What Do The Body Type Names Mean?

What Do The Body Type Names Mean?
28 Nov 2018
By Ronnie Lawson-Jones

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.

Popular examples of modern hatchbacks are the Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus and Fiesta, BMW 1 Series and the Mercedes-Benz A-Class.


You can view our page on hatchback leasing here


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.

RELATED: What is a crossover? / Budget Crossovers You Can Lease / Crossover Leasing

Popular examples of crossovers are Nissan Qashqai, Ford Kuga, Volkswagen T-Roc and the Kia Sportage.



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.

Examples of estates are the C Class Estate, Focus Estate and the Octavia Estate.



A sports wagon is a fancy way to make an estate seem less boring. Often used by continental countries.

Examples of sportswagons are Volvo V60 and Peugeot 308.


Station Wagon

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.

3 Series Touring


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.

An example of an Avant is the Audi A4 Avant.

Audi A4 Avant

Shooting Brake

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.

Mercedes are one of the few people to still use the moniker with the CLA shooting brake being an example.

Shooting Brake


A convertible is a car with a retractable roof. The method of retraction can differ as can the size of the roof.

An example of a convertible is the Fiat 500 convertible, Mini Convertible and the 2 series convertible.



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.

An example of a cabriolet is the C Class Cabriolet and Audi A3 cabriolet.


Hard Top/Targa

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


Soft Top

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.

View our Saloon leasing page

An example of a saloon is the Jaguar XF, BMW 3 Series Saloon, Audi A4 Saloon, Mercedes C Class Saloon.



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.

Examples of coupes include Audi TT coupe, 4 Series Coupe, Mercedes CLA coupe.

Gran Coupe

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.


Gran Turismo

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.

Examples of MPVs are Volkswagen Touran, Citroen C4 Spacetourer, Ford C-Max.



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.

An example of an SUV is the Audi Q8, BMW X7, Land Rover Range Rover and the Mercedes GLS.

View our SUV leasing page


City Car

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.

View our City Car leasing page

Examples of City Cars are Volkswagen Up, Citroen C1, Toyota Aygo and Smart ForTwo.

City Car

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