Automobile Terms: Car Types Detailed Explanation

by IndianAuto Team | 04/01/2019
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In the automobile industry, people’s demands are becoming increasingly diverse which consequently ends up in many types of cars. Understanding car types can help you choose the best vehicle that fit your need. From the smallest cars used for daily short travel to the most powerful automobiles, all will be informed in the article below.

City cars

If you are finding the smallest automobiles, city cars are what you are looking for. Being below-average size allows it to perform extremely well in narrow streets. Moreover, they are often built with short bumpers and utilized wheels’ size. It is no doubt that the most advantaged feature that makes city cars popular is the diminutive exterior dimensions. Because of all the aforementioned reasons, people choose it to drive around the city. However, besides the pros, you cannot carry a lot of stuff inside the limited storage space of city cars.

Polular city cars in India: Datsun redi-GO, Renault Kwid, Maruti Suzuki Alto, Hyundai Santro

Hyundai Santro golden side look

No car is better than city cars in urban areas


Sedans are quite famous for being cushy, smooth, full of useful features. And it aims for daily driving with a focus on reliability and comfort instead of driving excitement. When we think of sedans, we will likely refer to a mid or full-size car. Moreover, a sedan must follow the design of the engine in the front, four doors, a trunk at the back. However, it is hard to differ between an estate car and a sedan; estate cars also have four doors but they have an extra third-row seating which can be accessed through a liftgate.

Popular sedans in the India market: Maruti Suzuki Ciaz, Honda City, Hyundai Verna

Many people choose sedans as their daily cars

Many people choose sedans as their daily cars


A hatchback is among the largest segment of the automobile industry. Some might confuse it with other types of cars which are introduced in the below sections. A car is seen as a hatchback only if it fulfils the requirement that the rear windscreen and boot lid is designed as a component. Ford Focus, Mercedes A-Class, and Volkswagen Golf are among the most well-known hatchbacks. There is only one considerable downside of hatchbacks which is the shortage of boot space. In most case, you will have to decide whether to save seats for other family members or use them to store things. Nevertheless, there are still some models like the Honda Civic which could offer enough storage for both passengers’ seats and storage.

Popular hatchbacks in India market: Maruti Baleno, Maruti Swift, Hyundai Elite i20

hatchbacks are chosen by a large number of drivers

Besides sedans, hatchbacks are also chosen by a large number of drivers

Crossovers - CUVs

Many people compare a crossover utility vehicle (CUVs) with a combination of a chunky SUV and a hatchback. Crossovers are often lack of heavy gear which, as a result, deliver a better driving experience and more fuel efficiency. Besides, crossovers possess higher ride heights, as well as seat bases, are closer to the driver’s hips that make it easier to enter for the elderly and children. Truth be told, the only disadvantage of the CUVs is they are not really as economical as the hatchbacks.

Popular crossovers in Indian market: Ford EcoSport, Tata Nexon

Tata Nexon top look dual tone color

A crossover is a combination of a hatchback and an SUV


SUV is an abbreviation of Sports Utility Vehicle and the name says it all; SUVs are design for people who merely like to have a strong outfit car. SUVs seem to be bigger than CUVs and offer more cargo capacity and power. Unlike the rugged 4x4s which are best for whoever wants driving experience with extra off-road ability, SUVs cannot perform as good as them. This implies that SUVs are stable and comfortable at motorway speeds or in cities. Although SUVs cannot really compete with the real 4x4 cars when it comes to off-road and they have a bigger size compared to the stylish saloon cars, SUVs are still a good choice if you want a car that has some features of 4x4 cars and some of saloon cars. Another thing to keep in mind is that SUVs have a spacious interior and a large boot.


  • Large interiors, most models offer seven seats

  • Be able to perform well on a slippery/muddy ground

  • High driving position


  • Less fuel efficient than other cars

  • Expensive

  • Tricky and bulky to manoeuvre

Popular SUVs in India: Mahindra XUV500, Tata Harrier, Hyundai Creta. Toyota Fortuner

SUVs car in India Toyota Fortuner, Tata Harrier

SUVs are known as sporty cars, obviously

Off-roaders or 4x4s

Travelling off-road requires a car with powerful engines and a tough build to overcome rugged or muddy terrains. If you need such cars, go for a 4x4 or an off-roader! Most of their models come with giant ‘ladder’ frames which make them nearly unstoppable in any terrain. Of course, they are literally huge and have enough space for many people. However, they have to exchange the agility, stability, and fuel efficiency for the off-road ability.

Popular off-roaders in India: Mahindra Thar, Force Gurkha Extreme

mahindra Thar 2018 front look India

You can say an off-roader is a monster car!


MPVs are considered practical vehicles which appeal to anyone who needs a spacious interior, especially families. Large models often have seven seats, usually with the rear rows folding flat into the floor to create a van-like load bay. The fairly good driving experience, as well as affordable running costs compared to other equivalent SUVs, make MPVs the ultimate option for a large family. However, a small family can benefit from the car; for example, the extra seats can be used for your children’s friends after-school or luggage.

Popular MUVs in India: Mahindra Marazzo, Toyota Innova

Mahindra Marazzo India 2019 front look

If you have a large family, go for an MPV


A Convertible is a coupe whose roof is replaced with a folding or detachable one. In other words, it is a passenger car which can be driven with or without a roof in place. Besides the methods of storing and retracting the roofs vary between models. These cars possess the sporty character of coupes and a removable roof. A convertible allows an open-air driving experience as well as the ability to provide a roof when needed.

Popular convertibles: Audi A3/A5 Cabriolet, C-Class Cabriolet, Porsche 718 Boxster

Convertibles in india Porsche 718 Boxster

A convertible can help your hair fly literally


A coupe is a two-door car with a fixed roof in a sporty design. Generally, it has either 2 seats or 4 seats placed in a 2+2 configuration which means it only has 2 seats in the rear rather than the standard of 3 seats in other car types. Because of such design, Coupes have the least interior space and, in fact, there are some models having only 3 seats in total: one for the driver, and two in the rear for the passengers.

Popular coupes: Audi RS5 Coupe, BMW M4 Coupe

Large families won't likely find convertibles attractive

Large families won't likely find convertibles attractive


The term roadster refers to a two-seat and open-top car which emphasises on sporty characteristics. The term ‘Spyder’ or ‘Spider’ is often used to indicate a roadster. In order words, Roadsters are usually seen as a subcategory of convertibles.  A downside of roadsters is their limitation of practical operations compared to saloon cars.

Popular roadsters: Porsche 911 Targa 4

Porsche 911 Targa 4

Roadsters are Spiders... Interesting, huh?

Grand Tourers

Grand tourers are expected to be luxury and performance automobile that must fulfil the design of motoring at speed, in style, safety, and comfort; in other words, it must be capable of long-distance driving with high speed. The most popular design of a GT is a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive two-door coupe with a two-seat or a 2+2 arrangement. A Grand Tourer is usually more expensive and bigger than other types of cars and it also has lesser models.

Although GT’s back seats are usually a bit more spacious than the average coupe, it cannot overwhelm a saloon car. Moreover, every GT often possess extremely powerful engines underneath the bonnet so that they can receive sufficient power to operate at very high speeds, which actually drains the fuel as fast as lightning. However, if a person has enough money to purchase a grand tourer, he or she will not care much about fuel consumption.

There are few Grand Tourers due to its strict requirements in terms of design and performance

There are few Grand Tourers due to its strict requirements in terms of design and performance

By basing on your need and pocket as well as the information above, you will find which types of cars that fit you. For more car reviews and tips click here.

Read more: 

SUV vs Crossover vs Minivan

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