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Thread: The correct seating position: An important factor in driving comfort!

  1. #1
    Marshal roms's Avatar
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    The correct seating position: An important factor in driving comfort!

    As this thread goes live, there is a member from our Facebook group complaining about the lack of proper support from his Punto's driving seat. He is just not able to find a comfortable driving position and hence is contemplating on junking the seats all together and look for other options instead.

    I can certainly relate with his agony, for I have been a victim of the same 'crises' when I bought the Rapid with its multitude of seat adjustments. Thing is, car manufacturers do rigorous testing before finalising on the right kind of seats with the appropriate cushioning to support our bodies almost totally, especially on long journeys. Yes, some do skimp on under thigh support in the name of cost cutting, others do get the seat cushioning wrong at times, but more often than not, the seats are ergonomically fine! It is us drivers who were never taught the right driving position at our driving schools who don't realise how much stress we are unduly applying on our upper back and lower back,our shoulders, our neck, our legs, etc.

    The Palio has fore and aft positions adjustment for seat base as well as for the top half that supports our back. The head rest can be adjusted as well. The steering is fixed and so is the seat height. So its a lot easier to get into a relatively comfortable position pretty quickly. But then you get into a car which provides you steering tilt (height) and rake (fore and aft) adjustment and seat height adjustment in addition, and it gets rather difficult to judge what would be the right driving position. Hell, some cars also provide lumbar support, under thigh support adjustments as well, like the Recaro seats that are shown in the video about to be posted shortly.

    So I felt like a fish out of water. Each time I took to the seat of the Rapid, I kept trying different permutations and combinations to get myself comfortable and found myself exhausted at the end of every journey..frustrating experience! Granted, Volkswagen's Polo platform provides for cars with high set dashboards. So that itself hampers vision. But still, how difficult is it to find my comfort zone? I took to Youtube videos that helped me finally realise what I was doing wrong. I was driving the Palio for long distances in relative comfort, completely oblivious to the fact that my driving position could have been wrong all along! And I can bet you that I ain't the only one here. Like I said, something as fundamental as the correct driving position is never taught by any car driving school in our country. I don't know about Maruti's driving schools though, not sure if this a part of their curriculum.

    It is difficult to describe what makes for a good driving position in words, having a visual reference makes it a lot easier. So I am posting a few videos before I summarize what helped me and made my life in the Rapid a lot better.

    This is a really nice video that sums it up well-

    The Recaro seats with lumbar and under thing adjustments -

    A longer video -

    Click image for larger version. 

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    How I settle down in a car now after understanding the basics of a good driving position

    1] Seats -

    Upper half -
    I dont want to sit in a position that is about 90 degree or less. Basically, sitting too upright will shift the weight of our body to my lower back and my upper body and shoulder will not be in contact with the back of the seat. In effect, I will be slouching with the neck and upper back unsupported. The upper half of the seat should be adjusted in a manner that our body gets aligned to a 110-120 degree position, so that the seat is in complete contact at all times while driving. See the first video for more. Also, once we adjust the upper half of the seat well, we realise that suddenly there is more under thigh support because now our body is positioned properly and is resting properly against the seat.

    Lower half (Seat base) -
    Sitting too far back wont give me the leverage in case of emergencies and I won't be able to fully depress the brake pedal. So I adjust the base of the seat by taking it forward in such a manner that my knees are comfortably bent and not straight.

    2] Seat Height adjust -
    To be able to look out of the windscreen is of paramount importance. Some drivers sit far too low because, well it feels more 'racy' and they feel they are on the track. But then, you can't have much view of the road directly in front of the bumper. And in back to back traffic, you'd need to put your neck out just to check if you're nudging that car in front. Unless of course you are really tall. Which I am not. So I adjust the seat height in a way that my eyes are positioned somewhere around the middle section of the windscreen and there is a one palm difference between the roof and my head. If I am positioned too high, my feet will lift off the pedals and I need my heels to be in constant touch with the floor. So somewhere in the middle is just about right then.

    3] Steering
    Adjusting the steering can be tricky and needs some patience. When I got the Rapid, the steering was set low and was all the way in the dashboard. For a while I drove in this manner. Then I realised that my hands were stretched out in the 9-3 position and I was holding the top of the wheel at most times at it was low. After watching the first video, I realised that it was all wrong. So now, since I have long legs in comparison to my torso, I pull the steering wheel to its outer most position so that there is a nice 90 degree bend while driving. The steering height is adjusted in a way that 9-3 position is achieved. Further, the instrument binnacle should be clearly visible from that angle. In the Punto EVO however, the steering wheel does obstruct view of the large twin pod binnacle and it is a genuine problem.

    Once I adjust the steering to the desired position, I recheck by laying my wrists over the steering wheel. If my shoulder blades are still in contact with the sides of the seat, I am good to go. If not, the position isn't correct. By keeping a bend in the arms, my hands will be able to stretch out fully while taking a sharp turn. But if my hands are stretched out while going straight (to look cool), I wont be able to turn and keep my body in will lean forward to compensate. Hope I am able to explain this correctly.

    4] Head restraints-

    Head restraints are there to prevent a whip lash in collisions. But they are also there for supporting our necks on long journeys. I position the head restraint to match the top of my head.

    I know it may not be so easy to understand this without repeated trial and errors. But trust me, follow the videos, see more of them online and adjust your seating position by paying attention to how your body is responding, and you should make the most of your well designed car seat.

    The only problem I have is when people at service centres fidget around the driving position and then it takes time for me to get it all back. Having said that, I concede that some cars are just tougher to get a good driving position in. My Rapid is one such car. I test drove the Octavia a while back and because of its lower dashboard, I found it way more easier to find a good driving position.

    I hope this thread helps! And please do chip in with your views on the same..

    Last edited by roms; 24-10-2016 at 04:38 PM.
    The Italian - 2007 Canary Yellow Fiat Palio 1.6 Sport a.k.a The Bumble Bee
    The Czech/German - 2012 Candy White Skoda Rapid 1.6 MPI Automatic
    The French - 2013 b'twin ROCKRIDER 5.0

  2. #2
    Seeded Driver Finney's Avatar
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    Re: The correct seating position: An important factor in driving comfort!

    Nice informative thread Roms!

    A lot of people including Auto shows & forum complain Punto/Linea have awkward sitting position! But, they don't realize they can adjust the sitting position in different ways for an ideal driving position.

    In Linea, the best seat position for me was to fully lower the seat & then push the seat back a bit. I find it comfortable to drive.
    Once a FIATian, always a FIATian!
    2004 - Fiat Palio 1.2 NV - Silver Frost
    2006 - Fiat Palio 1.6 Sports - Canary Yellow (Preowned)
    2014 - Fiat Linea 1.3 MJD Emotion - Tuscan Wine

  3. #3
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    Re: The correct seating position: An important factor in driving comfort!

    Thank you Roms for sharing your experiences, this is really helpful

  4. #4
    Seeded Driver Punter's Avatar
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    Re: The correct seating position: An important factor in driving comfort!

    Grande Punto 90HP has got nice seats and it is easier to get the perfect driving position by the method mentioned above by Finney.

    I found Punto Evo 75HP has bit weird driving position and main culprit is head rest and they dont give you proper support and you need to lean little back to support your head.

    Safari has best seating position IMO you dont wont be tired after driving after hundreads of KMs.

    FIAT Palio S10
    TVS Apache RTR160

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