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The Different Styles of Car Body Types | Explained

There are only a few other human inventions that have had such a phenomenal evolution journey as cars. Starting from being just a mere faster mode of transportation to having such a glorious legacy over the years. Along this journey, one aspect of cars that has diversified and changed dramatically is how they look. With the advancements in technology and engineering and also with the changing preferences of customers, cars have evolved from being a boxy machine to some of the most iconic sculptures.

Imagine a world having just one type of car, of a similar shape. Well, that world would be plain boring and also impractical as just one type of car cannot cater to the unalike needs of people. So thank god for cars with different shapes and sizes. And today, we take a look at some of the most popular car body types that have around for quite some time.

Fun Fact: Most of the names of the car body types are derived from popular vintage horse carriages due to certain similarities in configuration, styling and purpose.

Sedan/Compact Sedan

2020 Honda City
2020 Honda City Sedan | Car Body Styles Explained

When someone says the word “car” to you, chances are that the first image that comes to your mind of a sedan. The sedan is the longest existing body style. It is named after an ancient chair carriage. A sedan is characterised as a three-box configuration design with four-doors and a closed roof. They typically don’t have high ground clearance but are long and spacious enough to accommodate 4-5 people comfortable.

Further subcategories for a sedan include Compact sedan (sub-4 meter), Mid-Size sedan, Full-size sedan, two-door sedan, etc.

Suggested: What are Compact Cars (Sub-4-Meter Cars) and why size matters?

Some popular Sedans in India:

  • Maruti Dzire
  • Honda Amaze
  • Tata Tigor
  • Honda City
  • Hyundai Verna
  • Toyota Corolla
  • Honda Civic
  • Skoda Octavia

SUV/Compact SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle)

Toyota SW4 SRX7 (Toyota Fortuner)
Toyota SW4 SRX7 (Toyota Fortuner) | Car Body Styles Explained

An SUV is generally a car having high ground clearance, raised ride height, bigger proportions, off-road capabilities and in some cases the ability to seat 7-8 people. These cars originated to cater to utility services and were very basic and functional. However, the influx of tech and luxe caught up to SUVs rapidly and today some of the plushest cars are SUVs which are highly capable and a people’s favourite.

Related: What Is The Difference Between an SUV and a Compact SUV?

Some of the types of modern-day SUVs include Full-size, Compact, Sports coupe, etc.

Some popular SUVs in India:

  • Toyota Fortuner
  • Tata Safari
  • Mahindra Scorpio
  • Hyundai Creta
  • Maruti Vitara Brezza


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BS6 Compliant Tata Tiago | Car Body Styles Explained

The car body type that caters the most to the urban lifestyle is the Hatchback. Hatchback cars are not so big in size but can seat 4-5 people with ease, Have compact proportions but still looks appealing enough and have smaller engines but are peppy enough, perfect for the fast-paced, congested lifestyle of the urban areas. They are called hatchbacks for the hatch-style opening of the rear trunk door.

Hatchbacks are popularly known to be reasonable economy cars but much faster and highly-capable hot-hatchbacks though a bit expensive but are very popular amongst enthusiasts.

Top Pick: Tata Tiago vs Maruti WagonR vs Hyundai Santro | Hatchback Face-Off

Some popular Hatchbacks in India:

  • Maruti Swift
  • Tata Tiago
  • Maruti Alto
  • Hyundai i20
  • Tata Altroz
  • Volkswagen polo


Maruti Suzuki S-Cross
Maruti Suzuki S-Cross Crossover | Car Body Styles Explained

Crossovers are a typical fusion of the hatchback and the SUV body type. They have the same configurations as the hatchbacks along with some features inspired by an SUV. These cater to customers that are on a budget but want SUV features like high ground clearance and bulkier looks along with the ergonomics of a hatchback.

Some popular Crossovers in India:

  • Maruti S-cross
  • Honda WR-V
  • Maruti Ignis
  • Renault Kwid
  • Ford Freestyle

MPV (Multi-Purpose Vehicle)

Maruti Suzuki Ertiga
Maruti Suzuki Ertiga MPV | Car Body Styles Explained

This is a very high-grossing car body type in India. Crossovers are characterised as long cars having a decent ground clearance and the capability to seat 7-8 people comfortably. These cars are very popular among the fleet vehicle market as they can accommodate a lot of people without breaking a sweat. MPVs can be best suited for long road trips as it can also carry decent luggage along with the passengers. MPVs are also used for small-time commercial purposes.

Related: How the Maruti Suzuki Ertiga Dominates the MPV Segment

Some popular MPV in India:

  • Toyota Innova
  • Maruti Ertiga
  • Mahindra Marrazzo
  • Renault Triber
  • Maruti XL6

Station Wagon/ Estate Cars

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Škoda Octavia Combi | Car Body Styles Explained

These cars have a two-box configuration means that the middle row passenger and cargo space is shared in a single compartment. These can also be called sedans with an extended hunched back tailgate. These cars are called estate cars due to their capability of carrying passengers with a lot of cargo. These cars are aptly suitable for the suburban lifestyle.

In India, estate cars in the affordable segment were a thing of the past with cars like Maruti Baleno Altura, Tata Estate, Tata Indigo Marina and Skoda Octavia Combi.

Must Read: Tata Estate and Why Estate Cars (Station Wagons) Are Cool?

Current Estate cars in India:

  • Volvo V90 cross country
  • Mercedes E-class All-terrain
  • Mini Clubman


Ford Mustang 6th generation
Ford Mustang 6th Generation | Car Body Styles Explained

These are three-box configuration, fixed roof, two-door cars but are sporty and compact. Signature characteristics of coupe cars are long hood and sloping roof. These are called “coupe” based on a type of vintage carriage capable of seating two. Coupe cars are mostly high-performance cars as they are capable of stuffing big engines in their long nose. Berlinetta is another type of coupe car which has 2+2 seating capacity and extra space for luggage. Coupes also come in a four-door configuration.

Most luxury car manufacturers opt for a coupe configuration when developing a fast, high-performance car.

Popular coupe cars in India:

  • Ford Mustang
  • Porsche 911
  • Porsche 718 cayman
  • BMW M2 competition
  • Mercedes CLS

Convertibles/ Cabriolet/ Spyder

Audi A3 Convertible
Audi A3 Convertible | Car Body Styles Explained

There is no other more desirable car body type than a convertible. Convertibles are cars having a foldable or completely removable roof. There can be Hardtop,soft-top convertible cars, Targa-top or T-top convertibles. Cars having no roofs at all are called roadsters and spyder but modern-day roadster and spyder cars also have a foldable roof and hence the terms Convertibles, Cabriolets, Roadster and Spyder are used similarly.

Convertible Sedans, Hatchbacks and even convertible SUV cars also exist in the market to experience the drop-top experience at a more affordable price.

Popular Convertibles in India:

  • Porsche 718 Boxster
  • BMW Z4
  • Porsche 911
  • Audi A3
  • Mini Cooper convertible


Amitabh Bachchan Nano | | Bollywood Celebrities and their modest cars
Tata Nano | Car Body Styles Explained

Microcars are petite rides for those who want an alternate for their two-wheelers at an affordable cost. They are smaller than even hatchbacks, have but are can still accommodate at least 4 people and also have smaller engines but are sufficient enough to undertake city commutes.

Hot Topic: What actually went wrong with the Tata Nano?

Vintage Microcars are the Mini Cooper. In India, the most popular Microcar is the Tata Nano and slightly less popular microcar is the Mahindra Reva.

Fun Fact: the smallest car in the world is the Peel P50.


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These are cars which are used for political progressions and by famous people for their shenanigans. These are sedans with extended body and wheelbase and the longest type of car body type. Limousines are very impractical cars which only remain as show cars.

Pick-up trucks

Why are Pick-up Trucks not Picking up in India
Isuzu D-Max V-Cross Pick-Up | Car Body Styles Explained

Pick-up trucks are based on the platforms of their SUV counterparts. They are entirely similar with the only difference being that they come with a huge open cargo area with high payload capacity. These cars can be used as passenger cars, for commercial purposed and also extreme off-roading and hence these cars are also known as lifestyle pick-up trucks.

Must Read: Why Aren’t Pick-Up Trucks Picking Up on India?

Different types of car body styles exist only to cater to the distinct utility that a customer seeks to obtain from their cars. Hence choosing a particular body type for your new car is completely subjective to the preferences and needs of the customer. So while buying your next car, do consider all the aspects and choose the right car body type.

GoMechanic Blog on Google News

Vaibhav Arora
Vaibhav Arora
Content Developer at GoMechanic | Auto Journalist | Been a car guy ever since i remember opening my eyes | Golden Age for cars is long gone | Guilty of hooning out on the streets |



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