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Car visibility: The best and the worst

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The One Show Team | 14:33 UK time, Thursday, 18 February 2010

Tonight, Dom Littlewood showed us how some modern cars can obscure their driver's view of the road.

Dom Littlewood in a car

He told us that manufacturers are making cars stronger to withstand crashes, but that this can sometimes mean that visibility is reduced as car door pillars, for example, are made chunkier.

Which? Car has tested 'car visibility' and put together a list. Each car has been given a visibility score (out of 100).

The ten cars with the best visibility

Smart ForTwo Coupé - 64.8%
Fiat 500 - 58.7%
Citroën C3 Picasso - 58.2%
Renault Grand Scénic - 57.4%
Ford Galaxy - 57.4%
Hyundai i10 - 56.9%
Seat Ibiza Sport Coupé - 56.8%
Citroën C4 Grand Picasso - 56.6%
Audi A4 allroad - 56.5%
VW Golf Plus - 56.2%

The bottom ten - cars with the worst visibility

BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo - 40.2%
VW Phaeton - 40.1%
Chevrolet Cruze - 39.7%
Lexus IS 250C - 39.4%
Porsche Panamera - 38.9%
BMW Z4 - 38.7%
Honda Civic - 37.6%
VW Passat CC - 35.8%
Nissan GT-R - 34.6%
Porsche Boxster - 31.4%

The percentages are calculated on a number of criteria such as interior mirror visibility, exterior mirror visibility, windscreen wiper clearance, pillar thickness and all-round view.

Add a comment.


  • 1. At 7:20pm on 18 Feb 2010, Hetman wrote:

    Although this is a very vaild poll it is misleading. With the hood down a Porsche Boxster would have 100% and a couple of the cars in the list have safety cameras to cover blind spots.

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  • 2. At 7:25pm on 18 Feb 2010, Gary2sheds wrote:

    Why should manufacturers be challenged to make visibility better, when the average motorist now seem to stick a mobile phone or sat nav holder to the windscreen, instantly obscuring their visibility? Better still, lets have a smelly Green Tree (or if you are a licensed cabbie your ID tag) hanging from the rear view mirror to add to the clutter!

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  • 3. At 7:26pm on 18 Feb 2010, rr980 wrote:

    I test drove a Honda Civic but the visibility was so appalling I ended up buying a VW Golf instead. Shame as the Civic is British built...

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  • 4. At 7:27pm on 18 Feb 2010, 9canons wrote:

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  • 5. At 7:29pm on 18 Feb 2010, Karen Clark wrote:

    Time for pedestrians and cyclists to take responsibility for looking where they are going and observing the rules of the road! Car drivers should indicate their intentions and others should notice them - DRIVERS HAVE A RIGHT TO BE SAFE ON THE ROAD TOO - IF WE GET HIT AT SPEED THOSE THICK PILLARS THAT obscure vision keep us very safe!

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  • 6. At 7:34pm on 18 Feb 2010, 9canons wrote:

    I would like to add the Peugeot 107 to the poor visbility list.
    The back side pillars are so wide and the rear windows so tiny that it is very difficult to see to the left & right of the vehicle at the rear.
    I wish had taken Dom's advice & spend more time on the test drive looking at all round visablility.

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  • 7. At 7:42pm on 18 Feb 2010, rr980 wrote:

    @Karen Clark - having nearly been knocked off my bike whilst LEGALLY riding in a cycle lane by car which overtook me and then immediately turned left, I would suggest that car drivers do have a responsibility to check blind spots for the safety of ALL road users. Remember your driving lessons Karen? "Mirror - Signal - Manoeuvre ". Not, "Signal - Manoeuvre and if there's some their its their problem"

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  • 8. At 7:44pm on 18 Feb 2010, alan wrote:

    thank you very much for your item on poor reward visibility in some modern cars. I have been comparing my new car with my old mini in that regard. in my opinin reward visibility is not as good in the modern car. that I feel is a major safety issue.

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  • 9. At 7:50pm on 18 Feb 2010, Tony Ball wrote:

    Where does the Nissan Note come in the visibility stakes?

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  • 10. At 7:51pm on 18 Feb 2010, Eugene wrote:

    I'm not sure how the Ford Galaxy got into the top ten? I am currently driving a 2008 model and I find it one of the worst cars I have driven for rear visiblity and also for side mirror blind spots on both sides.

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  • 11. At 7:51pm on 18 Feb 2010, rr980 wrote:

    oops, meant "someone there it's their problem"

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  • 12. At 7:59pm on 18 Feb 2010, Shirley Tovey wrote:

    I'm surprised it has taken so long for someone to highlight the poor visibility in modern cars. I bought an Alfa 147 7 years ago because my late husband was an 'Alfamaciac' after testing all similar vehicles. None of them had the visibility of my old Fiesta. I've been going on about poor visitibility ever since and have had near misses because of it. It's about time manufacturers regarded visibility as being as important to the driver as the look of the car.

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  • 13. At 8:37pm on 18 Feb 2010, Muir88 wrote:

    I currently drive a Peugeot 307 and find that the front pillars obscure a large area, especially when coming up to roundabouts and junctions. The main problem is the angle at which they sit due to the slope of the windscreen. The back pillars are also quite chunky, causing a large blind spot. This has almost caused an accident on the motorway where a car, illegally undertaking myself, was in said blind spot. Had I not noticed the headlights, I would have went into the side of them as I was about to move into the lain they were in.

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  • 14. At 9:19pm on 18 Feb 2010, grace wrote:

    Thank goodness this problem has been made official.I thought maybe it was only me with a problem reversing with confidence. Reversing was never a problem until I purchased a new model of the Honda Civic. Reversing is really very difficult, one has to be very careful when doing so due to the all round limited visability. Seems that the worst offenders are the faster sporty models of car A real test when purchasing my next car will be to reverse the car into a tight spot "in the dark." designers must think that all we have to do is to go forwards.

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  • 15. At 11:05pm on 18 Feb 2010, mag47 wrote:

    not only is visabilty reduced by thick pillars,there is a tendency with new cars to have more raked back windsreens.this in the latest corsa causes reflections on the inside of the windscreen of the dashboard vents and fancy trimings. some instances i atually had to pull over as i was unable to see the road in front of me. have a grand c4 now which is fantastic to see all around.

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  • 16. At 12:02pm on 19 Feb 2010, thewall1 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 17. At 1:28pm on 19 Feb 2010, Rich_H7 wrote:

    I edited this article for Which? Car, and it's good to see it has provoked some debate. Obviously, the convertibles in the bottom 10 are scored with the roof up, which is how most UK drivers will use them over the course of a year! With the roof down it's a different story...
    Poor driver visibility is a serious concern of ours - the team here all notice it when we're testing cars, and it is getting worse in most cases. I just wanted to clarify that it's possible for a car to get top-notch crash safety scores (e.g. Fiat 500, Ford Galaxy etc) and still offer decent visibility. If the designers and safety engineers talk to each other, there's no reason why a car can't be good looking, easy to see out of, and strong in a crash.

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  • 18. At 6:04pm on 19 Feb 2010, Howard wrote:

    My hybrid Civic is spoilt by thick angled pillars in the front that also contain curtain air bags. Looking right into roundabouts the circulating traffic can be obscured. People that are crossing the road at crossings cannot always be seen until they are well on the road. During the last 10 years this type of problem seems to have got worse with each new car.

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