The bulkiest cars are so heavy that drivers may be breaking the law (2023)

Hulking SUVs and weighty electric cars are becoming so heavy that drivers are verging on needing an HGV licence to legally drive them, claims a new report.

Owners of the heaviest cars today could already unwittingly be breaking the law because the sheer bulk of their motors could exceed the legal limit for a standard driving licence, says Carwow.

The likelihood of this is extremely low and would require drivers to load up their cars to an extreme level, though it does highlight how much heavier modern day cars have become.

It identified the ten weightiest motors on sale today (listed below) and warned that packing them with big adults passengers and a large dog in the boot could put the motor's weight beyond the legal threshold of a car licence, which could see them stung with a fine of up to £300 and receive points.

A weight on your mind: The bulkiest of new cars on sale today are so heavy that loading them up with passengers could put motorists dangerous close to breaking the law for having the wrong driving licence

The legal maximum authorised mass (MAM) - inclusive of up to eightpassengers and additional load - for someone with a standard 'Category B' car driving licence is3.5 tonnes.

What is maximum authorised mass?

Maximum authorised mass (MAM) refers to the total weight of a vehicle including the maximum load that can be carried safely when it’s being used on the road.

For cars, this can be inclusive of up to a maximum passengers, granted the vehicle has enough seats for them.

MAM is also known as gross vehicle weight or permissible maximum weight.

It will be listed in the owner’s manual of a car and is normally shown on a plate or sticker fitted to the vehicle.

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Anything above that weight means a conventional licence becomes invalid and aCategory C1 driving licence would be needed, which can only be attained by sittinga separate driving test to prove you have the capacity to operate a vehicle weighing up to 7.5 tonnes.

However, this isn't the case for older motorists who have been qualified to drive on the road for 25 years.

Anyone who attained their licence before January 1997 have automatic rights -known as 'grandfather rights' - to drive vehicles up to 7.5 tonnes as they were granted the C1 entitlement when they passed.

It means only drivers younger than 42 are susceptible to the vehicle weight issue raised by Carwow.

According to its research, the two heaviest motors on sale in Britain right now both tip the scales at a colossal2.7 tonnes.

The models in question are the £145,000 electric BMW XM and luxurious £170,000 Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 SUV, both of which measure in at 2,710kg.

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The heaviest maximum vehicle weight for driver with only a standard 'Category B' driving licence is 3.5 tonnes. Going over that weight requires a 'Category C1' HGV licence. Anyone who attained their licence before January 1997 will already have C1 entitlement through 'grandfather rights'

Ten of the heaviest cars on sale

=1.BMW XM (plug-in hybrid) - 2,710kg

=1. Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 (petrol) - 2,710kg

3. Range Rover PHEV (plug-in hybrid) - 2,695kg

=4. Range Rover Sport PHEV (plug-in hybrid) - 2,660kg

=4. Rolls-Royce Cullinan (petrol) - 2,660kg

6. BMW i7 (electric) - 2,640kg

7. Rolls-Royce Phantom Extended Wheelbase (petrol) - 2,610kg

8. Bentley Bentayga Hybrid (plug-in hybrid) - 2,570kg

9. Tesla Model X Long Range Performance (electric) - 2,562kg

19. Mercedes EQV (electric) - 2,560kg

Source: Carwow

NB: Vehicle weights based on kerb weight listed byDIN (Deutsches Institut für Normung), the German organisation that defines standards for measurement which defines standards for measurement

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Adding five - very heavy - adult occupants each weighing 120kg (18st 12lb) would bring these vehicles' gross weights to 3,310kg.

While you'd also need to be loading cargo like an Italian Job driver stealing gold bullion to exceed the 3.5-tonne driving licence limit, Carwow says there is a small chance of motorists infringing the rules unwittingly.

In fact, drivers would be breaking the law before they breached the 3.5-tonne mark based on the manufacturer's own recommendations.

BMW, for instance, says the gross permitted vehicle weight (GVW) for the XM is 3,300kg, while Mercedes sets the boundary at 3,250kg for the GLS 600.

(Video) Here's Why Everyone is Breaking the Law Now By Driving Their Cars

BMW's plug-in hybrid XM SUV, which costs north of £145,000, is one of the heaviest new cars on sale at 2,710kg

Matching the plug-in hybrid BMW is this super-luxurious Mercedes-Maybach GLS. Though priced from £170,000, not many are on the road

It is illegal to drive cars loaded above their GVW, meaning five 120kg adults would make both cars too heavy to drive, Carwow says.

Loading these cars above those gross limits would be breaking the law, with drivers risking a fine of £300 and three penalty points.

Anyone loading them above 3,500kg would be breaking the law twice: once for exceeding the cars' GVW, and once for driving a vehicle that's heavier than their licence allows them to drive.

The latter offence risks a further three to six penalty points for 'driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence'.

Among the heaviest cars on sale is the Range Rover PHEV. It tips the scales at 2,695kg, so 800kg short of the category B driving licence limit

The i7 is BMW's electric luxury saloon, which has been unveiled in the last 12 months. With its big battery onboard, it weighs2,640kg and costs just over £107,000 in UK showrooms

All the examples in the top 10 are exceptionally expensive luxury vehicles, meaning most drivers won't have to worry about this potential scenario.

While it is unlikely that owners of these models will regularly be carrying enough passengers and luggage to breach licence limits - the average weight of a player on the English rugby team, for example, is 102kg - Carwow says it is 'more than feasible' that this could be the case on infrequent occasions.

And there is a recent case of car being so heavy that it could quite easily surpass the 3.5-tonne maximum requirement for a conventional driving licence.

Earlier this week, This is Money revealed exclusive details about Latvian brand Dartz Motorz's latest armoured SUV, which without passengers or luggage tips the scale at 3,100kg.

The issue of exceeding a car's gross vehicle weight is also not unique to heavy cars.

Dacia's Jogger seven-seat estateweighs 1,205kg and has a GVW of 1,862kg, meaning if seven occupants were on board, each could weigh no more than 93.9kg on average.

Another Rolls-Royce in Carwow's top 10 heaviest new cars is the Phantom limo. At over £300,000, not many of us have to worry about its weight

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Bentley makes a plug-in hybrid variant of its Bentayga SUV, with prices for the petrol-electric version starting at £162,500. At 2,570kg, it is the eighth bulkiest model on sale in the UK

One of the only mainstream cars to make the list of 10 bulky motors is the Tesla Model X, with a lot of its weight coming from the Falcon-wing doors. It tips the scale at2,562kg officially

The £78,000 electric Mercedes EQV people carrier weighs2,560kg. That's a full tonne below the legal weight limit of a conventional driving licence allowance

Why are modern cars becoming so heavy?

Weight gain is often exacerbated by the switch to electric and hybrid cars, however, with EV battery packs being several hundred kilos, and plug-in hybrid powertrains adding significant mass to vehicles.

Three of the heaviest vehicles Carwow uncovered were electric cars, while a further four were plug-in hybrids.

Stricter safety requirements, including making cars more robust and filling them with technology to protect occupants and pedestrians, has also pushed the average weight of the latest cars much higher than they were just a decade ago.

Hugo Griffiths, consumer editor at the car sales site, admits it would be a 'rare scenario' for owners of the heaviest cars on sale today to exceed the permitted gross weight for a standard UK driving licence, but said it is sign that laws might need to change, especially with electric models likely to become leaden with even bigger batteries to boost driving range.

The Government in 2018 acted to make changes to the licence weight restrictions for electric vans driven by those with Category B permits, upping the maximum weight limit from 3.5 tonnes to 4.25 tonnes - though drivers need to sit an additional five hours of training in order to qualify. However, there is no similar allowance for electric cars.

'Cars have been getting heavier for some time now. Back in the 1970s, a family car like the Ford Cortina weighed less than 1,000kg, while the original Range Rover was a tonne or so lighter than its modern-day counterpart.

'Consumer demand and technological advancements have seen a rise in the number of creature comforts fitted to cars, with features including electric windows and climate control piling on the pounds.

'Safety improvements have also led to increasing weights. Side-impact bars, airbags, laminated glass and traction-control systems help prevent collisions or reduce their severity, but features that make cars safer also tend to increase their mass.

'Added to this is the push towards electrification: a petrol engine might weigh 150kg or so, while an EV battery pack can easily come in at 500kg.'

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FAQs

What happens if there is too much weight in a car? ›

More Strain

When you overload a vehicle it puts tons of strain on it. The tires can wear out quickly as well as overheat. This leads to expensive tire failure and the possibility of a dangerous blowout. Extra strain means the engine is also working harder to make the vehicle move.

Why have cars become so heavy? ›

In general, there are two reasons why late-model cars are much heavier than their predecessors: safety and convenience. By law, modern vehicles are required to be fitted with a variety of safety-oriented technology (anti-lock brakes, stability control and tire-pressure-monitoring systems, etc.)

What is the maximum weight of a car? ›

Class I – rated to 2,000 pounds (907 kg) Class II – rated to 3,500 pounds (1,588 kg) Class III – rated to 5,000 pounds (2,268 kg) Class IV – rated to 10,000 pounds (4,536 kg)

What is the heaviest vehicle on the road? ›

Constructed for a Russian mining company, the BelAZ 75710 weighs in at 360 tonnes, which is more than a fully-loaded Airbus A380 passenger plane. It has a payload capacity of 408,233 tonnes – the largest capacity of any dump truck.

Who is legally responsible for overloading a vehicle? ›

Whose responsibility is it to ensure a vehicle isn't overloaded? Anyone who has any part in operating, loading, reloading or driving a vehicle has a responsibility to ensure that it is not overloaded.

How much weight can I load in my car? ›

Even if the manufacturer doesn't state a payload (or directs you to a sticker on your vehicle to find it), you can estimate the capacity. Take the vehicle's gross weight rating (GVWR) and subtract the curb weight for an accurate estimate of maximum vehicle load.

Are heavy cars safer? ›

Overview. A bigger, heavier vehicle provides better crash protection than a smaller, lighter one, assuming no other differences. The part of the vehicle between the front bumper and the occupant compartment absorbs energy from crashes by crumpling.

Do heavier cars cause more road damage? ›

That means that if one vehicle carries a load of 1,500 pounds per axle and another carries a load of 3,000 pounds on each axle, the road damage caused by the heavier vehicle is not twice as much, but 2 to the 4th power as much (2x2x2x2 = 16 times as much road damage as the lighter vehicle).

Are cars becoming heavier? ›

Vehicles weigh about as much as they did 40 years ago but they are far safer, less polluting, more efficient and have more capability and convenience features. We are getting more per pound than at any time in automotive history.

What is the heaviest part in a car? ›

The heaviest part of the car is the body, followed by the chassis if this isn't a unibody type vehicle. After that would come the engine, then the transmission/differential for front wheel drive vehicles. From there, the battery, wheels and tires, and smaller items will complete the count.

What is the safest car in the world? ›

These Are The 10 Safest Cars In The World In 2022
  • 8/10 Polestar 2.
  • 7/10 Subaru Outback.
  • 6/10 Mercedes C-Class.
  • 5/10 Volvo C40.
  • 4/10 Mazda 3.
  • 3/10 Mercedes EQS.
  • 2/10 Genesis G90.
  • 1/10 Nissan Rogue Sport.
15 Aug 2022

What is the strongest car on the road? ›

Most powerful production cars
VehicleYearPower
Koenigsegg Agera RS/One:120141,000 kW (1,341 hp; 1,360 PS)
NIO EP920161,000 kW (1,341 hp; 1,360 PS)
SSC Ultimate Aero TT2009960 kW (1,287 hp; 1,305 PS)
Czinger 21C2021930 kW; 1,270 PS (1,250 hp)
36 more rows

What is the heaviest car brand? ›

Heaviest Cars In The World – Ranked
  • Volkswagen Touareg W12 – 2524 kg.
  • Buick Estate – 2351 kg.
  • Audi Q7 V12 – 2600 kg.
  • Audi E-Tron SUV – 2695 kg.
  • Tesla Cybertruck – 3000 kg.
  • Cadillac Escalade – 3447 kg.
  • GMC Hummer EV – 4,103 kg.
  • Mercedes-Benz 770 K Cabriolet Armored 4800 kg.
18 Aug 2021

How much overloading is allowed? ›

6 tonnes on Front Axle 10.2 tonnes on Rear Axle.

Is overloading a traffic violation? ›

Two sections of the law forbid overloading – Section 32 (Exceeding Registered Capacity, Issuance of Conductor's License, Validity and Fee) and Section 51 (Hitching to a Vehicle).

Who is responsible for making sure the vehicle is not overloaded? ›

The responsibility for overloading is held by the driver, not the customer, so drivers should always use their own information. Ensure that the tag/lift axle is used correctly. Neglecting to use this axle when the vehicle is loaded could cause axles or gross weights to exceed the allowed limits.

Which cars can take the most abuse? ›

These 10 Sports Cars Can Take Insane Amounts Of Abuse
  • 10/10 Lexus RC.
  • 9/10 Honda S2000.
  • 8/10 Nissan 370Z.
  • 7/10 Chevrolet Corvette.
  • 6/10 Mazda MX-5 Miata.
  • 5/10 Porsche 911.
  • 4/10 Ford Mustang.
  • 3/10 Toyota 86.
4 Jun 2022

Are big cars more likely to crash? ›

Of the 20 models with the highest death rates, 15 of them are classified as small or mini. There is an obvious trend in the data that yes, drivers are less likely to die in larger vehicles. Why is that the case? In short, a heavier vehicle carries more momentum than a lighter one.

Are SUVs actually safer? ›

Similarly, the risk to drivers of the safest midsize and large car models (Avalon, Camry, and Accord) is about the same as for the safest SUVs (Suburban, Cherokee, and Tahoe). However, the average SUV poses nearly twice the risk to drivers of other vehicles as do the average midsize and large cars.

Which vehicles cause the most road damage? ›

Engineers estimate that a fully loaded truck--a five-axle rig weighing 80,000 pounds, the interstate maximum--causes more damage to a highway than 5,000 cars. Some road planners say that the toll is even higher, that it would take close to 10,000 cars to equal the damage caused by one heavy truck.

Why are heavier cars hard to stop? ›

Yes, heavier cars are harder to stop because of inertia. In fact, how hard something is to stop is basically the definition of inertia. Inertia is a property of matter, so the more matter (weight), the more inertia, and the harder the car is to stop.

Do heavy vehicles cause potholes? ›

Trucks with multiple axles have the exponential effect on pavement surfaces compared to regular passenger vehicles. Therefore, as trucks travel over rural or residential roads, the weight causes the pavement surface to collapse, resulting in potholes.

Is car better light or heavy? ›

A lighter car may be able to change directions more quickly and brake better, but a heavier car should have more tire grip. I think that light cars are great for tight roads and tracks with a lot of changing direction but heavy cars might actually be faster in sweepers and tracks with a lot of high speed corners.

Do heavier cars ride smoother? ›

A lower sprung-to-unsprung weight ratio makes the ride harsher when there are bumps and potholes. Adding weight to the body (more sprung weight) keeps the tires more firmly attached to the road since the springs have more compressive force. In this case the car not only has a smoother ride, but also has more grip.

Do heavier cars feel faster? ›

If you take two identical cars, but increase the mass of one car, they will have the same engine power, the same aerodynamic drag, and the same rolling resistance (see Note 1 below). The only thing that has changes is the mass, and since mass is not a factor in determining top speed, so top speed should stay the same.

What vehicles are considered heavy? ›

Any vehicle exceeding 26,001 pounds is considered heavy-duty.
...
These types of vehicles are primarily used for long-haul transportation and are divided into three categories:
  • Class 7 — 26,001 to 33,000 pounds.
  • Class 8 — 33,001 or heavier.
  • Class 9 — Vehicles exceeding 60,000 pounds (super-heavy/special-duty truck)
19 Sept 2017

What is the strongest part of a car? ›

Basically, the chassis is everything that's needed to make the car move: Frame or Unibody – Everything else attaches to this, the strongest part of the vehicle.

What is the weakest part of a car? ›

Most of the time it's the loose nut behind the wheel. The transmission because it has the most moving parts.

What is the deadliest car of all time? ›

The top 20 deadliest cars: the full list
RankMakeTotal fatal crashes
1Ford10,845
2Chevrolet7,718
3Honda5,079
4Toyota4,734
8 more rows
18 Aug 2020

What is the safest state to live in? ›

Vermont was named the safest state in the U.S. for the second year in a row. Maine, New Hampshire and Utah were also the runners-up in back-to-back years.

What is the strongest car brand? ›

Best car manufacturers 2022
  1. Porsche – 90.74% Key points: Classic Porsche strong points make a great showing here, with top ratings for exterior, ride and handling, reliability and infotainment. ...
  2. Tesla – 90.50% ...
  3. Kia – 90.40% ...
  4. Peugeot – 89.28% ...
  5. Honda – 88.94% ...
  6. Jaguar – 88.90% ...
  7. Mazda – 88.89% ...
  8. Volvo – 88.35%
29 Jun 2022

What car engine is the strongest? ›

Bugatti Chiron (8.0 litre W16)

The Bugatti Chiron boasts a four turbo, 8.0-litre W16 engine, which is undoubtedly the fastest in the industry. This engine can produce 187.5 horsepower per litre, totalling 1,479 HP.

Are luxury cars heavy? ›

How heavy are luxury cars? Most are pretty heavy. They have to be because they generally have larger engines, more electronics and LOTS of sound deadening in the body to make them quieter. That's one of the things you pay for in a luxury car—in the form of increased fuel costs.

What is the heaviest SUV ever made? ›

The Ford Excursion is a heavy duty (Class 2), full-sized SUV that was produced by Ford. The longest and heaviest SUV ever to enter mass production, the Excursion was marketed as a direct competitor of the 2500-series (3⁄4-ton) Chevrolet Suburban/GMC Yukon XL.

Who is the biggest car owner? ›

The car collection of the 29th Sultan of Brunei is the largest private car collection in the world, consisting of approximately 7,000 cars, which have an estimated combined value over US$5 billion.

Can heavy weight damage your car? ›

Exceeding the Weight Limit Does Damage

If you're tempted to overload your car, truck, or SUV because you're moving or for some other reason, rethink your strategy. Overloading the vehicle so much so that it exceeds its maximum weight capacity will unnecessarily stress and damage your vehicle.

How does weight affect a car? ›

The heavier the vehicle, the more energy it needs to get moving. Extra weight also increases a vehicle's rolling resistance, which is a force that resists forward motion produced as the wheels roll over the road. This means that reducing weight is a very effective way to lower a vehicle's fuel consumption.

Does overloading a car damage it? ›

Absolutely. As you can imagine, adding loads of gear to a car increases its weight and, as a result, puts more strain on areas such as the brakes and engine. If you overload your car, you may notice that it feels physically 'heavier' to drive, with altered handling and braking characteristics.

Can you be too fat to drive? ›

“Fat to a point where what we're seeing out there is not able to handle a motor vehicle.” If people are overweight, Robert says their size can impact their ability to properly control the vehicle. “They have to bring the seat all the way back.

What is the safest vehicle in the world? ›

These Are The 10 Safest Cars In The World In 2022
  • 8/10 Polestar 2.
  • 7/10 Subaru Outback.
  • 6/10 Mercedes C-Class.
  • 5/10 Volvo C40.
  • 4/10 Mazda 3.
  • 3/10 Mercedes EQS.
  • 2/10 Genesis G90.
  • 1/10 Nissan Rogue Sport.
15 Aug 2022

Do heavier cars drive better? ›

The short answer is that, all else equal, the heavier car will have better traction when accelerating, and worse traction when turning or braking.

Is a 3000 lb car heavy? ›

An average car has a weight of 2800-pounds. This means that a 3000-pounder is within the limits of an average vehicle. Most vehicles under this limit are sedans, small trucks, and minivans. As such, a 3000-pound is not that heavy.

Does weight really matter in cars? ›

Weight is important when two vehicles collide. The bigger vehicle will push the lighter one backward during the impact. That puts less force on the people inside the heavier vehicle and more on the people in the lighter vehicle.

What happens if you tow over your capacity? ›

Max towing capacity should not be taken lightly. Exceeding what your vehicle is designed to tow can strain your engine and transmission, accelerate brake wear, damage your tires and even warp your chassis. This could in turn trigger catastrophic failure while driving and could lead to property damage or serious injury.

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