Cars in India are classified by the Society of Indian Automotive Manufacturers(SIAM). Generally, classification is based on various factors like car dimensions, purpose, engine specifications among numerous other factors. For instance, comprehensive classification is not possible as a vehicle can sometimes fit into more than one category or cannot completely satisfy the requirements of the specified category. In India, there are three classification of cars most commonly used, namely,

  • Classification on the basis of Car body types
  • Classification on the basis of Segments

Based on Car body types

Car body types are highly variable and one can never guarantee that the same body style will remain in production. Some body styles become successful, others just find it difficult to cope up with the demand of the customers and become less common or even obsolete. In India, car body types are classified as follows:

  • Hatchback
  • Sedan/Saloon
  • Notchback
  • Station Wagon/Estate
  • Coupe
  • Convertible/Roadster
  • Crossover Utility Vehicle(CUV)/Crossover
  • Sports Utility Vehicle(SUV)
  • Multi Utility Vehicle(MUV)


A Hatchback is a body type which has a two box configuration – a compartment for engine and a common compartment for both passenger and cargo volume. The cargo volume can be accessed by a rear door which maybe a third or a fifth door mostly a top hinged one. To enable flexibility between cargo and passenger volumes, these cars are provided with features like the foldable rear seats. Some popular Indian hatchbacks are Maruti Suzuki Swift, Honda Jazz, Ford Figo, Hyundai i10,i20,etc.


A Sedan/Saloon is a body type which has a three box configuration with separate compartments for engine, passenger and cargo volumes. The cargo volume can be accessed by a separate rear trunk or boot. It has comfortable passenger space in the rear row as compared to a hatchback but lack foldable rear seats in certain models. Some popular Indian sedans are Mitsubishi Lancer, Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, BMW 3 Series,etc.


A Notchback is also a sedan which has a three box configuration with separate compartments for engine, passenger and cargo volumes but, the only difference being the rear trunk or boot may be shorter and perhaps an upright rear window. They are actually just a sedan version of their respective hatchbacks. Some popular Indian notchbacks are Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire(Swift-Hatchback), Ford Fiesta(Fiesta-Hatchback), Tata Indigo(Indica-Hatchback), etc.

Station Wagon/Estate

A Station Wagon is a variant of a sedan/saloon body type which has a two box configuration with a shared compartment for passenger and cargo volumes. It has three rows of seats with the last row being accessed by a rear door hinged mostly at the top. The last row is probably used as the cargo volume instead of a trunk or a boot in the case of a sedan. It has one or more rows of seats which can be folded in order to have flexibility between passenger and cargo volumes. Some popular Indian Station Wagons are Tata Indigo Marina, Volvo V50, V70, Volkswagen Passat Wagon,etc.


A Coupe is a sports variant of sedan body type with normally two or four doors. It normally has two seats in the front row and another row of two seats for occassional passengers or children in the rear. The rear row is placed further forward in a coupe as compared to a sedan. Some popular Indian Coupes are BMW M3, Audi RS5, Ferrari FF, Aston Martin Vantage,etc.


A Convertible/Roadster, also known as the all-weather car previously, is a vehicle which can retract its roofs either into a provision behind the rear seats or into the boot or trunk of the vehicle. The windows wind down inside the doors in this case converting it into an open-air vehicle. The roofs may be constructed of soft or rigidd materials and may be operated manually or automatically(via hydraulic or electrical actuators). Some well known Indian roadsters are BMW Z4, BMW 6 Series, Ferrari California, Mercedes Benz SLK Class, etc.

Crossover Utility Vehicle(CUV)/Crossover

A CUV also known as a Crossover SUV is a vehicle built on the combination of the features of a SUV and a passenger vehicle(mostly station wagon or a hatchback). It has a two box configuration moreover like a station wagon or a hatchback. A CUV has certain features like high ground clearance, all-wheel-drive capability, independent rear suspension, fuel economy, etc. Some popular CUVs on Indian roads are BMW X1,X3, Audi Q5,Q7, Mercedes Benz M Class, Honda CR-V, Mitsubishi Outlander, Mahindra XUV500,etc.

Sports Utility Vehicle(SUV)

A Sports Utility Vehicle is similar to a station wagon, but built on a different chassis. SUVs are mid-size passenger vehicles with a chassis similar to light trucks, usually equipped with a four wheel drive. Some SUVs have off-road capabilities and off late SUVs are being replaced by CUVs due to better fuel efficiency and light weight of the latter. Some SUVs on Indian roads are Ford EcoSport, BMW X4, Toyota Fortuner, Tata Safari, Audi Q6,etc.

Multi Utility Vehicle(MUV)

A Multi Utility Vehicle is a large bodied vehicle with atleast six adult passengers capacity. This class of vehicles was primarily targetted for rural areas where the need to carry a lot of passengers and their luggage is pretty high. They are usually equipped with frugal diesel engines and are popular with tourist operators and rental taxis. Some MUVs for Indian roads are Tata Sumo, Mahindra Bolero, Toyota Innova, Chevrolet Tavera, Tata Venture, Magic, etc.

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