Thursday, April 09, 2009

How to sit in a car and drive it

It's really quite simple. To control a car properly you need to be close enough to the pedals to easily and quickly operate them, and close enough to brace yourself (with the footrest and your knees) when cornering. Which is quite close. Indeed, it means your legs are splayed and braced against the door and the centre console. If they are too straight you cannot brace and will be unrestrained in a corner. Instead you will roll from side to side.

Now you also need to control the steering wheel, so you need to be quite close to that, too. Forget the straight-armed F1 look from the 1940s and 50s, that may look cool - or stupid - but it doesn't give you leverage on the wheel. So you should be close to the steering wheel with legs splayed. You'll find that position is perfectly attainable in most cars but especially so in older Alfa Romeos. They are made to be driven.

However apparently most people prefer to keep their legs straight, and older Alfas typically don't allow that as an option, at least not if you are taller than about 5feet eight inches or 180cm, whichever comes first. Which is why we get silly comments from car reviewers who don't understand how to actually drive a car:

Sit inside the 147 and the memories of Italianate driving positions that we grew up with in Alfasuds and Giuliettas are banished forever. Seat, pedals, steering wheel, gearstick and mirrors all appear to be positioned around an anthropomorphic figure of a human being rather than a gibbon (as was the case with the old 145).

One day a 'reviewer' will actually seek to explain this, rather than just expose their personal misunderstanding.

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