The automotive market is packed with comfortable and convenient cars that are now more affordable than ever, but what about the uncomfortable ones? Are there vehicles that are so uncomfortable that they're barely driveable, yet still in production or use? Surprisingly, the answer is a definitive yes. Today, we focus on the cars occupying the opposite end of the comfort spectrum; those sacrificing ride quality for size, price, and/or usability.
The cars on this list are rated as most uncomfortable by drivers globally, yet you will find that they're some of the more common and prevalent street cars that are still in use today. Curious which cars are most likely to leave you with a sore back, a stiff neck, and a desire to never get back inside them again? Then keep reading.
10 2011 Ford Focus
Surprised? This hatchback is now one of the most competitive on the market, but the earlier models struggled to provide a comfortable and pleasant ride to the passengers. The biggest flaw in early Focus cars were the incredibly uncomfortable cloth seats and the more-than-sparse rear bench space.
Apart from cabin issues, 2011 through 2016 models are actually involved in a class-action lawsuit pertaining to malfunctioning transmissions that allow the buyers with transmission issues in their Focus to repurchase or repair of their car. While the 2019 model appears to have fixed all these issues, many buyers looking for comfort will still be reluctant to sit inside a Focus.
9 1997 Dodge Viper SRT
In a way, the Viper SRT is truly a bizarre car. Out of all modern sports car, the Viper is probably the loudest and most uncomfortable. The engine this car packs under its massive hood is the size of a casket. This is, of course, the fabled naturally-aspirated 8.0L V10, which is known to radiate heat that warms up the cabin to intolerable levels.
This doesn't go well with the fact that the cabin itself is very cramped and cheap-looking, covered in black plastic and leather to make it even hotter. The interesting thing is that this in no way takes away from how awesome and unique the Viper is, or the fact that every car enthusiast, at some point, dreams of owning one.
8 2004 Fiat Panda
Although it takes much of its styling straight from the infamous Fiat Multipla, the second generation Panda is not a bad-looking car. It strikes a nice balance between a compact economy hatchback and an SUV. Unfortunately, it's also rated as one of the most uncomfortable cars on the road by an Auto Express Survey testing seating comfort conducted on 61,000 England drivers in 2015.
The Fiat Panda manages to seat five at only 139 inches (3.538 meters) long, meaning it accomplishes much considering how little space it has to work within the first place.
7 2005 Citroen C1
The C1 is many things, but comfortable is not one of them. Sure, it's a small, compact, and affordable car that appeals to many for its cute and practical design. Although no one obviously buys the C1 for its spaciousness, this may very well be one of its best qualities. But spend more time inside and you'll soon find out why this car is one of the most uncomfortable in the world.
The budget seats and rough plastic make the interior experience quite unrewarding, while the engine becomes intolerably loud at any speed higher than 50 mph. There are also numerous little aspects designed to make your life inside the C1 harder, such as the back windows that don't roll down (even in the 4-door option), a tiny boot, the uncomfortable seating position in the rear, the lack of safety and convenience features, the non-adjustable steering wheel, and the list goes on.
6 VW New Beetle
The Beetle boasts one of the longest production runs in automotive history. Created in 1938 as a five-seat German economy car, it had enough time to become one of the most recognizable and beloved models ever created. However, time seems to have caught up with the Beetle, as the five (in some cases, four) seats simply don't provide enough room and comfort to satisfy the needs of the modern passenger.
Despite many updated design and technology features present in the New Beetle, the car remains a four-seater with an astonishingly small, 8'3'' (252 cm) length. This alone ensures an incredibly cramped and uncomfortable cabin. Add the uncomfortable seats and budget features, and it becomes clear why owners often dub the Beetle the most uncomfortable car they've ever sat in.
5 2004 Nissan Note
Although it was met with enthusiasm when it was introduced in 2004, the Note quickly proved to be a very uncomfortable car for long trips. As a matter of fact, an Auto Express Survey conducted on a sample of 61,000 drivers places it at the very bottom of the comfort scale. Sure, the Note's interior is relatively spacious for the segment, but this perk is offset by the sheer lack of quality and comfort it offers to the passengers.
The plastic-covered dashboard only offers the most basic of necessities, while the seats are overly stiff and uncomfortable. Along with that, even the most powerful engine, a 110-horsepower 1,5L petrol version, makes for a very noisy ride as it struggles to haul the Note. However, it seems that Nissan was aware of the problem and improved things in the newer editions of the car.
4 2005 Kia Rio
Similarly to the Picanto, the 2005 Kia Rio disappointed many owners by offering one of the worst passenger experiences imaginable. Sure, the buyer doesn't sign up for much when purchasing this sub-$15,000 minicar, but the overly stiff suspension, uncomfortable seats, and the bland squeaky, plastic interior with only the sole basics are still a massive letdown.
The front seats provide decent room for the segment, but the rear bench makes for quite a claustrophobic ride despite allegedly seating three. Because of all this, the Kia Rio landed at third place in a survey conducted by Which? detailing the most uncomfortable cars.
3 2008 Hyundai i20
Another brand that frequently finds itself on the opposite end of the comfort spectrum is the Hyundai, particularly the first generation i20 model. It's among the most uncomfortable cars on the road, according to the 2015 Auto Express study for seat comfort.
The seats on the first-generation model are tightly padded and poorly constructed, leaving you with a sore back on any attempt at longer drives. The impression is not improved by the cheap and plasticky interior that's leagues worse than what can be found in some of its competitors, including the Ford Focus.
2 2004 Kia Picanto
The first generation of Picanto was envisioned as an economical solution for quick city errands. Although understandably packed with plastic and featuring only the most basic amenities, the Picanto offers decent interior space compared to its competitors. But don't even think about taking this car on the highway for longer trips.
According to the Which? survey conducted on 39,000 drivers, the Picanto is one of the worst possible cars to sit in for longer drives, offering a bumpy and shaky ride that's in no way mitigated by the cheap and uncomfortable seats designed solely for quick city runs.
1 1996 Ford Ka
Looking for an affordable and comfortable car? Keep looking. Although it was viewed as an interesting and attractive low-budget city car when it came out, the Ka quickly proved to be yet another stiff and uncomfortable Ford. The first generation, produced through 2008, takes the cake as the most uncomfortable car on the road, at least according to a 39,000-driver survey conducted by Which?. Some owners have gotten quite passionate about their displeasure driving the Ford Ka.
For a back-seat passenger, the Ka is a living nightmare, and things don't get that much better in the front, either. Sure, the Ka will get you from point A to point B at a low initial cost, but the bulk of the price you pay will be in chiropractic bills.