I'm 6'4" and have a pretty rough time in most cars. When I was car shopping I tried loads of different models. There are clearly a lot of nice, affordable cars in Japan; like the Nissan March, Honda Fit and Toyota Passo, but legroom can be a big pain in the arse (let's not even mention K-cars).
So let's look at five solid options for tall people in Japan:
- Nissan Cube.
Oh yeah, you know it! I love this car. The headroom is stupendous. I could wear a top-hat in this baby. It's also a beautiful car, despite maybe being aesthetically different to what Westerners are used to.
The elegant curves of the 3rd generation in particular (inside and out) are really something. It's a good choice for a family car, too. In fact there is a version of the 2nd generation called the Cube Cubic which squeezes 7 seats into only an extra 20cm length over the regular 5-seater. I'm doubtful it's quite as roomy as the regular edition, though, and misses out on the excellent boot space (although you can take out two seats very easily and enjoy the bigger-than-usual boot).
Anyway, I can't emphasise enough how much room there is in the front. The streeing wheel can be moved right up so that my legs don't even touch it getting in and out, and the dashboard is collosal - plenty of space for mascots etc, although the 3rd gen has done away with some of this in favour of sexy curves and cup-holders.
It's a joy to drive, and effortlessly cruises through the narrow streets of my small town. Expressway driving is similarly enjoyable. Excellent car, try it!
Price 300,000-1,300,000 yen used
- Toyota bB.
Similar in many ways to the Cube, although not quite as roomy in the front. The front bumper extends forward in quite an aggressive fashion, and the manacing grill and box shaped bonnet rear up in an alarming way. Good for studs.
The upholstery is fantastic. Sexy, sleek and comfortable. However the dashboard is very oddly designed. The speedomoter sits above the dash like a child's clock, and there seems to be a lot of wasted space.
All-in-all, though, a decent choice, especially for those wanting a more masculine ride. And unlike the Cube, the boot opens in the classic upwards direction more suited to the tight spaces often found in Japan.
300,000 - 1,600,000 yen used
- Toyota ist (Scion xD).
A good choice, more attractive inside and out than the bB, though slightly boring in the dash area. Good boot space, but again has a slightly brash exterior when compared to my lovely Cube (okay, so the Pokemon version is pretty cool).
400,000 - 1,500,000 yen used
- Nissan Note.
Another attractive offering from Nissan. Longer than the Cube but somehow less roomy inside. Lower head clearance, and the steering wheel is marginally lower set too, but still comfortable to drive. Plush interior. Costs a bit more than the other choices unless you get the older model.
500,000 - 1,500,000 yen used
- Honda Freed.
The rich man's choice, the Freed is the updated version of the Mobilio (also a good one) and is a big car. Significantly larger than the Cube, and very spacious inside. However it has the gearshift on the dash which is just ugly. Very plush and new in other respects, though. If you have the money this is definately worth checking out.
1,600,000-2,100,000 yen used
All-in-all you can't do better than the Cube if you're looking for something adequately sized for a decent price. There's plenty of room for me, and even if you have a few extra inches you should be fine.
Other honourable mentions go to the Subaru Dex, which seems to be an updated, more powerful version of the Toyota bB with an attractive interior, and the new Mini Clubman if you can find it in Japan (haven't tried it but it looks like a good choice).