Car Wheelbase Guide
What is a wheelbase?
The wheelbase of a car refers to the distance between the front and back wheels. It's generally shorter than the full length of the vehicle, from bumper to bumper.
Wheelbases are often measured in millimetres or—less frequently—centimetres. In North America, they're more commonly expressed in inches; however, this should be converted to metric for cars sold here.
The Rolls-Royce Phantom pictured above is 5982 mm long with a wheelbase of 3820 mm. That's gigantic! You could fit an entire hatchback in that space between its wheels
What are the different wheelbase sizes?
There are a few different wheelbase sizes depending on the type of car, but they typically fall within certain ranges. For example, a typical city car might have a wheelbase of 2,430mm, while a family hatchback could have a 2,700mm wheelbase. SUV’s tend to be on the larger side withwheelbases that can reach up to 2,980mm. With that in mind, you can imagine how large the Rolls-Royce’s wheelbase must be – it truly is an unusual size.
Why is a car’s wheelbase important?
You might not guess it, but a car's wheelbase has a big impact on many of its qualities. The one that probably matters most to you is interior space. Most of a car's interior is between the wheels, so a car with a long wheelbase will have more room than one with the same length but shorter wheelbase
The main reasoning behind a long wheelbase is to allow car designers more space to work with so they can create an interior without any obstructions. In other words, one big box that allows for both people and things.
To note, many luxury cars such as the Mercedes S-Class and BMW 7 Series have a 'standard' wheelbase form or an extended one. The longer wheelbase creates more space in the back seat area which is ideal for this type of vehicle. Along these lines, the Skoda Superb has an elongated wheelbase too which does wonders for those sitting in the back. Evidently,Skoda knows that their car is popular with taxi drivers who prefer this feature!
Long wheelbase cars have a smoother ride than their shorter counterparts because the distance between the front and rear wheels is greater, making it less likely for them to be jarred by bumps. These vehicles are also more stable when taking corners at high speeds due to their larger footprint.
What size wheelbase is best?
There is no universally 'best' wheelbase size - it varies according to differing needs. When choosing a car, take into account how you will be using it and what sort of handling or interior space you require.
Should I compare wheelbase sizes when choosing a car?
It is probably fair to say that not many people do this, and will be happy with their cars despite this, but considering wheelbase sizes could help you choose between two cars if the decision is a tricky one. The Skoda Superb, for example, is famed for its interior space, which is partly thanks to its long 2,841mm wheelbase. You may consider that this extra room makes the Superb better value than the Volkswagen Passat, which has 2,786mm wheelbase and isn’t quite as roomy in the rear despite being slightly more expensive.