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Whether you’re in the market for a new or used car, you’ll be faced with a bewildering array of body styles to choose from. Where on Earth do you begin? To help you decide which might be right for you, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to each of the main body styles. From spacious estates to sporty convertibles, it’s all covered below.


Britain’s most popular body style. This ‘two-box’ shape is practical, space-efficient and easy to live with, making it the default choice for many families and individuals alike – especially those living in crowded cities.

Hatchbacks usually have pretty spacious cargo areas which are easy to access, as the entire boot lid (including the rear window) lifts up in one piece, unlike on a saloon or coupé. They’re usually pretty affordable, so it’s no wonder they sell in such great numbers.

There are several subcategories of hatchback, including:

  • City cars like the Volkswagen Up and Kia Picanto
  • Superminis like the Ford Fiesta and Audi A1
  • Family hatchbacks like the Ford Focus and Honda Civic


Perhaps the most fashionable body style right now, SUVs have taken the new car market by storm over the past decade and a half. That’s not to say they’re a new idea, though; cars like the Range Rover have been around since the 1970s, although the SUV name wasn’t coined until much later.

It stands for ‘Sports Utility Vehicle,’ which probably doesn’t mean much to the average car buyer! What does, though, is that SUVs offer a high driving position, are safe, sturdy and generally quite comfortable, making them highly desirable. They also have a hatchback boot lid arrangement for optimum practicality.

Within the SUV segment, there are four main categories to consider:

  • Full-size SUVs (often called 4x4s) like the Range Rover and Audi Q7
  • Coupé SUVS like the BMW X6 and Lamborghini Urus
  • Small SUVs like the BMW X1 and X3
  • Crossovers like the Vauxhall Mokka and Nissan Juke


The first ‘three-box’ shape on this list, the saloon is also one of the longest-established body styles. Commonly associated with luxury cars, world leaders and celebrities usually step out of the back of a saloon when they make a public appearance – but that doesn’t mean they’re all super expensive.

Small saloons still exist, although they’re less popular than they once were thanks to the prevalence of the hatchback. They’re not as practical as hatchbacks, either, as the boot lid hinges at the base of the rear window, which is fixed in place.

The saloon body style encompasses the following categories of car:

  • Small saloons like the Audi A3 saloon and Mercedes-Benz A-Class saloon
  • Compact executive cars like the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4
  • Mid-sized executive cars like the BMW 5 Series and Audi A6
  • Luxury cars like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and Rolls-Royce Ghost


Supremely practical and spacious, estate cars are perfect for those wanting to carry large loads – or the family dog! With the rear seats folded flat and the full-height tailgate open, an estate can swallow a sofa or small table with ease. You can get them in various sizes, and many of the saloon cars listed above are also available as estates.


If style is your priority, coupés should be at the very top of your shopping list. With striking styling and uncluttered two or three-door bodies, coupés are aesthetically pleasing – and their lighter weight makes them the ideal basis for sports cars.

Coupés range from affordable models like the Audi TT to high-end supercars like the Ferrari Roma – and some even have their engines in the middle or towards the rear of the car. The ultimate choice for driving pleasure, coupés are favoured by car enthusiasts and fashion-forward motorists alike.


Love being at one with nature and feeling the wind in your hair? A convertible is the natural choice. Also known as cabriolets, roadsters and targas, convertible cars allow you to drop the roof and make the most of the sunshine. They’re typically based on coupés and only have two doors, making them less practical, but four-seater options are available from the likes of Audi and Mercedes-Benz.


Otherwise known as people carriers or people movers, MPVs (multi-purpose vehicles) have fallen out of favour somewhat with new car buyers in recent years, many opting for SUVs instead.

This doesn’t make them any less attractive to the right people, though. If you’re less bothered about what’s fashionable and more concerned about transporting your children and their friends in comfort, a seven-seat MPV will be perfect for you.

Featuring spacious cabins and plenty of room for luggage, MPVs like the Renault Espace and Ford Galaxy are ideal for family holidays and excursions.


Though they’re less common here in the UK than in North America, pick-ups are still adored by many – especially tradespeople who rely on their spacious, durable beds to transport their equipment and supplies around.

Popular options in Britain include the Ford Ranger and Mitsubishi L200.

Spoilt for choice

Whichever body style you go for, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from on both the new and used car markets. JJ Premium Cars has a wide selection of used cars in Peterborough. Happy car shopping!