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Why coupes and child seats don't quite mix

Stephen Corby
Contributing Journalist
CarsGuide

4 Aug 2014 • 5 min read

You may be able to squeeze child seats in the back of that two-door coupe you’re lusting after, but you won’t want to do it every day.

It’s probably best to think of a sharp, stylish coupe - like BMW’s new 428i - as a slightly-too-skinny pair of jeans. 

You know the ones; bought in a flurry of optimism because you were feeling fit and determined that day and now they sit, barely worn, on your slim pile, the clothes you’re definitely going to get into… one day.

A sexy coupe is like that because it looks so great in the shop, it makes you feel hotter than Hades when you try it on and yet, as sure as fatter days follow skinny ones, it will, eventually, fail to fit your lifestyle.

If you already have children, this realisation will hit you within a week of driving your beautiful new car home (and if you don’t have kids, or more than one friend, it won’t strike you until you or your better half get pregnant). 

It is possible - Sure, in the BMW showroom you were mightily impressed with how the passenger seat tips so far forward and how there’s a handy button on the bolster, which you just press and hold while the whole thing slides elegantly (aka slowly) forward, leaving you with what looks like plenty of room to get a child in there.

Sadly you probably didn’t take your child seat to the showroom. Fitting that accursed contraption in the back of a coupe is merely a foul foretelling of the bothersome times to come as you soon realise you have to climb into the surprisingly small rear footwell to do so.

When the time comes to strap your young one in, you’ll feel like you’ve clambered into one of those automatic photo booths backwards and are trying to take a particularly unflattering picture of your own butt.

Your child will feel smothered, although not necessarily with love, as you may be fighting hard not to let any swear words loose at this point.

To be fair, the first half-dozen times you do the head-down, bum-up, knees-in-chin dance in and out of the car’s rear, it’s not that bad, and afterwards you quickly forget it as the joy of driving this beautiful, ballsy and involving car overcomes you.  

But you’ll soon tire of it - It surely does wear you down, even over the course of just a week, and you start trying to talk your toddler into just waiting in the car for one minute while you pop out, rather than having to extract them, which is all the fun of the photo-booth again, plus the added effort of trying to lift and separate them from the car through an all-too-small aperture.

It’s hard to explain why so many people do put up with this - it’s incredible how many coupes you do see with child seats squeezed in the back - but it’s probably something to do with the eternal pursuit of beauty. Cars with two doors simply look a lot better than those with more.

This has led many car companies, starting with Mercedes-Benz and its CLS and now copied by the 4 Series Gran Coupe, to create four-door coupes; vehicles that attempt to look like they have only two doors.

This is all done with a sloping roofline, which, sadly, makes putting your child in its seat akin to putting something large and heavy in an oven. There’s no way you can get your head in at the same time as your arms, so you’re forced to leave your chin on the roof and just shove them in as best you can. 

In a nutshell - Our advice, if you’re considering a coupe, is to think of the children, please. Not for their sake, necessarily, but more for your own. Thus a 3 Series sedan, wagon or GT make a better choice than a 4 does, and pretty much any car with actual back doors is going to make life easier. 

For sheer ease of access, anything SUV-shaped makes putting children in the back a breeze, but if you want to stay closer to the ground, the capacious rear seats of any VF Commodore are also a winner.