At a glance:

  • There are lots of different styles of car on the market right now, but we’ve narrowed it down to the most common ones. 
  • The car body types in our list include superminis, estates, and SUVs– and within each category of car, you’ll find subcategories. 
  • With lots of car manufacturers coming out with new makes and models of cars, sometimes car styles are merged. 
  • There’s no such thing as the ‘best’ type of car – it’s all about finding the right one for your needs, budget, and lifestyle. We’ll help you do that.


The different types of cars

With so many types of car on the market, it’s easy to feel a bit overwhelmed when looking for your next car. Each car type has something different to offer. For instance, if you have a large family that loves road-tripping, an SUV or an MPV might be just what you’re looking for. However, if it’s just you in the city then a smart car might be more your thing. It’s all about finding a car that suits you and your needs. This guide to car body types is here to help you do just that. 

City Cars 

Built for urban roads, city cars are small, light, and affordable. They tend to be very agile – thanks to their lightness – and are perfect for sneaking into those tight parking spaces, doing the school run, or running errands. These compact yet practical cars tend to have smaller engines and burn less fuel too. This makes them both reasonably priced and relatively cheap to drive. 

So, what’s not to love? Well, city cars typically don’t have much luggage space and are not very comfortable for carrying around more than two people regularly. But if you’re looking for a fun and economical ride for your city life, then look no further than one of the smallest cars on the market. 

What is a city car? 

City cars normally come in the form of a hatchback or superminis, and that’s how you’ll find them categorised here at Motors. 

Popular city cars 

With so many city cars out there, we took the liberty of rounding up the most popular ones so that you don’t have to: 

The Fiat 500 might have a healthy dose of style on its hands, but it’s also a great choice thanks to its easy driving experience. Its light steering means you can nip in and out of traffic easily, while a compact size makes it easy to park. 

The Volkswagen Up! is a whole lot more practical than you might expect from a car of this type. A well-sized boot and foldable rear seats make this an excellent option for those who want a small car that still has loads of practicality. 

Hyundai has an excellent reputation for reliability, which is why the compact i10 will appeal to many drivers. Not only will it reduce running costs, but it’s also well made and packed with features. 

Peugeot has a great history of making simple and easy-to-run city cars and the 108 is no different. It’ll be cheap to insure and fill up with fuel, and it’s also got enough performance to be used on longer drives. 

Ford’s is often seen as the go-to choice for drivers just passing their tests, but it’s also an excellent option for those living in the city. It’s compact and will fit into the smallest of spaces, but it’s also well built and feels sturdy around you. 

If you want to know more about these compact cars, then check out our city cars guide; all you need to know. If you’re a regular urban commuter, our best city cars for commuters guide has some more top suggestions too. 


Despite the name, superminis are a form of hatchback that sit somewhere between a city car and the traditional hatchback. They offer a middle ground between the two and have proven to be a very popular car type in the UK, with the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa and Volkswagen Polo never going out of fashion. In fact, the Vauxhall Corsa was listed as the most popular car in the UK in 2021, and the Ford Fiesta regularly comes top of the list too.

What are superminis?

This type of car is compact, light, and agile. Yet – unlike the city runner – they can comfortably seat four people and have a boot big enough for a couple of small suitcases, or your weekly food shop. In all honesty, they’re ideal if you’re looking for a versatile ride that’s just the right size for your small family. 

Don’t let the supermini’s size or economical price tag make you think you’ll have to settle for the bare basics though. This car type is among the UK’s best-selling cars and for good reason. The manufacturers that make them are sure to do so with all the parts and equipment you need. From touchscreens to adaptive cruise control – you don’t have to go without. If you’re a fan of the finer things – the Audi A1 or Mini Hatchback could be just what you’re looking for. 

Popular superminis 

With so many superminis out there – it can be tricky to know where to start if you’re looking to buy one. That’s why we’ve made this handy list of the best superminis on the market: 

Ford’s Fiesta is one of the most popular superminis of all time, with its compact yet practical proportions and efficient range of engines – it’s a smash hit. Here at Motors, we’ve got thousands of used examples available. 

Something of a household name, Vauxhall’s Corsa has always stood for frugal motoring, something that has been retained with the latest version – it’s even available as an electric car. 

If you’re after rock-solid build quality then look no further than the Volkswagen Polo. It’s been very well built throughout its many generations, but it’s also very comfortable and quiet on the motorway, too.

The Renault Clio is one of the French firm’s most popular models, owing to its excellent levels of standard equipment, and its efficient range of engines – whichever age you opt for. 

Mini’s three-door Hatchback is an excellent option thanks to its retro-infused styling, great interior quality and plethora of engine choices. 

More of an upmarket choice, the A1 takes the supermini experience up a notch with the very latest technology and a series of smooth engines. 

Want to explore even more options? Our article on the most popular superminis has got you covered. 


Regular hatchbacks (also known as the family hatchback) are the largest car type before moving up to a saloon. These medium-sized, cosy yet practical vehicles make for the perfect family car thanks to their reasonable space, low motoring costs and of course, comfort. They’re also fun to drive and aren’t too tricky to get into those tight spots either. Plus, you’ll find there are plenty of models and styles available in this car type. So much so you’ll be spoilt for choice!

What is a hatchback?

Hatchbacks are a type of car whereby when you lift the boot lid, you open up the entire back of the car- from the bumper to the roof, including the rear screen. The fact that the boot counts as an extra door is the reason hatchbacks can be called three-door or five-door vehicles, as opposed to four-door saloons.

If you need to transport bulky luggage, like prams or big suitcases, or access the interior of the car from the boot, then a hatchback is a wise choice. You might want to note that Audi and some other carmakers call their hatchback models ‘sport backs’. They are one and the same and the terms are interchangeable. 

Popular hatchbacks 

As we mentioned earlier, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to traditional hatchbacks. So here are some of our top picks:

The Ford Focus has everything a family could need from a hatchback as it’s spacious, solidly made, and comes with a line-up of efficient engines that can help lower bills. 

The Volkswagen Golf is now into its eighth generation, which goes to show just how popular it has been throughout the years. Across those models, it has offered great levels of interior space and on-board technology

The current Mercedes A-Class brings some of the technology you might expect to find in this firm’s more expensive models in this more finance-friendly hatchback. 

Vauxhall’s Astra really focuses on value-for-money, with low running costs and plenty of standard equipment.

The Audi A3 might be more expensive than rivals, but it brings a really smart interior with plenty of technology as a result.

If you’re on the lookout for even more hatchback recommendations, you can check out our favourite best-selling hatchbacks of all time. 

People Carriers / MPVs

This next car type makes for the ultimate family car. Multi-purpose Vehicles (MPVs) and people carriers are one and the same. Both terms are correct and they can be used interchangeably. 

What is an MPV?

MPVs are large cars that have up to an impressive nine seats. How? They have large bodies and make use of their boot space. Lots of MPVs come with sliding doors and some have up to five ISOFIX points too, making them perfect for big families and all those extras that tend to come with the territory. 

Whilst they’re certainly not the most stylish cars on the road – they make up for it in practicality. Plus, these family-sized minivans are more affordable to purchase and run than their stylish sister – the SUV.

Popular MPVs:

At Motors, we have an abundance of used MPVs for you to choose from. But if you need a little help narrowing it down – why not start with the most popular people carriers?

The Ford Galaxy is a practical and well-made MPV which, thanks to plenty of efficient engine options, is not as expensive to run as you may think.

The Touran packs a lot of space into a compact package, with its seven seats making it a good option for larger families

The Toyota Verso is a practical and well-made MPV option, while its tall design means it has bags of headroom – ideal for teenagers who are starting to get taller!

Citroen’s C4 SpaceTourer is a firm family favourite thanks to its practical interior which features plenty of cubbies and storage to keep things tidy.

The Vauxhall Zafira has practicality at its core, while efficient engines can help to keep fuel bills down.

Plus, if you want to know more about the ultimate family car, our helpful MPV guide has all the answers you need. 


This car type is adored by driving enthusiasts looking for a fun and spacious car to take on those long-distance drives. Saloons are often real head-turners. They come in a multitude of shapes and sizes, and though similar to a hatchback, they offer style by the bucket load. They’re also more streamlined and aerodynamic, that’s for sure. 

Saloons are mainly the domain of premium brands like Audi and Mercedes, although almost every car manufacturer has a couple in their catalogue. These cars are smart and classy and come with the latest technology and add-ons. It’s no wonder they’re a firm favourite with business executives.

What is a saloon? 

In technical terms, a saloon is a car where the boot is separate from the rest of the interior. The boots of saloons tend to have a smaller opening and less luggage space than hatchbacks. However, some will have a slot in the back of the seat that you can fit skis or flat-pack furniture in – even if they do poke out partly into the vehicle’s interior. 

You might also be interested to know that this car type is classed as a four-door car because the boot doesn’t count as a door when it’s separate from the interior. 

Popular Saloons 

We’ve got a range of stylish saloons for you to choose from, but below you’ll find the most popular picks:  

The Mercedes C-Class is a great option for long-distance drivers thanks to its excellent refinement and comfortable interior.

The A4 is one of Audi’s most popular models, thanks to its combination of a high-quality interior and solid build quality. Quattro all-wheel-drive on certain models helps in poor weather, too. 

With great driving dynamics and a well-made interior, the BMW 3 Series is another firm favourite in the saloon segment.

The Volkswagen Passat brings loads of space to the table, as well as plenty of in-car technology.

With a comfort-focused interior and plenty of equipment, the Jaguar XE acts as a great alternative to the traditional German vehicles. 

If you’re craving even more sleek saloon suggestions,we don’t blame you. That’s why we put together a list of the best saloons to drive in the UK


Coupes are essentially two-door versions of saloon cars with a hard swooping roof at the back – though you can find some four-door coupes out there big enough for families. Thanks to their sleek and sporty look, they’re even more stylish than the saloon. We know – hard to believe! But it’s true. To top it off, their powerful engines and lower suspension make this type of car an absolute joy to drive. 

 What is a coupe?

Coupes are the ‘it’ of car styles and they have the price tag to prove it. You won’t find much room for luggage in a coupe though, as they favour style over practicality. But if style and sophistication are what you’re after, then you’ve definitely found your answer in a coupe. 

That being said, you will find there are some larger models on the market. For instance, the Grand Tourer is a bigger and even more luxurious coupe. Their back seats offer a bit more comfort for the passenger but still aren’t quite as roomy as a full saloon. A great example of a Grand Tourer is the Bentley Continental GT.

Popular coupes 

You can browse our full range of used coupes for sale here. However, if you’re not sure where to start, here are our top recommendations: 

The E-Class Coupe blends striking looks with a comfortable interior. It’s an excellent choice for long-distance drivers thanks to its quiet driving experience.

Audi’s A5 is a surprisingly spacious coupe, with a large boot and an interior which features a number of storage options

The Jaguar F-Type incorporates styling nods to classic models, but tied together in one great-to-drive and good-looking package.

Essentially a coupe version of the 3 Series, the 4 Series provides excellent comfort levels – it’s efficient too

Ford’s famous Mustang only recently came to the UK, but it has made a big impact thanks to its standout looks and powerful V8 engine.

Looking for a touch of class? Check out the classiest coupes on the market right now. 


Also known as cabriolets, convertibles are basically coupes with their roof removed and replaced with a retractable fabric or metal cover. They stand almost polar opposite to the likes of the MPV or the SUV. Though they can hold up to four passengers, you might be a bit pushed for space in the back, so they’re a better choice for stylish couples than for families. In terms of luggage, we’re talking handbags or carry-on cases as opposed to larger suitcases. 

Their appeal? They allow you to drive around with the wind in your hair and the sun on your face, giving you a sense of freedom like nothing else. That is of course when the sun is shining. If you’re looking for style, class and a little luxury, then a convertible brings it by the bucket load.

What is a convertible? 

These coupe-type transformers are arguably the trendiest of all car types. They certainly know how to pack a punch too. There’s a reason why it’s always a convertible speeding down those country lanes – because they’re capable of fast speeds and high acceleration. 

Popular convertibles 

On the market for a used convertible? We certainly don’t blame you! Here are our top suggestions: 

The Mazda MX-5 is often seen as the ideal everyday convertible – it’s easy to drive on a day-to-day basis, and it’s not overly expensive to run either.

The Mercedes SL sits within a long line of convertible Mercedes cars, bringing a clever folding metal roof that helps keep the worst of the elements outside. 

Audi’s TT Roadster is compact and easy to park, but it’s still got loads of the upmarket features that keep people coming back to the brand.

The Z4 packs a lot into a small package, with great driving dynamics and powerful engines making this a very fun convertible to live with.

Since it’s based on the regular Hatch, the Mini Convertible gets the same quirky styling and high-quality interior but with that all-important folding roof.

And if five just isn’t quite cutting it then you should have a look at our top 10 convertible recommendations. 


Simply put, this car type is basically a family hatchback with a rear extension. With their large boots, estates are perfect for families that need to cram a lot of child-friendly equipment into the car. Think prams, changing bags, and suitcases. Estates are also ideal for those who collect a lot of flat-pack furniture and don’t know the meaning of ‘packing light’ when going on holiday.

What is an estate?

In the past, estate cars tended to be quite boxy, though the newer models are a lot more stylish and elegant. They’re not the cheapest to run, nor the nimblest to drive, and they can be tricky to park in tight spots. But if you need that boot space without upgrading to an SUV, then the estate could be just what you’re looking for. 

It might be worth noting that some manufacturers call estate cars ‘fastback’, ‘shooting brake’, ‘touring’, ‘tourer’ or ‘avant’.

Popular estate cars 

At Motors, we have plenty of used estate cars for you to browse through, but if you’re looking for a little guidance, here are our top recommendations: 

The Volvo V60 brings loads of safety equipment, as well as a clean and modern interior design that is centred around excellent build quality.

Audi’s A6 Avant is a great option for families thanks to its large boot and comfortable ride that makes longer trips easier.

The Peugeot 308 SW lies on the more compact end of the spectrum, but that means it’s easy to live with and simple to park.

Practicality is the name of the game with the 3 Series Touring, with its clever pop-out boot hatch making it into a great car for dog owners.

The C-Class Estate incorporates the same comfortable ride and premium finish as the saloon and coupe, but with the added practicality that most families are after.

Undecided between an SUV and an estate? Our handy guide will help you off the fence!


Sports-utility vehicles, more commonly known as SUVs fall into the large car category. They’re powerful vehicles with great cargo and towing capacities, and they have a lot more ground clearance than other car types too. They rival the MPV in terms of practicality and space, though they certainly take the win when it comes to style. You can spot the SUV’s trademark rugged look from a mile away. 

SUVs are well suited to all ever-growing family needs – boasting plenty of space for car seats and prams as well as sports equipment and suitcases. Just like the MPV, this car type has room in the boot to either pack in those extra passengers or use as storage. 

What is an SUV? 

There’s a very fine line between crossovers and traditional SUVs. However, SUVs tend to sit on a larger based truck-like platform. SUVs sit high off the ground and a lot of them will have four-wheel drive too. 

Popular SUVs 

When it comes to used SUVs we certainly have no shortage of contenders for you. Though if you’re looking for a little guidance before you go it alone, check out our top SUV suggestions: 

Introduced as the SUV version of the E-Class, the GLE is very comfortable, while its large boot means it’s practical too.

Nissan’s family-friendly X-Trail provides a large boot and seven-seat versatility, making it a good choice for larger families.

The Kia Sorento’s excellent reliability record means it’s a good option for buyers who are after a no-nonsense SUV.

The Mazda CX-5 gets plenty of standard equipment, while its great materials means it feels very pleasant inside.

Those living further off the beaten track – or in areas prone to bad winter weather – will see the Discovery as a great fit thanks to its excellent off-road ability.

If you’re looking for more SUV recommendations or insights then you’re in luck. We have an abundance of SUV guides and further recommendations, from the best family SUVs to SUV comparison guides, you’ll find everything you need in our SUV advice hub. 


Crossovers are a type of car usually classed as a subcategory of SUV vehicles. They combine the high ride and chunky rugged styling of the SUV with all the comfort of a traditional hatchback. A match made in heaven some might say. 

What is a crossover?

Though these may look like off-roaders, looks can be deceiving! Crossovers were not meant for off-roading and lack the heavy gear of 4x4s. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though, because it means they offer decent fuel efficiency whilst still performing very well on the road. Their high position also makes them perfect for parents strapping children in the back, or elderly drivers that need an easy car to get into. 

If you’re looking to learn more about this type of car, our handy guide covers all the basics and more. 

Popular crossovers 

With so many great crossovers out there – you’ll be spoilt for choice. If you’re looking for a bit of help getting started, here are some of the most popular crossovers. 

Nissan’s compact Juke brings quirky styling and a smart interior to the table, while a compact bodystyle means it’s easy to live with in the city

The Cactus showcases a quirky style, but it’s backed up by efficient engines and light, easy controls.

Vauxhall’s Mokka brings that upright seating position which gives a confidence-inspiring view of the road ahead, but it’s also well priced and value-focused.

The 2008 is Peugeot’s most compact crossover, but it’s big on functions and technology too.

Volkswagen’s T-Roc gets all the same great features as the regular Golf, but with that chunky styling and upright driving position that crossover buyers are after.

Want a crossover but feel concerned about the running costs? We understand. Why not take a look at our list of affordable but fabulous crossovers?


Next on our list of different car body types is the pick-up. Often mistaken for an SUV, the pick-up has an open cargo area (that’s the open boot-like section) at the back, whereas the back of an SUV is fully enclosed. However, just like the SUV, you can expect a higher, larger-than-life frame, strong towing capabilities and more ground clearance.

What is a pick-up?

They are a type of large car, though they’re sometimes referred to as ‘pick-up trucks’ in reference to their size. They typically come as four-wheel drives and can take on challenging road surfaces and off-road terrain. This, combined with their large loading area makes them the adventurer seeker’s dream. They’re perfect if you’re looking for a rugged, chunky vehicle to transport tools, gardening gear, sports equipment or work materials. You can also find single or double-cab models depending on how many people you’ll regularly be carrying. 

Popular pick-ups 

With so many great pick-ups out there it can be hard to narrow it down to just a few. But you’re in luck because we’ve done it for you! 

Ford’s Ranger gets the robust build quality that you tend to want if you’re after a pick-up, but it’s also got loads of equipment and technology.

The Amarok is the most car-like of the pick-up trucks, making it a go-to choice if you don’t want to compromise on comfort.

The Navara is a robust and well-made pick-up which can deal with even the very worst terrain.

There are few pick-up trucks that can better the Hilux’s reputation for reliability, with this truck’s many generations meaning there are an abundance of used examples available.

A recent addition to the pick-up class, the Nissan Navara-based X-Class brought a more upmarket interior and plenty of technology.

If you’re a sports lover, you might want to take a look at the best pick-ups for sports enthusiasts too. 

4×4 and off-roaders

If you love going off-road and exploring the wildest of terrains, then a proper 4×4 was made for you. This type of car was built to be buried in mud and tackle the most adverse weather conditions. If this sounds like your idea of heaven, then the 4×4 definitely won’t let you down. 

What is a 4×4?

Four-wheel drives send power to all four tyres, as opposed to just the front or back two. That’s what sets four-wheel drives apart from other types of cars. They’re built similarly to SUVs in that they sit on large frames high off the ground. Again, you can spot the chunky trademark of a four-wheel drive in an instant. 

Their ability to take on the toughest of terrains means they sacrifice fuel economy, and at times, comfort too. But this type of car has been a firm favourite amongst farmers and adventure lovers alike for good reason. 

Popular four-wheel drives

Land Rover’s rugged Defender might not be the most comfortable on road, but it’s still one of the very best when things get sticky.

Famous in the US, the Jeep Wrangler might be a relatively recent addition to the UK’s four-wheel-drive market but it’s already one of the best

The Shogun combines Mitsubishi’s excellent reputation for reliability with easy-to-repair mechanicals and a robust interior 

The tiny Jimny might be small in stature, but its off-road ability is as good – if not better – than many of its larger competitors. 

Leaning more towards the on-road end of the market, the Sportage will be good for occasional off-road use.

Eager to get behind the wheel of a 4×4 but conscious of your budget? We understand, that’s why we put together this list of the cheapest 4x4s for young drivers. 

Sports cars 

This type of car is a dream come true for driving enthusiasts. They may not be the most practical cars nor the cheapest but people want them for the thrill of getting behind the wheel and exploring those country roads. Sports cars are real beauties, that’s for sure, and you’ll certainly turn a few heads if you’re out and about in one. 

 What are sports cars?

Sports cars tend to take on the form of coupes or convertibles, though some of the classics are even smaller. They’re low to the ground, tend to have just two seats, a tiny boot and are definitely not very fuel-efficient. So what’s the attraction, we hear you ask? Well, these are incredibly fun cars to drive, with rapid acceleration and outstanding handling at top speeds. They’ll have you feeling like you’re in a Bond film. Be warned though: they come with a hefty price tag. 

Popular sports cars

With so many stunning sports cars out there, we put together the top ones to help save you some time:

Lightweight and nimble, the GT86 is one of the best-handling sports cars around. It’s also relatively cheap to run and fuel. 

With muscle car looks and the performance to match, the AMG GT is available as both a coupe and a drop-top.

The Cayman is the smallest sports car in Porsche’s range, but thanks to its excellent handling and performance, it’s one of the best.

Aston Martin hit the nail on the head with the Vantage. It’s a great-looking sports car that backs up its appearance with an exciting driving experience. 

Though many people think of the Elise when they imagine Lotus, it’s the Evora which really pushed this Norfolk-based firm into the future.

Owning a sports car comes high on a lot of people’s dream car purchases, but with our list of cheapest sports cars, maybe you could make that dream a reality. Or perhaps you’re looking for the ride of your life? In that case, take a look at the best fast sports cars on the market right now. 

Let Motors help you find your perfect style

Here at Motors, we’re all about empowering you. Knowledge is power, after all. And our aim is to arm you with all the tools you need to make the right decision for you. Whether that’s through this guide or another one in our car body types series, we hope you’ve found what you’re looking for.. 

Plus, If you’re still not sure what car style is best for you, we have just the thing. Our smart search tool will ask you just eight simple questions before presenting you with the perfect car for you. You can’t say we don’t spoil you!

And we don’t stop there. If you’re looking to purchase a used car, make sure you check out our buying guides hub. It’s full to the brim with useful information covering everything from buyer and seller contracts, to first-time buyers’ tips. 


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