.
posted by TheAdamist at 2:57 PM on November 16, 2013

Subaru BRZ / Scion FR-S?
posted by Benny Andajetz at 3:03 PM on November 16, 2013

Sorry, missed the 10k bit. My current lust for that car just kicked in.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 3:05 PM on November 16, 2013

Response by poster: My car lust too, Benny - that's the Toyota Gt86 over here...
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 3:10 PM on November 16, 2013

2nding the VW GTI. I have a good friend who's a large 6'4" who had no problems whatsoever. Awesomely fun to drive. The MkIVs (99-04?) could probably be had in that price range... the 1.8T is a seriously fun engine. I miss my GTI so much...
posted by cgg at 3:32 PM on November 16, 2013

Wow, sodium, it never occurred to me the hassle inherent in right hand drive. I am 6-4, drive a Subaru, and have just resigned myself over the years that my right leg is gonna rub the console in most cars. But it's not that big of a deal, because my clutch foot is on the other side. I understand completely where you're coming from now.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 3:47 PM on November 16, 2013

The current Golf platform (I.e. GTI) is fantastic for space (unless they're very different UK vs US - I assume no). I'm 6'6", 42" and I fit it the way I assume a normal person fits a normal car, with several inches of headroom to spare and no crowding of my legs in any dimension. No idea about previous generations myself.

Also, I know that recent UK Civics have been a lot different than the US versions, but I've found the Civic Coupes were always very drivable for me, from the 2nd gen CRX, to whatever generation the weird 06 and later generation is. A hair snug, to the point I had a callus on my right knee from the center console on the '06, but serviceable. The headroom isn't always excellent, and it sounds like you have a longer torso than me, so that could be a problem. Still, A two door SI then might well fit you, and the SI has a respectable bit of grunt.

The Mini I tried was good, except that the door crowded my shoulder when it closed. Still, at least worth a shot.

Damnably sad, if not surprised, to hear the GT86 probably won't fit me.
posted by wotsac at 4:16 PM on November 16, 2013

I'm not as tall as you, but I have ridiculous legs. My '03 VW GTI VR6, which I love and hope to drive until the sun burns out, is the only car I've owned where I prefer the seat to not be pushed all the way back. The seat also adjusts up and down.

It is fun and powerful, you can set the cruise as fast as you want and climb any hills happily in 6th gear, and the hatchback opens into another dimension, allowing you to somehow carry things that are bigger than the car itself.

The MkIV series is terrific, and you might find one for $10k now that they are over 10 years old. The newer ones are uglier and they're filling them with terrible ideas like touch screens.
posted by fritley at 4:18 PM on November 16, 2013

I just bought a 2006 Hyundai Elantra and fell completely in love. It's small, sporty, and super fun to drive. I find it very hard not to break the speed limits.

My husband is an inch shorter than you, but has a bigger girth and he fits just fine in my car. He even said if he hadn't gotten it for me he'd want it for himself!

I paid under $6,000, I don't know what they're going for across the pond.
posted by TooFewShoes at 4:30 PM on November 16, 2013

BMW Z4. A friend's father is 6'5" tall, and it's the only roadster he can fit inside comfortably. After years of writing off impractical but fun two-seaters, he sat in one at the local auto show. Two weeks later, he had one in his driveway.

Unlike the GTIs (while I do love my Mk6) and other such cars being suggested, it is a proper rear-wheel drive sports car. Not sure what pricing runs over in your part of the world, but they seem to hold steady at about $18k USD in the midwest United States.

Watch some Top Gear. If Clarkson can fit in it, you should be able to as well.

Also, perhaps consider an Audi TT. The first generation was built on the Volkswagen Mk4 platform, and I'd expect front cabin space to be similar to that of a Golf/GTI. Not RWD, but Haldex AWD.
posted by bhayes82 at 5:20 PM on November 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

It looks like the Hyundai Genesis Coupe might be released soon in the UK, so that's something to keep an eye on. It's got RWD and a larger interior than the GT86, so it might be a decent fit.

Ford is also releasing the Mustang in the UK next year. It's American, but the recent generation has received good reviews and it's RWD.
posted by yellowlightman at 6:57 PM on November 16, 2013

You could pick up a reasonably nice (but pre-macho facelifting) Merecedes SLK for that. Merecedes' bread and butter is well heeled middle aged people who are rarely slight or slim, yet the cars are ace.
posted by wackybrit at 8:19 AM on November 17, 2013

I was recently befuddled by the fact that I could not for the life of me fit into the driver's seat of a Subaru Impreza. Knees wedged under the steering wheel and all that.

Then I found the lever to lower the seat. There's a lever to lower the seat!?

So, before writing off all these cars, make sure that's not what's going on.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:24 AM on November 17, 2013

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