Monday, September 9, 2013

Bigger, biggerer, biggerest!

When the newest, 4th generation Renault Clio sub-compact car came out last year it really caught my attention. It is a very attractive redesign of what I considered to be a rather awkward looking car. The new Clio also stands out for another reason… it is significantly bigger than the 1st generation car that came out in 1990. All four generations of the Clio have been very popular vehicles, and it is common to see the older ones next to the newer ones on the road and in parking lots.
To make sure that it wasn’t just my eyes playing tricks on me, I looked up the dimensions of the Clio over the years:
As I suspected, each generation has gotten larger than the previous. The only exceptions are the lower height of the newest Clio compared to the previous one, and the fact that the weight has dropped slightly for 2012. Otherwise, each generation grew a few cm in all directions and gained closed to 100 kg with each evolution. While this may not seem like much when you compare, say, a Clio 2 to a Clio 3, when looking at the original Clio 1 next to a brand new Clio 4, you have 35 extra cm of length, which is significant.

Perhaps manufacturers don’t have any choice. It might be that consumers get familiar with a name, and when trading in their old car consider the same model but want it to grow to accommodate them and their additional family members and stuff. At some point, though, what was originally a sub-compact car like the first Clio becomes closer in size to a compact. If all of the cars in a brand expand at the same rate then models shouldn’t end up stepping on each other’s toes, but it does mean that at some point a new sub-compact car needs to be introduced to take the place of the ‘one that got too big’… and that at the top end, the largest model gets so big that it either has to stop growing and starts fighting for space in the lineup with the model below it, or has to disappear to leave the next model in line the spot as top-dog.

I wonder if any brands keep their cars the exact same size with each generation. While this is far from being a gravely important question, and it’s only people like me that scratch their head over such things, I AM curious if manufacturers put much thought into it, or if it’s just natural for them to upsize every generation. For the McDonalds generation, I suppose it’s normal to want to ‘Biggie-size’ everything, including our cars!

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