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Understanding Car Size and Dimensions

The size of a car is a very important factor when deciding on your choice of vehicle. You must consider the car’s dimensions to ensure the size conveniently suits your needs. If you don’t choose wisely, you may find it is too big to park in your garage, or too long to reverse-parallel park on the street, or maybe even too tall to fit into car parks with low ceilings. Also, larger families will need a larger car to fit enough passengers comfortably. 

Cars are measured by their exterior dimensions, using the length, width and height to help you figure out whether the car is right for you. 

Over the years, the size of cars has significantly increased, for example Mini Cooper has evolved since the 1950s when lorry drivers struggled to see the motor in their side view mirrors. Thanks to safety regulations it’s now 61 per cent bigger than the original. 

National Car Parks (NCP) say they have widened some parking spaces in London, Manchester, and Bournemouth and will continue to increase the width of the spaces in their car parks. The reason the spaces are being altered is to accommodate modern cars which are getting wider. A rise in car park accidents has been attributed to drivers having to use car park spaces that are too small for their cars.

What are the different types of car sizes?

Unsure if a car is too big or too small for your needs? To give you a general idea of the different car sizes on the market, here is a rough guide to the average width, length and height of different car types. 

City Cars

Average Length: 2695mm to 3665mm

Average Height: 1460mm to 1610mm

Average Width: 1475mm to 1665mm

There are some great city cars on the market, ranging from the Volkswagen Up! to the Toyota Aygo and Skoda Citigo e-IV, all of which have some great features to make city car driving as fun as possible.

There are many benefits to owning a city car, such as good fuel economy, low road tax, low insurance and service costs and the freedom to personalise. Thanks to their compact size, they also incredibly easy to park, making them popular with young professionals who want to drive around the city with ease.

Browse our selection of city cars with road tax, breakdown recovery and free GB mainland delivery (exclusions apply) included in the monthly rental.


Average Length: 3821mm and 4084mm

Average Height: 1414mm to 1578mm

Average Width: 1665mm to 1780mm

Superminis are small cars that are larger than a city car but smaller than a hatchback. Choices vary from the Renault Zoe, to the MINI Hatchback, to the Audi A1

Superminis provide enough practicality to satisfy a small family with their compact dimensions offering increased manoeuvrability and reduced fuel economy. There is also a wide range of electric superminis on the market, including the new MINI Electric, which allows drivers to experience electric, in easier to handle sized car.

Browse our great selection of superminis with a selected number of models in stock for quick delivery via our Fast Lease service. 


Average Length: 4425mm to 4726mm

Average Height: 1418mm to 1575mm

Average Width: 1703mm to 1871mm

The hatchback remains one of the most popular cars on the market, their medium size making them perfect for growing families, giving them just about everything they could need in a car. Current hatchbacks on the market include the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, the Honda Civic and the Kia XCeed.

Advantages of owning a hatchback include excellent build quality, economical engines and lots of space, meaning they can be parked easily on driveways and in supermarket car parks. 

Browse our selection of hatchbacks with road tax, breakdown recovery and free GB mainland delivery (exclusions apply) included in the monthly rental.

Large Cars (e.g. Saloons and Estate Cars)

Average Length: 4236mm to 4966mm

Average Height: 1429mm to 1550mm

Average Width: 1693mm to 1895mm

Large cars, such as Saloons and Estate cars, are extremely popular with bigger families and business professionals, as they are reliable, economical, practical, and far sharper to drive than an SUV with almost all models offering a generous amount of boot space.

With plenty of sleek estates and saloons available, there is bound to be a large car to suit your needs and budget. If you are business executive looking for a bit of luxury and style, there are options such as the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. If you are a bigger family looking for decent fuel economy and good reliability, consider the Ford Mondeo, Skoda Octavia and VW Passat.

Browse our saloon lease deals and estate lease deals with flexible mileage, contract duration and initial rental terms available. 


Average Length: 4068mm to 5130mm

Average Height: 1530mm to 1860mm

Average Width: 1695mm to 1928mm

The best way to transport people and their stuff at the same time is with an MPV. They are a practical option and offer great value for money. There are some great MPVs on the market, including the Volkswagen Sharan, BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer, Volkswagen Touran and the Ford S- Max.

Typically, large MPVs contain seven-seats, which work well for larger families. You can also get smaller versions of MPVs with five seats. Even with these smaller versions, they still tend to be more spacious for passengers and cargo than other types of cars. Other benefits include more safety features as well as a high driving position providing great for all-round visibility.

Browse our range of MPVs and take advantage of inclusive road tax, breakdown recovery and free mainland GB delivery (exclusions apply). 


Average Length: 4662mm to 5130mm

Average Height: 1624mm to 2035mm

Average Width: 1760mm to 2008mm

SUVs are one of the best family cars on the road, as they can cope with the school run as well as tackling wintery conditions, mildly rugged terrain, trips to the tip, towing duties and long-distance motorway cruising. SUVs currently on the market include the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Jaguar F-Pace and Land Rover Discovery Sport

Style, safety and space rank well with an SUV, and there is often room for seven occupants in some, along with an expansive boot and roomy interior. They also have great fuel efficiency and towing capabilities, making them an increasingly popular choice over trucks for towing the likes of caravans, boats or trailers. 

Browse our SUV and 4x4 lease deals today with selected models in stock via our Fast Lease service. 

Have a question about car leasing? Call Nationwide Vehicle Contracts on 0345 811 9595 to speak to one of our experienced advisers to find the right car lease special offer for your needs.

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