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Ever come across the terms 'hatchback' or 'sedan' and wondered what they mean? Well, those are just descriptions of car body styles or the type/form of vehicle design. In this short guide, we explain the different kinds of car designs out there.
This is just a guide for beginners. Most of you would probably know all this, but there are many who don't.
Modern-day design increasingly sees body styles merging and being influenced by designs of all categories of vehicles, but we have tried to keep it simple. Here, we bring to you the basic car body types available in the country today.
A sedan, also called a saloon, is a passenger car with a bonnet covering the engine and a separate boot for luggage at the rear. This is one of the most popular body styles of cars today and can seat at least four people. A sedan is also known as a ‘three-box' design. An example of a sedan is the Honda City.
A hatchback is a car with a sloping back and a hinged rear door that opens upwards. These cars differ from SUVs, MPVs or vans by being much more compact. Hatchbacks usually have seating for four-five people and is almost always a tight squeeze. An example of a hatchback is the Maruti Suzuki Swift.
An SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle) is similar to an estate, but usually bigger and higher off the ground. SUVs are often offered with four-wheel-drive and are designed for both on-road and off-road use. Some have the towing capacity of a pickupand offer the passenger-carrying capacity of a minivan or large sedan. An example of an SUV is the Ford Endeavour.
MPVs (Multi-Purpose Vehicles) feature a one- or two-box design and are taller than station wagons. They often see estate-like interior appointments and are generally regarded as people-carriers, people-movers, minivans, or MUVs (Multi Utility Vehicles). MPVs are designed to be spacious and usually get three rows of seating to accompany seven or more passengers. An example of an MPV is the Toyota Innova Crysta.
Estates (or station wagons) have a body style similar to a sedan, but with an extended rear luggage or cargo area. These cars have a two-box design with the passenger compartment extending over where the boot would have been in a saloon. They are usually based on sedans and often share the same frontal design. Estates are not very common in India, but an example is the Audi RS6.
A crossover is a vehicle built on a car platform but often with featuressuch as SUV-like increased ground clearance and a higher seating position. Crossovers are typically designed only for light off-roading. An example of a crossover is the Ford Freestyle.
Coupes (correctly written as 'coupé') are often the sportier variants of saloon cars, with doors reduced from four to two. However, coupe body style varies from carmaker to carmaker, and now there are even four-door coupes like the Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class. The name ‘coupe' comes from the French verb ‘couper'; meaning ‘to cut'. An example of a two-door coupe is the Ford Mustang, while the automotive industry is even witnessing abominations like SUV-coupes.
A convertible (or cabriolet) is a body style with a foldable or retractable roof. Such cars often have a canvas or vinyl roof (soft top) while some examples have roofs made of plastic, aluminium or steel (hard top). Convertibles are usually two-door cars. An example of such a car is the BMW Z4.
A pickup is a Light Motor Vehicle (LMV) with an open rear cargo area known as ‘bed'. They are extremely popular in the USand feature factory-built integrated beds. The term also applies to coupe-style utility vehicles that are based on a car chassis or a dedicated platform. Such pickups are called ‘utes' in Australia and New Zealand. They are often available with two or four doors for the passenger compartment and are called single-cab pickups or double-cab pickups, respectively. An example of a pickup is the Isuzu D-Max V-Cross, which features a double-cab design.