Cars have been around for a hot second or two, haven’t they? And since their inception, cars come in all sort of shapes and sizes. This wasn’t always the case as at the very beginning, right after the filing of the patent for the automobile by Karl Benz in 1886, cars since then, for a few decades had a very similar style, like a carriage without a horse. And that’s actually what is loosely referred to in its early days. Cut to modern times and we have a truckload of options and body styles to choose from. Let’s look at some very popular and widely used styles in India.
Hatchbacks, by definition, is a car body configuration with a rear door that swings upward to provide access to a cargo area. Hatchbacks may feature fold-down second-row seating, where the interior can be reconfigured to prioritize passenger or cargo volume. Hatchbacks may feature a two-or three-box design. They might be 3-door or 5-door.
Examples – Maruti Suzuki Swift, Tata Altroz, Mini Cooper, VW Polo, Mercedes AMG A-45 etc.
A sedan is a car with a closed body (i.e. a fixed metal roof) with the engine, passengers, and cargo in separate compartments. This broad definition does not differentiate sedans from various other car body styles, but in practice, the typical characteristics of sedans are a B-pillar that supports the roof, a less steep roofline than a coupe, and a considerable interior volume. Sedans were a big hit in the Indian market for quite a long until SUVs became popular in the last decade and usurped their authority.
Examples – Honda City, Hyundai Verna, Maruti Ciaz etc.
Sport Utility Vehicle ( SUV )
SUVs are vehicles that combine on-road characteristics and off-road driving characteristics like high ground clearance, underbody protection, 4×4 etc. SUVs are built upon small truck-like chassis ( ladder frame ) but their suspension doesn’t usually consist of leaf springs.
They usually feature a rugged design, are extremely robust and built to last withstand abuse. They usually have a high centre of gravity which and hence handling aren’t an SUV’s usual strength. Although, many modern and offroading and performance SUVs handle better than you’d expect them to and inspire a lot of confidence.
Mahindra Scorpio, Tata Safari ( the one that was discontinued ), Ford Endeavour, Toyota Fortuner, Audi RS Q8, Porsche Cayenne etc.
A Coupe is typically characterised by a highly sloping/truncated rear roofline and 2 doors although many modern 4-door vehicles have also been marketed as coupes. There is a serious debate over whether or not a coupe can feature 4 seats and that debate has been initiated when Mercedes introduced the CLS class which has been marketed as a 4-door coupe.
Nevertheless, coupes usually have high-performance engines and have a lot of sporty character. Also, coupes usually have a hard rood but some like the Mclaren Mercedes SLR have a convertible roof.
Crossover ( CUV )
Crossover Utility Vehicle is like SUVs built on a unibody or a car-like platform ( monocoque ). Hence, they are crossover 2 or more body styles in terms of their characteristics. They have some SUV characteristics like high ground clearance, tall design etc with a few car-like characteristics as well like FWD, better handling, downsized engines, better ride. However, they don’t feature 4×4 drivetrains and their off-road capabilities are nowhere near a proper SUV. Currently, compact CUVs are a trend in India and is probably the most hotly contested segment in India.
Examples – Tata Harrier, MG Hector, Kia Seltos, Mahindra XUV 300, Hyundai venue etc.
MPVs are generally referred to as people movers. MPVs are relatively tall, have loads of space on the inside, and can accommodate more number of people relatively. They aren’t very performance-oriented as their main job to transport a bunch of folks from one point to another comfortably and leisurely. That doesn’t mean they don’t have good performance, they don’t have quite a lot of sporty character. They are usually FWD and hence also have a bit of car-like characteristics. They are also called minivans in some parts of the world.
Examples – Mahindra Marazzo, Maruti Ertiga, Honda Odyssey, Toyota Innova etc.
There are quite of few styles out there that aren’t as popular in India, such as the convertibles or cabriolets, which have a convertible roof that can be mechanically or in today’s world, electrically lifted up or down, picture an Audi A3 cabriolet for example. Another notable mention is a roadster. They are usually open roof vehicles and a 2-seater with sporty characteristics and high-performance engines.
Porsche Boxter is one of the all-time great roadsters. Station wagon or estates are very popular globally but not quite in India. They have an extended roofline, a D-pillar and an extra row of seats or cargo area and are usually 5-door. Volvo V60 is a famous example. Lastly, limousines. They are luxury vehicles with a large wheelbase and a partition between the driver and passenger compartment. Which one of these is your favourite?