Car terminology made easy
| 20th September 2010
Don’t know the difference between a supermini and a hatchback? Then you’ve come to the right place.Once again, us good folk here at Askaprice have come up with a wonderful little piece, designed to assist your car buying needs.We’ve assembled a list of terms that could flummox the casual car buyer and defined them for you.Jargon Busting- Car terminology made easyCity car: A small moderately powered vehicle intended for city or urban driving.Examples: Smart fortwo, Citroen C1, Ford Ka.Supermini: European classification that describes cars smaller than a hatchback but larger than budget city cars.Examples: Renault Clio, Ford Fiesta, Fiat 500.Hatchback: Probably the most popular choice of car on the European market. Available as either three or five door variants, they all have a door to the boot and not a lid as is the case in a saloon. Essentially it means that the rear of the car is sloped and the door opens vertically. Examples: VW Golf, Ford Focus, Volvo C30.Hot-Hatch: A relatively straight forward term, once you know what a hatchback is: a tuned up version of a hatchback with more power and torque and normally their suspension has been lowered and stiffened. Generally they’re more expensive, to buy and insure.Examples: Abarth 500.Coupe-Cabriolet: Car that doubles as a hard-top coupe or open-top cabriolet. They’re very popular in the UK, normally for middle aged women.Examples: Vauxhall Astra TwinTop, Peugeot 307 CC, Renault Megane Coupe-Cabriolet.Coupe: A term used to define a two seater or two plus two seater performance car. Coupes generally have more power and handle better than cars in other segments.Examples: BMW Z4, Mazda MX5, Audi TT.Convertible: One of the easier to define: A car whose roof comes down.Examples: BMW 6 Series Convertible, Dodge Viper SRT-10 Convertible, Jaguar XK Convertible. Cabriolet: A convertible. Examples: Mercedes Benz CLK 350 Cabriolet, Audi A5 Cabriolet, Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet.Saloon: The saloon is basically a vehicle with a separate boot. Many hatchbacks include a saloon variant.Examples: Ford Mondeo, Volkswagen Passat, Mazda6. Estate: Also known as a Sports Wagon. Basically the term can be defined as a longer version of the saloon. Chances are if you’ve been in a Volvo, you’ve been in an estate. Often seen driving to France.Examples: Audi RS6 Quattro Estate, Volvo V70 Estate, BMW M5 Touring.Executive: This is a term that includes premium marques on the market. This basically means Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, Jaguar, Aston Martin and Saab. They’re increasingly popular in China.Examples: BMW 5 Series, Audi A6, Mercedes Benz S Class.Luxury car: Difficult to define because like a supercar, it is subjective, but generally speaking it’s a car that provides a great abundance of comfort and ease, with a couple of obviously, luxury characteristics thrown in. This can be in the form of luxury materials, technologies or add-ons, like the Rolls Royce Phantom with its picnic set. A Luxury car can come in almost all car forms e.g. luxury saloon or a luxury estate.Examples: Rolls Royce Phantom, Bentley Arnage, Bentley Continental.Crossover: The crossover has complicated the definition of cars and car types. These are the vehicles that blur the boundaries of traditional segments such as hatchback, supermini, SUV and MPV.Examples: Qashqai = hatchback/SUV, Ford Fusion = supermini/MPV.SUV: An acronym for the Sports Utility Vehicle. These consist of vehicles based on traditional off-roaders like your Land Rovers and Jeeps. Recently, SUVs have become increasingly popular as a status car, commonly the vehicle of choice for footballers and Wags alike. They are also often the focal point of ecological arguments surrounding cars, because of their penchant for CO2 emissions and gas guzzling.Examples: BMW X3, Porsche Cayenne, Range Rover.MPV: An acronym for the multi-purpose vehicle. The MPV is designed for large families and the modern focus of an MPV is on increasing style and driveability. MPVs are normally available with five or seven seat configurations with a priority on space that normally comes in the form of split folding rear seats. The MPV was a major influence on the crossover.Examples: Ford Galaxy, Renault Scenic, Chrysler Grand Voyager.Supercar: Basically a very expensive, very powerful sports car that is far better than anything else on the road and probably too much for your budget. Sorry.Examples: Pagani Zonda, Bugatti Veyron, Mercedes Mc Laren SLR.Concept: Concepts are built by manufacturers to trial new designs and technology, prior to deciding whether to take the car into production. Unfortunately concept cars are normally stripped down extensively before they’re able to go into main line production. This can be for a whole host of reasons but its normally for safety, practicality and cost reasons. Designers can sometimes get a bit carried away at this stage of production. Examples: Citroen Survolt, Nissan Townpod, Renault Dezir.As if all that wasn’t enough to get your head around, the automotive industry then decided to split all these categories, under umbrella segments.We’ve saved you the bother of finding it out for yourself:SegmentsThe naming convention is informal and subject to interpretation as vehicle classes become less stratified by the introduction of crossover vehicles that do not readily fit a body style. But in general terms, they can be defined by the following:A Segment: describes a small city car, smaller than a supermini e.g. Ford Ka, Toyota Aygo, Citroen C1.B Segment: generally refers to superminis e.g. Toyota Yaris, Renault Clio, Peugeot 207.C Segment: Typically hatchbacks of medium size e.g. Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra, Volkswagen Golf.D Segment: Large family car, generally a large saloon e.g. Ford Mondeo, Volkswagen Passat, Honda Accord.