If you have gone through the specifications of any car, there is one parameter always mentioned alongside body dimensions, its called wheelbase. The wheelbase is given significant importance in various markets since it is the principal factor that defines the classification of vehicle segments.
So what exactly is wheelbase?
Wheelbase is simply the distance between a car’s front and rear wheels. Length, on the other hand, is calculated from the foremost point to the rearmost point of the car. Wheelbase is measured from the center of the wheels and serves as an indication of the level of cabin space for the given external size.
The above image is of 6th generation Honda City, which has a length of 4,442mm and has a wheelbase of 2,600mm. The measurement of wheelbase gives a pretty good idea of the spaciousness of vehicle’s cabin.
Advantages of longer wheelbase
There are certain advantages of having a long wheelbase in a car. While cars with shorter wheelbase are easy to maneuver in tight spaces and have a smaller turning radius. However, cars with longer wheelbase tend to have a larger interior simply because there is more space between the axles.
Furthermore, cars with longer wheelbase also ensures better and comfortable ride, thanks to the greater time between front and rear wheels hitting bumps. Additionally, a long wheelbase will feel more stable at speeds due to its larger footprint on the road.
This is another aspect to consider. The proportion of wheelbase compared to the overall length of the vehicle. A car with a longer wheelbase compared to its overall length will make better use of the cabin space and feel more stable on the road.
Let’s compare an old hatchback with a modern one. Suzuki Cultus (MK-II) was a popular car of its time having recently replaced by Celerio. Although it was sold between 2000-2017 in Pakistan, it was developed way back in the late 1980s. It measured 3,845mm in length while had a wheelbase of 2,365mm which is 61.5% of its total length.
Now compare this to a modern hatchback such as the Toyota Vitz, which measures 3,885 mm in length while having a wheelbase of 2,510mm. Not only that the Vitz has a bigger wheelbase than the Cultus but its wheelbase-to-length ratio is also better at 64.6%.
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This is exactly the reason why automakers these days, have been able to offer generous cabin space in such compact dimensions. Shorter bonnets have allowed them to stretch the wheelbase which results in spacious interior and a much stable and comfy ride in modern cars compared to those from the past.
Wheelbase comparison: Local assembled hatchbacks
Below are the five locally assembled hatchbacks currently available in the market. Among which FAW V2 offers the longest wheelbase, followed by Cultus (Celerio), then the Swift, Wagon R and the Bravo. On the other hand Suzuki Celerio and Wagon R has the leading wheelbase-to-length ratio.
|Wheelbase (mm)||Length (mm)||Ratio|
|Suzuki Wagon R||2,360||3,520||67.04%|
Wheelbase comparison: Local assembled sedans
Sedans, due to the presence of trunk will always have lower wheelbase-to-length ratio compared to hatchbacks. Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic have exactly the same wheelbase of 2700mm, but the Corolla due to just 10mm shorter in length has a marginally better wheelbase-to-length ratio. The 5th gen Honda City has the shortest wheelbase and lower wheelbase ratio as well.
Although we are only comparing local assembled options here, but it’s worth to mention that the Ciaz which is being offered by Pak Suzuki as CBU import, offers the best wheelbase-to-length ratio of 59.02%. Suzuki Ciaz is 4,490mm long having a wheelbase of 2,650mm.
|Wheelbase (mm)||Length (mm)||Ratio|
So there you are, if space in the passenger compartment is your ultimate priority, then FAW V2 among hatchbacks should be your choice, followed by Celerio which surprisingly has a longer wheelbase than the Swift. As for sedans, both Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic offer similar space which is better than that of relatively smaller Honda City.
A computer animation professional with over 23 years of industry experience having served in leading organizations, TV channels & production facilities in Pakistan. An avid car enthusiast and petrolhead with an affection to deliver quality content to help shape opinions. Formerly written for PakWheels as well as major publications including Dawn. Founder of CarSpiritPK.com