Inspired by this “narrow” thinking – we felt that a list of cars with short sideways gaps between front seats (using the cars’ width and a ₱2-million cap as limitations) should be posted.
After all, as the recently departed composer Burt Bacharach once wrote, what the world needs now is love – and we’re only too happy to help with that!
Since hearts’ day is close at hand, we give you a list of what vehicles to get for that all-important automobile affection.
Chevrolet Spark (₱694,888 to ₱734,888)
The Chevrolet Spark is a surprisingly small A-segment hatchback.
It's even narrower than the commonly acknowledged subcompact king, the Toyota Vios (1,595 mm for the Spark, 1,600 mm for the Vios).
In addition, this little Chevrolet is suitable for urban parking. It can easily fit in cramped mall niches, narrow nooks in streets and dark college parking lots.
Finally, the soft-touch fabric seats and the Android Auto/Apple Carplay-ready infotainment system easily sets the mood for intimacy. That means getting mood-setting music from your smartphone requires just a USB cable.
The Mazda2 may not be as inexpensive as a Kia Soluto or Volkswagen Santana, but its 1,695 mm width is the narrowest among the subcompacts.
Plus, there are distinct advantages that Mazda’s entry-level passenger car totes over the two Ayala Corporation-backed models. For starters, the Mazda 2’s 1.5-liter, twin-cam, 16-valve inline-4 gasoline engine and 6-speed automatic transmission offer great response.
This is good if you and your date are rushing from, say, Alabang Town Center to the drive-in hotels that line EDSA Northbound in Pasay City.
Also, the Mazda 2’s seven-inch floating touchscreen infotainment reads smartphones with Android Auto and Apple Carplay.
The infotainment’s knobs for toggling and volume may be intrusive to close-quarters relationship cementing, but what the system provides for potential pow-wows far outweighs that minor irritant.
Volkswagen Lavida (₱1,251,000)
The 1,765-mm-wide Volkswagen Lavida is narrower than competitors like the Toyota Corolla Altis and the Subaru Levorg, both 1,780 mm wide.
Nevertheless, what the Lavida has over the aforementioned two Japanese compact cars involves its powertrain and its in-car infotainment system.
With regard to the former, the 7-speed dual-clutch transmission efficiently manages all 130 PS and 225 Nm of torque from the turbocharged 1.4-liter inline-4, so the car doesn’t drink gas like Germans drink beer.
That means you can rush away quickly from prying eyes or head quickly towards places for romantic pow-wows.
Also, the fact that the Lavida has seven set gears, instead of a continuously variable transmission (CVT) like on the Corolla Altis, means that the Teutonic car doesn’t have the potential long-term bugbears of a CVT.
The other advantage of the Lavida over the Corolla Altis and the Levorg involves some cabin features. Its sound system has quite the sound clarity, despite lacking an Apple Carplay/Android Auto connection.
On the Lavida, one could even distinctly hear the myriad instruments of original recordings, such as the 1941 Artie Shaw version of “Moonglow.”
Just don’t forget to bring your own thumb drive to feed the infotainment’s head unit with music, instead of relying on the radio.
Toyota Raize (₱751,000 to ₱1,056,000)
If we were to go on dimensions alone, the 1,710-mm-wide Toyota Raize has much less lateral room than three other crossovers in this class with 1,760 mm width (the Chery Tiggo 2 Pro, Kia Stonic and the Volkswagen T-Cross).
Although the others may offer bigger and more powerful engines, we leaned with the Raize, not only due to the width.
The fact that the Raize carries the Toyota badge and Android Auto/Apple Carplay infotainment is more than enough for a twosome date. Forget the rather intrusive transmission sticks (there’s a five-speed manual or a CVT) and the occasional vibration from what’s in front of the cabin.
The fact that there’s infotainment that can read most smartphone brands’ pre-loaded music and information is a mood/conversation starter – and possibly more than enough to aid in getting further engagements.
Suzuki Jimny (₱1,258,000 to ₱1,330,000)
The only mini sport-utility vehicle (SUV) on this list, the Suzuki Jimny qualifies because of its price, its 1,645 mm width and the fact that the only decent-to-good seating in this three-door SUV is in the front.
Frankly, the sport-ute is more of a two-seater than a two-plus-two – which is great for rendezvous off the paved paths
Adding to the cozy confines that is the Jimny’s cockpit has fabric seats, cold air-conditioning, a transmission stick that doesn’t block hand-holding and an infotainment system with a 9-inch touchscreen that should set up the mood for close-quarter confidence.
Further, should Feb. 14 be a rainy and floody day, having a vehicle with high ground clearance (210 mm, in this case) is a good thing.
Suzuki APV (₱743,000 to ₱915,000)
There’s a lot to write about this Suzuki multipurpose vehicle (MPV), aside from it featuring the shortest lateral room in its section at 1,655 mm.
The Suzuki APV's high floor makes you feel like you’re riding in a midsize SUV. In addition, the head unit only has a USB port and FM/AM radio and you can only have it with a 5-speed manual, which can interrupt impromptu non-verbal declarations of love.
However, there are positives. The aforementioned narrow width should help in reducing front occupant effort for in-car Valentine's activities.
The standard 2-DIN head unit can (and should) be immediately replaced with an aftermarket unit that reads Android and Apple smartphones, just to get better music that contributes to a loving ambiance.
And if the front occupants aren’t comfortable with the cockpit and its fabric seats, there’s always the soft-touch-fabric third-row bench and the ceiling-mounted airconditioning vents that blast cool air.
Chevrolet Trailblazer (₱1,518,888 to ₱1,701,888)
The latest sport-ute to carry the Chevrolet Trailblazer label for the Philippine market is now a 1,808-mm-wide compact crossover that is the most narrow in its segment.
The Trailblazer’s width is narrower than its two nearest competitors: the Subaru Forester (1,815 mm) and the Toyota Corolla Cross (1,825 mm).
The bowtied crossover is also less expensive than the only Forester that made this list’s cutoff (the base model 2.0i-L EyeSight CVT is ₱1,938,000), but is significantly more expensive than the Corolla Cross (which tops out at ₱1,265,000).
But arguably the biggest come-on to the Trailblazer (aside from the width, of course) are the heated seats. Chevrolet air-conditioning gets cold quickly and having heated front seats and a narrow width for its class adds to the potential huddle factor on dates.
Should it get all rainy or cold (due to winds from easterlies) on Feb. 14, those heated front seats are great for keeping warm.
Suzuki XL7 (₱1,181,000)
That 1,710 mm width of the Suzuki XL7 can be felt at the front row, wherein just a little lateral movement towards a fellow front-row occupant can escalate into something more interesting (with consent, of course).
Fortunately, a big mood setter and conversation piece is the 10-inch infotainment touchscreen that can easily link up to an Android Auto or Apple Carplay-ready smartphone.
That large head unit means a wider area to tap the touchscreen to fiddle for frame-of-mind audio.
And if you and your passenger's fingers hit each other while reaching out for the infotainment, that’s a talking point right there for increased mutual understanding.
Width doesn't always matter
If you notice the cars that made this list, their respective narrow widths per class were mainly helped by other things.
These include in-car entertainment that goes with the times, cold air-conditioning, non-intrusive transmission sticks and powertrains that can make the vehicles scoot quickly from point A to point B.
All of these things are important to stretch that first base trip to second base (or even further if you play your cards right on Valentine’s Day)
– and a narrow vehicle is a great aid for that action.
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