What makes a good urban vehicle?
There's an after market Land Rover Defender being sold as an Urban Truck. Urban is defined as...of a city or town. Unquestionably, this classic 4x4 is a great off-roader but the last time I checked, there aren't many rivers to ford, deep rutted or pot holed roads to navigate around these parts. Let's look at the facts about why a Defender is not quite the urban vehicle it might suggest.
Firstly it has one of the worst turning circles of any vehicle. It's noisy - not a great attribute in densely packed residential areas and it has some of the highest emission levels in its class. It's also powered by diesel which the UK's two main motoring organisations suggest is the worst type of vehicle fuel for frequent driving in towns and cities.
Turning circle is basically a measure of how easy the car will be to park or to perform a U-turn so it's a useful measure for urbanites and islanders. It refers to the minimum arc a vehicle will turn through with the steering wheel turned to the full lock position.
Turning circle or radius is much more important to the urban dweller than top speed as we spend a lot more time parking relative to cruising.
Turning Circle is generally dictated by the wheel base of the vehicle i.e. the distance between the two sets of front and rear wheels. However, it can be better or worse in some vehicles according to body overhangs for example. By illustration, the London Black cab is able to 'turn on a sixpence' It measures 4.58 m long overall and has a turning circle of just 8 metres whereas the Land Rover Defender 110 is not much longer at 4.78 m long overall but has a turning circle of 14.36 m or 47 ft.
Currently the vehicle with the smallest turning circle is the Smart for 2 with a radius of just 6.95 metres while the Smart for 4 has a turning circle of 8.95 m.
The cleverly conceived all electric BMW i3 is 3.99 metres long and has a turning circle or of 9.86 m or 32 ft. which is the same as the smaller Fiat 500.
Other small urban cars;
Renault Twingo – 3,595mm
Kia Picanto – 3,595mm
*Citroen C-ZERO/Mitsubishi i-MiEV/Peugeot iOn – 3,480mm
SEAT Mii/Skoda Citigo/*VW E-Up! – 3,540mm
*Smart ForFour – 3,495mm
*Smart ForTwo – 2,695mm
*Renault Twizy – 2,319mm
Fiat 500 - 3,546 mm
Suzuki Celerio - 3,600 mm
* Electricity fueled
The data for turning circle or radius is not always readily available from manufacturers but you can check any vehicle's dimensions here or go for a test drive and practice a three point turn IF you can. It's a sure way to know whether the car IS REALLY an urban vehicle.