The Indian automobile industry is a dynamic market with new cars and body types released every few months. From hatchbacks, sedans, coupes and SUVs, the list can be seemingly confusing for the uninitiated. This article details the different types of cars in India: car body types are explained to help the reader distinguish between them and make the right decision when it comes to buying a new car.
The reason that types of cars in India are categorised into segments is to make it easier for buyers and lawmakers. The car buyer will get the car he is looking for and the government can impose the right kind of tax bracket for each car type. For example, vehicles that are less than 4 metres in length have a tax incentive as compared to other cars. Electric cars also benefit from lower GST rates and initial cost deductions.
Some manufacturers design cars to be released in India with these rules and regulations in mind. When the Mahindra XUV300 came to India, it was shortened to conform to tax benefits, however, the eXUV300 (fully electric version) will be bigger than its gas-guzzling twin at 4.2 metres because there are different incentives for electric cars.
Read here 2022 Mahindra XUV400 Electric
Different Types of Cars in India
There are many options when it comes to body styles, shapes and sizes. The Indian auto market offers different types of cars to cater to the customer’s needs. You can buy an entry-level hatchback, premium sedan, sports coupe stylish SUV or a large people mover MUV depending on your requirements and price range.
To make the car buying decision process easier, we have compiled a list of body types that are available. Types of cars in India are varied and can seem overwhelming, but this guide will help you sort out the car of your choice to make an informed decision.
This type of car is a small four-door with a rear hatch that opens vertically upwards to facilitate luggage space. There are two-door hatchbacks available in the market as well, but the four-door version is more popular as it makes a good family car for the budget-oriented buyer.
The hatchback usually follows the front engine, front-wheel drive format with an automatic or manual gearbox. This body style is the most common type of car sold in India. It can seat five adults in comfort and has decent boot space to carry luggage. Some of the main selling points of hatchbacks are good fuel economy and compact dimensions. They are usually lightweight cars which makes them easy to drive around the city and in between traffic.
If you have a small family, and a tight budget with an intention of keeping running costs low, the hatchback is probably the best option. These cars are easy to park and due to the rear hatch, visibility is quite good when backing up into a small space.
Modern hatchbacks come with all the features of more expensive cars like touchscreen infotainment systems, rear view parking cameras, CVT gearboxes, leather upholstery, cruise control, airbags and ABS with EBD.
The only drawback of hatchbacks is that you cannot load them up too much because of the tiny dimensions and weight restrictions. Ride and handling will suffer because they have small wheels and light suspension settings.
Some of the best hatchbacks in India include the Maruti Suzuki Alto K10 which was recently launched on 18th August 2022. It comes with a frugal 1-litre, petrol engine mated to either a manual or automatic transmission. The average ex-showroom price for the Alto K10 is Rs.3.99 lakh making it excellent value for money. Advantages of the Alto K10 are a strong performing engine, light driving controls, decent space, good quality materials used in the cabin and a wide service network. It has enough space for a small family and comes with several convenience features.
Other popular hatchbacks in India are the Tata Altroz, Maruti Suzuki Swift, Hyundai Grand i10 Nios, Renault Kwid and Citroen C3. The hatchback is the most popular type of Indian car that you can buy. It is no wonder that you see so many of them driving on the roads.
You can find different types of cars in India. One sought-after design is the sedan, which is a four-door car with a full-sized boot. The sedan is a popular choice among Indian car buyers due to its spacious cabin, excellent luggage carrying capacity and premium status as a large car. The boot space in a sedan is more than what is available in a hatchback, making it more convenient for families.
There have been a few hatchbacks that have been converted into sedans for the Indian market. Cars like the Swift Dzire and Ford Aspire started life as a humble hatchback. Due to the demand for sedans, auto manufacturers decided to add a large boot and stretch the car to accommodate a more spacious cabin.
The list of stylish sedans in the Indian market is endless and every manufacturer has at least one sedan in their model’s line-up. The main feature of a sedan is that the passenger cabin and the boot space are separated in a 3-box design (engine, passenger cabin and luggage area). Although the name sedan is the most used term in India, they are also called saloons in other countries.
A variation of the sedan body is the notchback, which is a sedan with a rear hatch. Notchbacks also have slight variations and can be classified as fastbacks, compact sedans to provide a sportier feel.
To take advantage of tax benefits and GST, some Indian manufacturers have designed sedans to conform to sub-4-metre regulations. These sedans end up looking like their boot has been chopped in half, which may look a boot disproportionate and result in reduced space for luggage.
A sedan is spacious enough to seat 5 passengers in comfort and has a boot space that can carry a fair bit of cargo. The design of a sedan does not provide sufficient ground clearance, which can be a problem in Indian road conditions. When the car is fully loaded, the under-carriage section often scrapes against large speedbumps or broken tarmac. Since sedans are larger than hatchbacks, drivers may find it difficult to manoeuvre around in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Parking will also be a problem due to the larger dimensions. However, these are trade-offs for larger cabin space and a more comfortable drive.
Engines are generally more powerful than hatchbacks starting from 1 litre and can go upwards from there. There are a range of transmission options including manual, CVT, DCT and torque converters. Diesel engine variants are popular choices for sedans due to their superior fuel economy, higher torque figures and lower running costs. Sedans tend to be equipped with a host of features that include electric sunroofs, ventilated seats, premium and luxurious interiors, high-end infotainment systems, traction control, airbags and ABS braking systems.
Some popular compact sedans available in the Indian market include the best-selling Maruti Suzuki Dzire, Hyundai Aura, Tata Tigor and Honda Amaze. Full-size sedans such as the Hyundai Verna, Honda All New City, Volkswagen Virtus and Skoda Slavia are popular choices for those looking for premium interiors complete with all the bells and whistles.
Luxury sedans are expensive cars that are equipped with high-performance engines and modern tech interiors. Cars that fall in this segment include the Mercedes Benz C-Class, Toyota Camry, BMW 3 Series and Skoda Superb. Sedans are by far the most varied segment in the Indian auto industry with cars in all possible price ranges.
Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV)
As the name suggests, SUVs are sporty vehicles that come with lots of utility in terms of cabin space, and their ability to tackle varied terrain. Many SUVs are equipped with four-wheel drivetrains and large off-road tyres. SUVs are characterised by high ground clearance and tall proportions which make them well suited to Indian road conditions. Speed bumps, broken tarmac, potholes and muddy tracks are no challenge for the SUV.
SUVs are available in several shapes and sizes and can be segmented into compact and sub-compact SUVs, midsize SUVs, full-size SUVs and a new design known as crossover ( a cross between a large hatchback and compact SUV).
In the past few years, SUVs have been topping the sales charts. It seems everyone is buying an SUV and manufacturers that have traditionally built only sedans or hatchbacks are moving into the SUV market just to tap into the demand. For example, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Rolls Royce and Bentley all have SUVs in their line ups. Given these are niche manufacturers for the rich and famous, still, their inclination to the SUV body style is a testament to the popularity of this segment.
SUVs come with a range of engines from small capacity (around 1.3 litres) to large, powerful units such as a V8. Diesel engines are favoured for SUVs because of their high torque values which come in handy while climbing steep inclines and powering over rough roads.
The cabin and interiors are especially spacious with some SUVs featuring a third row of passenger seats. This row is often folded down to carry copious amounts of luggage when there are fewer passengers. Interiors feature premium materials, leather upholstery, and rear A/c vents with lots of leg room and headroom. These vehicles are the perfect transport for long road trips, impromptu highway runs and serious offroad adventures.
Features found on SUVs include Hill Hold and Climb Assist, Driver Assist, Traction Control, ABS with EBD, All wheel drive and low-range gears. Some popular SUVs sold in India are the bestselling Maruti Suzuki Brezza, Hyundai Venue, Tata Nexon, Kia Sonet, Mahindra XUV 300 and Renault Kiger, all placed in the compact SUV segment. Large, full-size SUVs include the MG Gloster, Audi Q3, Kia Seltos, Hyundai Creta, Mahindra XUV 700, Mahindra Scorpio and Toyota Fortuner.
Multi-Purpose Vehicle (MPV)
Better known as people movers, MPV's main selling point is passenger space with some cars featuring seating for 8 passengers. MPVs are available in the affordable range with small yet powerful engines and with 6 – 7 seating configurations. The Maruti Ertiga is such an entry-level MPV that sells in large numbers in the country.
Mid-size MPVs have more spacious cabins, premium interiors, and larger engines that are well suited for long drives and road trips. Many MPVs feature in-car entertainment for the rear passengers with infotainment screens. The Toyota Innova Crysta and Mahindra Marazzo are popular mid-size MPVs in India. They are often used as intercity taxis.
Large-size MPVs are known as luxury on wheels and come equipped with mini-fridges, TVs, and massage seats (more like armchairs). They are powered by robust, high-capacity engines that are mated to automatic gearboxes.
Examples of large MPVs sold in the country are the Kia Carnival and Toyota Vellfire. These cars are priced in the luxury segment and are featured with advanced safety and comfort features not found in lower-priced MPVs.
Also read Kia KY MPV India Launch in Early 2022
With so many different types of cars in India, varying body styles, sizes and segments, the car buyer has to be well versed in each category to consider the right vehicle.
Some important factors to keep in mind while deciding on the perfect body type include the price range you are looking at, seating capacity, comfort and convenience features, running costs and your daily driving needs.
In the price range below Rs.10 lakhs, you can find a range of body types that suit your budget. Of course, you need a spacious cabin for a small family or a compact car for just yourself, together with the latest technology, creature comforts and utility features.
A car that is driven daily should have low running costs and be reliable with a wide service network. A hatchback makes the perfect daily driver, while an SUV is better suited to highway driving.
This article will surely help you decide on the car you are looking for and we hope you found it informative and interesting. Other such articles you may want to have a look at include 4X4 cars in India or budget SUV cars and visit Carorbis Blog for more.