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Breaking down boots, frunks and other quandaries when buying a car

By Maxine Ashford | March 11, 2024


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For anyone with the slightest sign of number blindness buying, owning and driving a car can be a complete mental minefield

Breaking down boots, frunks and other quandaries when buying a car

For anyone with the slightest sign of number blindness buying, owning and driving a car can be a complete mental minefield.

For starters, all the sat nav instructions simply assume we can easily calculate what 200 yards equates to. I hear “turn left in 200 yards” and my brain gets me thinking about how long it took Usain Bolt to sprint round half an Olympic athletics track, which is 200 metres. By the time all those calculations have taken place, the turning has long gone and the system is ‘recalculating’ my route. It was 19.19 seconds by the way.

Then there are the dimensions of the car itself. Take boot sizes for example, they are measured in wet and dry litres. Week after week in my job I write down these figures in car reviews and, although I know the numbers are big or small compared to other models, it doesn't really register in my brain how much stuff will actually fit.

With this thought in mind and armed with a standard-sized airline cabin bag courtesy of Thule, I went searching for some realistic answers.

The car in question for my experiment was the all-new BMW iX2, which I am reliably informed, has a boot capacity of 510 litres, increasing to 1,420 litres with the split-folding rear seats dropped flat.

But what do those numbers equate to in real-world thinking? Well, thanks to volunteers Andy and Ella, we aimed to explain things in layman’s terms … literally! That’s because they kindly agreed to lay flat out in the boot and, as you can see, Ella at 5ft 2ins fits in perfectly. On the other hand, Andy stretches 6ft 4ins which is too long for this car’s boot. That may sound trivial, but it’s useful if visiting a famous Swedish flatpack furniture store.

So, in reality the BMW iX2 boot can hold three Ellas side by side with ease or two Ellas and two or three standard cabin bags, depending on whether they are upright or laying on their sides. Isn’t that easier to comprehend than 1,420 litres?

But we now have another issue dimension-wise as many electric vehicles have a frunk of froot – quirky names for added storage beneath the bonnet (front trunk or front boot).

Once again these are measured in litres. Normally they are large enough to swallow a small holdall, some shopping or charging cables, but on exploring the multi-award-winning Kia EV9 recently, we noticed something very strange.

There is an emergency release switch inside the storage area. Now I can understand there being a manual release lever in a boot in case someone becomes trapped inside, but this space is tiny. It measures 90 litres in capacity which is probably large enough for a small dog, which unless it has been trained by Pavlov, will not have the intelligence to pull the lever to release the bonnet.

So, why is it there? We asked Kia that same question and it seems they are following US legislation, explaining: “There is a requirement in the US to have an emergency release inside the frunk/trunk in case a person is able to get inside. From Kia’s perspective, this has become standard across all Kia EV9 cars sold globally, to ensure the safety of passengers. The US rule is not currently a European requirement or legislation, but this could change in the future. Therefore, we can think of it as an additional safety feature.”

So that’s good news for contortionists out there then. 

While we have approached this in a somewhat flippant manner, hopefully we have made you think a little about how many random numbers are thrown at us every day and how we are meant to make sense of them.

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