In most MPV's with third row seats, your head is just inches away from the rear windscreen.
In most MPV's with third row seats, your head is just inches away from the rear windscreen.

Just inches away

4th Sep 2014 1:23 pm

Third-row seats aren’t just cramped, they are also relatively unsafe.

India has finally discovered the seven-seat MPV. Earlier consigned to the ranks of automotive pariahs, along with estate cars or station wagons, Indian customers today

are acknowledging the greater practicality and utility these cars bring. We are now more accepting of the monovolume van-like shape, some of our fixation with three-box cars seems to be wearing off, and soon we might even go radical and embrace luxury MPVs.

It’s no surprise really. More seats equal greater practicality, and that means more space to carry our families around with us. Getting more seats for the same amount of money is also something that appeals massively to us. “It’s like getting two seats free,” said a friend of a friend of a friend, who’d just bought one. 

There’s a fly in the ointment, however. No, it’s not what you think. It isn’t that it’s easier to climb into a jam jar than to get into the third row, it’s not that you whack your head against the roof at least once every time, and nor is it that you need to unfold yourself like a tent after 10 minutes in the back. The elephant in the room we all seem to be conveniently ignoring is safety.

Here are some hard disturbing facts. Firstly, if you are sat in the third row, you are extremely vulnerable to a collision from the rear. The back of your head is often mere inches away from the rear windshield, and that means if you get hit in the back by a big commercial vehicle like a bus, you’re probably better off on a bike. Use your imagination. Yes, it’s even worse than being sat at the front in a van. Sure, the relative speed is normally much lower when you are rear ended. But as you can imagine, any impact from the rear is bound to have serious consequences. And the lower you are sat to the road, the worse it gets.

Compounding this is the fact that seven-seaters often have inadequate head restraints – that prevent neck-snapping whiplash. We are also particularly vulnerabledue to the chaos on our roads. The differences in braking ability between heavy vehicles and modern cars often causes a rapid coming together – we often need to brake hard to avoid someone or something that’s in our path. 

Remember that the next time you consign your most precious cargo to the rear of the car.

Author

Shapur Kotwal

  • 216  Articles

Deputy editor at Autocar India.

Shapur is at the forefront of the magazine's extensive road testing activities and oversees the test instrumentation and data acquisition. Shapur has possibly the most experience among all road testers in the country.





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