I love the feel of the small, thicker steering wheels in cars today.
They make even the most boring cars feel more fun to drive. The steering wheel of a car first needs to meet the practical purpose for which it was designed.
Then it should feel good in your hands since this is your primary point of contact with the car.
Steering wheels in most cars before the 1980s were gigantic to overcome the lack of power steering.
The larger size provided more leverage to make turning the wheels at lower speeds manageable.
Here are some of our favorite cars with small steering wheels.
1. Volkswagen Golf GTI
The standard steering wheel size for a car is 15-inches in diameter. The 2022 Toyota Camry’s steering wheel has a 15-inch diameter.
You would think that given the association of small steering wheels with sporty driving (think Formula 1 cars for instance) that the production car with the smallest steering wheel on our list would cost somewhere in the neighborhood of six figures.
But that honor goes to the Volkswagen GTI which makes use of a steering wheel with a slight diameter of only 12.6-inches.
2. Chevrolet Corvette
The C8 Corvette brings many firsts to the nameplate.
This is the first Corvette with a rear-mounted engine. The first Corvette not to offer a manual transmission.
And the first production Corvette with a square steering wheel – it has a 13.75-inch diameter.
Chevy claims that the squared-off shape, with its flat bottom and flat top is designed to be comfortable to hold while providing uninterrupted visibility of the gauges.
Another reason for GM’s design was to address complaints about how the steering wheel in the C6 Corvette made getting in and out difficult.
3. Lamborghini Aventador
With a sticker price of half a million dollars and a 0 to 60 time of 2.7 seconds.
The final Aventador is a 769 HP hypercar with a diminutive steering wheel to help you keep it on the road.
It’s the same 13.78-inch steering wheel that Lamborghini has used since the Aventador’s introduction in 2011 and we’re not complaining.
It looks good, feels good and suits the jet fighter style cockpit.
As big as the car is compared to the Huracan, the car shrinks around you and doesn’t feel any more cumbersome to drive.
4. Pagani Zonda
Yup, Pagani is still making Zondas.
The debut of the Huayra didn’t spell the swan song for the beloved Zonda after all.
As beautiful and technologically advanced as the Huayra is compared to the Zonda, it’s a testament to just how right Pagani got things the first time around.
For enough money, the Italian company will make a Zonda for you at your request.
The standard Zonda features a Mercedes-Benz AMG V12 engine with either a six-speed semi-automatic or five or six-speed manual transmission.
The car communicates with you about what’s going on the road through a steering wheel with a 13.78-inch diameter.
5. BMW Z4
Just as small is the steering wheel in the BMW Z4 which you can get at just a fraction of the cost of a new Zonda.
Even older than the Lamborghini Aventador, it’s easy to forget that the Z4 debuted way back in 2003.
It was a complete redesign of the retro Z3 which made its first appearance on Pierce Brosnan’s Golden Eye.
Like the Chevrolet Corvette, however, the new Z4 doesn’t offer a manual transmission.
But like the Pagani Zonda, it also comes with a steering wheel boasting a small 13.78-inch diameter.
6. Subaru BRZ
Driving enthusiasts were enamored by the Subaru BRZ when it was introduced in 2013.
Now in its second generation the new BRZ promises all the same driving excitement at a bargain price.
Small, light and nimble, you can feel its vivid steering feedback through the picayune 14.25-inch diameter steering wheel.
Just as confidence inspiring is the low effort six-speed manual transmission.
The result is responsive handling with impressive cornering grip.
But unlike the cars we’ve shown you so far, the BRZ is practical offering more interior storage space.
7. Ford Mustang
Still affordable in comparison to some other cars on this list.
But more expensive than the Subaru BRZ is the Ford Mustang depending on the model you choose. And indeed, as the only car that the company currently produces.
There’s a Mustang for every lifestyle and personality.
Regardless of the Mustang you choose, you’ll be gripping a bijou steering wheel with a 14.5-inch diameter. All models are fun to drive.
And Mustangs like the Subaru BRZ are one of the few new cars that still offer a manual transmission.
8. Ferrari 812 Superfast
We were surprised to learn that the corporate steering wheel used in Ferrari cars like the 812 Superfast is bigger than the Ford Mustang which has a larger production number.
The steering wheels in Ferraris like this 812 Superfast have a 14.57-inch diameter.
It seems this 812 Superfast is about your only option if you want a Ferrari with a V12 engine these days.
The great news is if you’re cross-shopping it with the Lamborghini Aventador, you can pick up the 812 Superfast for $100,000 less.
9. Porsche 718 Cayman
Porsches surprisingly have the biggest steering wheels of any car on the list. The steering wheel on this Porsche 718 Cayman has a 14.75-inch diameter.
This is a Porsche I’ve had my eye on since it debuted back in 2017. The midship position of the engine gives the 718 Cayman and Boxster a handling advantage over the 911.
The Porsche 718 Cayman is a wonderfully engineered sports car and now the top GT4 and GT4 RS models gain Apple CarPlay.
But the S model is the one I’m after and you know its got to have a manual transmission.