With so many cars on the roads and being manufactured right now, there are a plethora of names people have given their cars. This can cause confusion for potential new car leasers about what is it that really want and what car will fit their needs. Well, in this blog we go through and explain the meaning of a few body styles and some examples to go with them.
A hatchback is the most common type of car on British roads. A car becomes a hatchback when it has a rear door (the boot) which opens upwards. A hatchback can vary in size and can come as a 3 door or a 5 door.
A sportback is a fancy way of describing a 5 door hatchback commonly used by Audi.
Examples of a sportback are Audi A3s.
A spaceback is a fancy way of describing a hatchback with estate styling but not quite the configuration to be a true estate.
An example of spaceback is the Skoda Rapid.
A crossover is a new age term for a vehicle that is between a hatchback and an SUV in terms of size. A crossover more often than not is, in fact, a hatchback.
An estate can be based on an a hatchback or saloon but the key difference being the full size cargo area. Some SUVs can be described as estate due to their ‘full size’ configuration but commonly an estate is a passenger vehicle.
A sports wagon is a fancy way to make an estate seem less boring. Often used by continental countries.
A station wagon is another name for an estate that is more prominent in North America.
A tourer, when used to describe a body style, should not be confused with a touring car. A tourer is essentially an estate with the manufacturer using the word tourer instead to affirm that it’s a vehicle to be used over long distances much like a grand tourer without the ‘grand’. BMW is the most common use of the word touring, sports tourer or just tourer.
An example of a touring car is the BMW 3 Series Tourer.
Avant, like the tourer, is a posh name to give to an estate. Avant means ‘forward thinking’ and it’s a way for manufacturer’s way to say that the Avant is better than the regular version of the model. Audi is the main users of the term Avant.
A shooting brake is an estate which has sporty, coupe-like styling which can have 4 doors and often a sloping roof. Essentially, a shooting break is a cross between a coupe an estate.
A convertible is a car with a retractable roof. The method of retraction can differ as can the size of the roof.
A cabriolet is an old fashion name which these days describes a convertible. The origin of the word describes a horse-drawn carriage which a retractable roof.
A hard top is a type of convertible where the roof isn’t retractable but removable. As the name suggests, the roof is made of a hard material often plastic.
An example of a hard-top Targa is the Porsche 911 targa.
A soft top is the opposite of a hard top where the roof is made of a softer material.
A saloon, sometimes called a sedan in non European countries, is a three box vehicle where the engine, passenger box and boot are separate. The difference between a saloon and a hatchback is the boot is separated with it’s own door.
A coupe is a tricky vehicle to describe but the general consensus is a three or a two door vehicle, with a solid roof that isn’t a saloon or an SUV. Some manufacturers also call some of their 4 door vehicles coupes if it has a sloped, solid roof.
A gran coupe is a 4 door car with coupe styling. They can often have 4+1 seating inside. Strictly speaking, a gran coupe is either a hatchback or a saloon.
An example of a Gran Coupe is the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe.
A roadster is a 2 seater sports car.
An example of a roadster is the new BMW Z4.
A spider is a different name for a roadster.
An example of a spider is the Fiat 124 Spider.
A Gran Turismo or “GT” is a vehicle designed for luxurious long distance travelling. A GT should be spacious, possible in a saloon or an estate configuration with the emphasis being on the comfortable drive.
We have written a specific page on what it takes to be called a GT.
An example of a GT is the Bentley Continental GT.
An MPV is short for a multi-purpose vehicle and it is another name for a people carrier or if you’re American – a minivan. To be an MPV the vehicle should have a high roof with a flexible interior designed chiefly for multiple passengers as opposed to comfort. An MPV will have at least 5 full size seats up to 7. An MPV is a cross between a hatchback and a crew van.
A fastback is a specific style where the rear of the car has a single slope from the roof to the rear bumper. It is very similar to the coupe but not quite.
An example of a Fastback is the Ford Mustang.
A sports utility vehicle is a term to describe an estate like a car with genuine off-road capabilities such as high ground clearance and 4x4. The difference between the SUV and a crossover is that an SUV is not a hatchback.
A city car is a small vehicle designed to be used in urban areas. A city car is technically a hatchback with the key difference between the small, compact bodyshell and platform and low powered, economical engines.