Six stress-free cars to bring Zen to your commute

September 26, 2014 by

Everyone experiences stress at some point or another. Whether it’s work, life, family or friends, things are rarely easy.

But these stresses are a drop in the ocean compared to the rush-hour commute. The UK’s road network is at breaking point around big cities, meaning stop-start traffic, miles of tailbacks and drivers taking ever-greater risks to get to work on time. So the last thing you need is a car that adds to the stress.

Modern cars insist on being ‘sporty’ and complicated, rather than comfortable, serene and simple. Carmakers strive for Nurburgring lap times rather than comfort on pock-marked British roads. All the while, ‘convenience’ features and gizmos are so becoming so complicated that tuning the radio requires a computing degree.

So, to buck that trend, carwow has sifted around for the most comfortable, easiest to live with cars on the market today.

Citroen C4 Cactus

The quirky Citroen SUV bucks the trend for firmly sprung, expensive hatchbacks (yeah, we’re looking at you, Audi A3 S-Line…) with a million buttons on the dash (hang your head in shame, Ford Focus with the outrageously complicated Sony stereo system).

Instead it has gone all minimalist; taking everything out of the car that you don’t need, and leaving in only the basics. It has a central touchscreen with big obvious controls to press, a dial screen, a steering wheel, handbrake and pedals, and little else to distract you. It doesn’t feel basic, but it does feel simple – as our full review shows.

It also has some excellent design features, like handy storage compartments, a heat-reflecting glass roof and a passenger airbag mounted in the roof to free up dashboard space. The suspension is soft and cossetting, and the bodywork even more so with pillowy rubber ‘Airbumps’ on the outside to stop other, more stressed-out people people smashing your doors in supermarkets. Ultimate Zen.

Honda Jazz

Many road testers would consider this a fairly mediocre car, but perhaps that’s the best thing about it. There’s no ‘shock and awe’ with the little Jazz, it’s just simple, basic motoring done well. It doesn’t handle as well as a Fiesta, it doesn’t have the style of the new Clio, and it isn’t as luxurious inside as the VW Polo.

But it does one thing very well indeed. Testers agree that it is possibly the easiest car to drive on the market today. The clutch, steering, brakes and gears are all engineered to be light, slick and intuitive, so even when you’ve had an exhausting day in the office or shepherding kids, you can climb in, take a deep breath and just drive. Excellent visibility makes it refreshingly easy to park, and the instinctive-to-use dashboard is easy as 1, 2, 3. No worries.


Skoda Superb

Airport taxi drivers love the Superb. This is very important, because the last thing a long-haul taxi driver wants is a car that is uncomfortable (for driver and passengers alike), difficult to drive and confusing.

The big Skoda offers loads of space for the driver, and acres of room for rear passengers to luxuriate and relax. This makes it perfect not only for cabbies, but drivers who reguarly carry adults or have demanding teenage kids. If the passengers are happy, the driver’s happy. It’s also easy to operate, and although there’s a fair few buttons, they’re all where you expect them to be. You can also get voice control for the satnav and radio, which is great.

Perhaps the Superb’s best feature (and the reason why people buy them over cars twice the price) is the ride. Testers claim it offers such a cosseting, quiet and controlled ride, that nothing short of large executive cars can match it. It makes blasting down the M4 feel like sitting in your living room. It’s a bit big for parking though, so loses marks there.


Jaguar XK

A common misconception amongst sports car manufacturers is that the faster they are, the harder and more uncomfortable they have to be to suit.

Jaguar sticks two very British fingers up at this notion, instead providing the XK with both the performance and handling you expect of something in the Porsche 911 class, but also the ride and refinement of a proper GT car.

So on the road, where the 911 would crash and thump into potholes, the big Jag just glides over them in style. Even the Mercedes SL can’t hold a candle to it for waftiness. It also offers a truly Jaguar interior: bathed in ambient lighting and leather, it’s a relaxing, luxurious and classy place to spend time. Perhaps the worst thing about it, and something that might introduce a little stress, is that Jaguar has stopped making it. Find one on the forecourt before your only option is to buy the firmly-sprung, aggressive F-Type instead…

Nissan Leaf

Electric cars of the past were often unpleasant little plastic boxes, like the G-Wiz. Nowadays though, they are much like conventioncal cars, and one of the pioneers of this paradigm shift was the (now UK-built) Nissan Leaf.

Launched in 2010, it showed that a battery-powered car didn’t have to be any different from a normal one. On the move, the only big difference is a pleasant one: the uncanny silence. The motor barely makes a sound, so you cruise along in complete tranquility, aided by hushed wind and road noise.

Even on the motorway it’s quiet, but around town little short of a hybrid Lexus or V12-powered Rolls-Royce can match it for eeriness and serenity. Its also silky smooth to drive, and the interior is a calming place to be. You can shut out the stresses of the outside world and pretend you’re alone in the countryside.


Rolls Royce Phantom

Yeah, we know, at this sort of money you’ll probably have someone doing the driving for you. But even if you’re a passenger, forget the S-Class, and even the Jaguar XJ, since nothing competes with the big Rolls for stress-free motoring.

£290,000 buys you an awful, awful lot of luxury, and as a passenger nothing is more soothing than sliding your feet into the thick shagpile carpets. But then you feel the reclining rear seats, and you’re transformed to another place. Champagne? You’ll find it in the fridge next to you. It even has a computer built into the rear seat tray, so you never need leave the car to fire your employees.

On the move, there’s no real sense that you are travelling, other than the scenery moving past the windows. Even the 6.75 litre V12 is nowhere to be heard. And when Lord Sugar does finally take the wheel, he’ll find everything so easy. It’s luxury, but everything gadgety is either easy to operate or hidden away behind sliding panels until you need it. If we had a million pounds…

Got a better suggestion?

If you think you know of a more relaxing car than the ones we’ve suggested then we’re all ears. Use the comments below to tell us what we missed out, and why!