Different types of cars (body styles) explained with PDF

The market is flooded with cars of so many different shapes and sizes. Therefore, it's important to categorize it. Out the ways to classify cars, the simplest one is to classify the types of cars based on their body style.

This is The Mechanical post and today we'll see about the Different types of cars available in the market, be it an SUV or an Estate car along with their names.

Get your copy of the PDF on Types of cars at the end of this article.

Types of cars

Types of cars 

  • Sedan 
  • Estate car / Station wagon
  • Hatchback
  • Coupe
  • Microcar
  • Limousine
  • Convertibles / Cabriolet
  • Roadster / Spyder
  • Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV)
  • Minivan / MPV
  • Sportscar

#1. Sedan / Saloon

A sedan has 4 doors with a closed roof. It comes with a front portion housing the engine, the middle portion that accommodates the driver & passenger area, and the rear portion with the boot.

The sedan is the one that everyone recognizes as "the car". The word "Sedan" is usually used in American English, whereas the word "Saloon" is used in British English.

You may find sedans in a wide range of budgets. The sedan can be classified into 3 categories.
  • Full-size sedan
  • Mid-size sedan
  • Compact sedan

Full-size sedan

The full-size sedan has a longer wheelbase than the others and can be seen in the luxury segment with cars like Mercedes  S class, BMW 7 series, Audi A8, Tesla Model S, etc.

Mid-size sedan

Just as the name suggests mid-size sedans have a medium wheelbase, performance, and trim options. Here you can find cars like Hyundai Elantra, Skoda Octavia, Tesla Model 3 etc.

Compact sedan

These are smaller and trim-down versions of the Mid-size. Some popular names in this sub-category include Honda City, Suzuki Swift Dzire, Volkswagen Vento,  Hyundai Verna, etc.

#2. Estate car / Station Wagon

Station Wagon - Type of car body

The estate car or the station wagon can be recognized by its long roofline with a shared passenger and boot space.

Unlike sedans, which have a trunk boot separate from the passenger area, the station wagons come with a tailgate. Also, the rear seats of the station wagon are foldable to make extra room for the luggage at the back.

The station wagon used to come in 2 door configuration like the BMW touring E30 2 door. However, nowadays 4 door estate wagons are more to be seen around.

The station wagon can offer the sportiness of a sedan with the practicality of an SUV. {alertInfo}

The widely known estate cars include:
  • Mercedes Benz E Class Wagon, 
  • Volvo V60, 
  • Mini Cooper Clubman,
  •  Audi A6 Avant, etc.

#3. Hatchback

Hatchback - Type of car body

The hatchback can be termed as a "small station wagon". Just like the station wagon, it has a shared passenger and boot space with a tailgate known as the "hatch". Now you know from where they got their name.

The hatchbacks enjoy a lot of popularity in the sub-compact segment. 

Hatchbacks are usually referred to as 3-door or 5-door. This is because the rear tailgate (hatch) is also considered as a door to the existing 2 doors or 4 doors.

Some of the popular hatchbacks include the 
  • Volkswagon Golf, 
  • Tata Altroz, 
  • Hyundai i20, 
  • Ford Figo, 
  • Honda Jazz, 
  • Maruti Suzuki Swift, 
  • Mini Cooper 3 door, etc.

#4. Coupe

Coupe - Type of car body

A coupe is a car with a sloping roofline, a small trunk, and two doors. They have a sportier look to them. Take for example the Ford Mustang or the Mercedes S Class Coupe.

However, nowadays the coupe is not just limited to 2 doors only. Automobile manufacturers are now giving the name "coupe" to their 4 door SUVs, sedans, and crossovers like the Porsche Cayenne Coupe and the Mercedes GLE Coupe.

When it comes to sportier, sleek, and attractive looks coupe are hard to beat.

Some of the popular coupe in the market include:
  • Ford Mustang
  • Chevrolet Corvette
  • BMW M8
  • Porsche 718.

#5. Micro-car

Micro-car | Types of Car body

A micro-car is a car smaller than the hatchback with 2 doors just big enough to either fit 4 or 2 people. It has a small wheelbase and small engines (less than 700 cc). 

Micro-cars are for commuting within the city or short distances. They usually don't have a boot space but in some micro-cars, you can carry a backpack or two. 

The Tata Nano micro-car was a huge success in India as it was way cheaper than any other car and came with basic features. 

#6. Limousine

Limousine | Types of Car body

The Limousine or as people say a Limo is nothing but a "stretched sedan". It has a very long wheelbase and a number of wheels. 

The driver's cabin of the limo is usually the same as that of a normal sedan. However, the passenger's compartment is extremely spacious and can seat a number of people. They also come with a lot of luxury features on board and a hefty price tag.

Limousines have a partition between the driver and the passenger. These cars have been popularized by politicians and VIPs and are looked at as a status symbol

Fun Fact: 
The American Dream has the Guinness book of world record for the longest limousine in the world measuring 100 feet in length with 26 wheels! {alertInfo}

Nevertheless, these cars are not practical and with increasing traffic and congestion on the roads, their usage is limited to a few people.

The most popular Limousine is the one of the President of the U.S  which is nicknamed "The Beast". 

#7. Convertible / Cabriolet 

Convertible car

A convertible/cabriolet is a car that has a removable or foldable roof. This roof can be either hardtop (made of metals or plastics) or soft-top (made of canvas or vinyl). 

You can find 4 seater convertibles like the Mercedes C class cabriolet or the Rolls Royce Dawn as well as 2 seater convertibles like the BMW Z4 or the Jaguar F type convertible.

#8. Roadster / Spyder

Spyder/ Roadster
The Roadster or a spyder is quite similar to a convertible but they have only 2 seats. A convertible may have 2 or 4 seats, however, the roadster or a spyder will be a 2 seater.

You would find the word spyder or roadster used commonly by supercar manufacturers like the Porsche 718 Spyder, Lamborghini Huracan EVO Spyder, Ferrari 488 Spider, etc.

#9. Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV)

SUV | Types of car body

The Sports Utility Vehicle commonly known as the SUV is a car with off-road capabilities, a muscular look, a powerful engine, a large boot space and a 4 Wheel Drive. 

SUVs are tall having good ground clearance due to which the driver has a good view of the road ahead. They come with 2 or 3 rows of seats that can be folded down to make more room whenever needed.

Just like the Sedan, SUVs are available over a wide range of budgets consisting of Full size (like the BMW X7,  Ford Endeavour), Mid-size (like the Range Rover Evoque, Jeep Compass) as well as compact SUV (like the Kia Seltos, Ford Ecosport, etc).

One can find a Luxury SUV like the Mercedes Maybach GLS well as sportier options like the Range Rover Sport in the market.

SUVs enjoy good popularity in all the segments and are the fastest growing car type that is taking over the masses.

Nowadays, manufacturers like Lamborghini, Aston Martin, Porsche, Bently, Rolls Royce have entered the SUV market due to its immense popularity.

#10. Minivan / MPV

Minnivan / MPV

The Minivan or also known as the Multi-Purpose Vehicle (MPV) can be recognized by its tall stance, engine at the front, driver and passenger compartment in the middle, and hatch at the back. It may have conventional 4 doors or sliding doors. 

Have 7 to 8 people fit in your car? You can get an MPV with 3 rows of seating in it like the Toyota Innova which is quite popular in India. 

Minivans do come with luxury trims as transport vehicles for businesses and their clients like the Mercedes Benz V class.

Some of the popular Minivan or MPV include:
  • Maruti Suzuki Eco
  • Kia Carnival
  • Toyota Vellfire
  • Toyota Innova
  • Mahindra Marazzo

#11. Pick-up truck

Pick-up truck | Types of car body

The pick-up truck can be recognized by the engine at the front - the passenger's cabin in the mid - and an open cargo area at the rear. It has a muscular and rugged design capable of carrying heavy luggage as well as towing vehicles.

These are similar to the SUV except that of the open cargo area. Pick-up trucks are popular in North America and have a significant percentage of the market share.

Recently, Tesla has also unveiled its electric pick-up truck called the "Cybertruck" to enter into the pick-up truck market.

The popular Pick-up trucks in the market include:
  • Ford F-150
  • Ram 1500 Rebel
  • Chevrolet Colorado
  • Chevrolet Silverado

#12. Sportscar

Supercar | Type of car body

A sportscar is a 2 door car with high performance, aerodynamic & lightweight design, very little ground clearance, and superb looks. They come in coupe as well as convertibles.

Sports cars come equipped with powerful engines churning out a monstrous amount of horsepower and torque. 

These are cars that are built for speed. These cars are a mixture of high-performance, top-end materials, driving experience, and expertise.

Sportcars usually have a small boot space enough for a bag or two. 

The most popular sportcars include the:
  • Mercedes AMG GT.
  • Nissan GTR.
  • Ford GT.
  • Porsche 718.
  • Dodge Challenger.

There is another part of the sports cars that are known as the "Supercars" and "Hyper-cars". It is the performance, materials, exclusivity, and expertise that set the supercar & hypercar apart from the normal sports car. 

The hypercars are the topmost part of the supercars. They are the best of the best. Truly an engineering marvel. 

All Hypercars are Supercars, however, not all Supercars are Hypercars.

Hypercars are exclusive and are very limited in numbers. Some of the well-known names include:
  • Buggati Chiron,
  •  Ferrari La Ferrari, 
  • McLaren Senna, 
  • Lamorghini Centenario,
  •  Pagani Huyara etc.


These were the major types of cars, however there other smaller sub-types as well as fusions like the Crossover Utility Vehicle (CUV).  The CUV sits somewhere between an SUV and a Hatchback.

Take an example of the Honda Civic, on looking at it from the front it looks like a sedan, on the side, it has a coupe-like appearance and at the back, it has a hatch (tailgate) like a hatchback.

Honda civic - Type of car
Image credits - VauxfordCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

So in what category would you place this car? Do let us know in the comments.


Image credits 

All the above Animated Images are Free to use with proper Attribution to The Mechanical post.


We will be back with another informative & interesting article, till then Keep Learning! 


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