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Car segments in India explained: Know different car types

Team Ackodrive14, Dec, 2021

If you are in the market to purchase your new car, the number of types of vehicles available may overwhelm you. If you are unaware of the car body types, you may buy a car that does not suit your needs. Hence, adequate knowledge of car body types can be helpful while buying a car. To help you out in this regard, we will discuss car segments in India in this article. So, read on to know more about different car types.

Car segments in India explained: Know different car types

Different segments of cars in India

You may have come across some of the most common types of cars like hatchbacks, sedans, SUVs (Sport Utility Vehicle) and MPVs (Multi-Purpose Vehicle). But there are different sub-segments for each type of vehicle, which we will be elaborating on in the following sections. You can glance through the below table to know the different kinds of car segments in India.

Segment Car type
A Mini hatchbacks
B Small hatchbacks
C Small sedans/family cars
D Mid-size sedans/family cars
E Executive luxury cars
M Multi-Purpose Vehicles(MPVs)
J Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs)
Crossover Crossover hatchbacks

Below are the details of car segments in India.

1. A-segment (mini hatchbacks)

A-segment cars are ideal for urban roads due to their compact dimensions. They are also easy to drive due to simple vehicle controls. The below points divulge more details of A-Segment cars.

  • The hatchbacks in this segment measure less than 4 metres in length.

  • The mini hatchbacks come with a small engine that produces enough power suitable for daily commutes.

  • Generally, the mini hatchbacks are available only with fuel-efficient petrol/CNG engines.

  • The mini hatchbacks are easy-to-drive with options such as AMT transmission.

  • A-segment cars come with only essential features. It also helps to keep the costs down.

  • The segment is further classified into two: A1 (entry-level models) and A2 (compact hatchbacks).

A-segment cars in India

2. B-segment (small hatchbacks)

B-segment cars or small hatchbacks are best suited for you if your driving requirements are daily commuting and occasional long drives. They are slightly larger than A-segment vehicles and offer more stability on the road. For more details of the small car segment, refer to the points below.

  • B-segment cars measure just under 4 metres in length. They are also a bit taller and wider than A-segment cars.

  • The cars in this segment get mid-size engines ranging from 1-litre to 1.5 -litre, depending on the make and model.

  • You also find an array of gearbox options such as manual, automatic, AMT, DCT and CVT.

  • They are available in both petrol and diesel guise.

  • Another highlight of these cars is that they come with premium creature comfort features.

  • The B-segment is divided into B1 (small hatchbacks) and B2 (premium hatchbacks) segments.

B-segment cars in India

3. C-segment (small sedans/family cars)

Small sedans or also called family cars, fall under the C-segment. It is further divided into two segments which we will explain in the following sections. Due to its sub-segments, there are plenty of options when it comes to C-segment cars in India.

Sub-compact sedan segment (C1-segment)

Sub-compact sedans can be defined as an extension of B-segment cars with an added boot for more luggage space. They are compact in dimension and suitable for driving on urban roads. Below are more details of compact sedans.

  • Sub-compact sedans measure just under 4 metres in length.

  • Generally, they feature a similar platform as B-segment hatchbacks.

  • The engine and gearbox options also remain similar to small hatchbacks.

  • The compact sedans come with all the essential safety and creature comfort features.

Sub-compact sedans in India

Maruti Dzire, Honda Amaze, Hyundai Aura and Tata Tigor are some of the compact sedans available in India.

Small sedan segment (C2-segment)

Small sedans offer a spacious interior due to their large body proportions. Yes, they are larger than compact sedans and provide a premium driving experience. Refer to the points below for more details of the segment.

  • The C2-Segment cars measure well over 4 metres in length.

  • Generally, the small sedans are built on a unique platform.

  • The large body proportions increase the weight of the vehicle. Hence, they are available with bigger engines ranging from 1.5-litre to 1.6-litre.

  • You can choose from petrol or diesel engine variants.

  • The automatic, CVT or torque-converter gearbox options make driving them easier despite the large dimensions.

Small sedans in India

Some of the prominent small sedans in India are Honda City, Hyundai Verna, Maruti Ciaz, Skoda Slavia and Toyota Yaris.

4. D-segment (mid-size sedans/family cars)

D-segment cars or mid-segment cars are all about premium design and luxurious interiors. They are larger than C-Segment vehicles and also command a higher price tag. Below are more details of this segment.

  • The D-segment cars are longer than their counterparts from the C-segment in terms of dimensions.

  • The interior offers ample space for rear passengers and comes with all the bells and whistles for comfort and convenience.

  • They get higher capacity engines running between 1.6-litre to 2-litre.

  • Available in both petrol and diesel variants.

  • Similar to C-Segment, the D class further bifurcates into two segments: D1 and D2.

D-segment cars in India

  • D1: Skoda Octavia, Hyundai Elantra, Honda Civic, etc.

  • D2: Honda Accord, Skoda Superb, Toyota Camry, BMW 3-Series, etc.

5. E-segment (executive luxury cars)

If the D-segment cars are all about luxury, the E-segment cars take luxury to the next level. They are also much longer than mid-size sedans. Hence, the interior space is the best in the business in the sedan segment. Below are more details of E-Segment vehicles.

  • The E-Segment cars are longer and wider than any other sedans.

  • The long-wheelbase of the cars result in ample interior space, especially for rear passengers.

  • They are also known as business class cars due to their classy looks and luxurious interiors.

  • The luxury sedans get larger and powerful engines that are over 2-litre.

  • The interior features luxurious seats and all the bells and whistles you can think of in a car.

  • They also come with advanced safety features.

  • They are best suited for long drives on highways.

E-segment cars in India

The E-segment cars in India are BMW 5-Series, Audi A6, BMW 7-Series, etc.

6. M-segment (MPVs - Multi-Purpose Vehicles)

The M-segment cars are nothing but people-mover vehicles. It’s a vast segment as cars come in different sizes and price brackets. It is further divided based on the size of the car. However, an MPV can accommodate a minimum of 6 people. Below are more details about M-segment.

Small MPV segment

As the name suggests, it is an entry-level segment in the M-Segment. They are affordable and offer great value for money. Below are the key highlights of small MPVs.

  • The small MPVs measure just over 4 metres in length, making them easy to drive.

  • The smaller body proportions mean they can do with smaller engines that are fuel-efficient.

  • Generally, the small MPVs come with 6 or 7-seater configurations.

  • They are ideal for commutes within the city and also for long drives. However, the small engine can be a problem for those long hauls.

Small MPV cars in India

Currently, there are only two small MPV cars on sale in India: Maruti Ertiga and Renault Triber.

Mid-size MPV segment

The mid-size MPVs may have the same seating capacity as the small MPV cars. But the legroom, headroom and shoulder room is a lot better than the small MPVs. Below are more details of this segment.

  • Mid-size MPVs are slightly longer than their smaller counterparts.

  • The overall quality of the interior is better due to the higher price tag they command.

  • The engine capacity is bigger than small MPVs, and they can be ideal for long road trips.

  • Mid-size vehicles come equipped with essential safety and creature comfort features, including rear passenger entertainment.

  • They also feature a premium exterior and interior design.

Mid-size MPV cars in India

Toyota Innova Crysta and Marazzo are the mid-size MPVs available in India.

Large/Full-size MPV segment

Large MPVs are the size of a minibus. They are the epitome of luxury in the M-Segment. And befittingly, they are also expensive. The below points throw more light into this segment.

  • Full-size MPVs are enormous in terms of body proportions.

  • They can comfortably accommodate eight people, and that too with good head, leg and shoulder room.

  • To pull the weight of such a large vehicle, they get powerful high capacity engines mated to an automatic gearbox.

  • Large MPVs are luxury on two wheels. The passengers can enjoy features such as personal entertainment, mini-fridge, massage seats, etc.

  • They also get advanced safety technology to ensure a safe journey.

Large/Full-size MPV cars in India

Toyota Vellfire and Kia Carnival are the large MPVs available in India.

7. J-segment (SUVs - Sport Utility Vehicles)

Currently, the J-segment cars are one of the popular categories of vehicles. SUVs come in different shapes and sizes. Hence, they are bifurcated into different categories depending on the size. Here are more details of the J-segment vehicles.

Sub-compact SUV segment

It is one of India's most popular SUV segments as they are affordable and compact. They are ideal for urban roads. Here are more details about sub-compact SUVs.

  • Sub-compact SUV cars measure less than 4 metres in length.

  • They are available with small and fuel-efficient engines.

  • You can choose from petrol and diesel variants along with the option of a manual or automatic gearbox.

  • The interior is spacious and comes loaded with all the essential safety and creature comfort features.

Sub-compact SUV cars in India

Some of the popular sub-compact SUVs in India are Maruti Vitara Brezza, Hyundai Venue, Tata Nexon and Kia Sonet.

Compact SUV segment

As the name suggests, they are slightly bigger than the sub-compact SUVs. They offer adequate space inside the cabin, and five people can travel comfortably. They also provide a commendable value for money. Here are a few more details of the compact SUV segment.

  • The compact SUVs measure just over 4 metres in length.

  • The compact dimensions make them suitable for both urban and highway driving.

  • They come with powerful engines (turbocharged) and offer an engaging driving experience.

  • The cabin is spacious with good legroom and headroom for the rear passengers.

  • They also get a decent amount of tech and creature comfort features. Some compact SUVs also come with connected car technology.

  • They are ideal for road trips as you get enough boot space.

Compact SUV cars in India

Kia Seltos, Hyundai Creta, Nissan Kicks and Renault Duster are some of the prominent compact SUVs in India.

Mid-size SUV segment

It is a segment that perfectly fits between compact and full-size SUVs. With a proportionate body, they offer good interior space compared to compact SUVs. Below are more details of the mid-size SUV segment.

  • The larger body proportions make them ideal for cruising on highways.

  • Depending on the seating arrangement, they can easily accommodate 5 to 8 people.

  • Mid-size SUVs get higher capacity petrol or diesel engines mated to a manual or automatic transmission.

  • The interiors are luxurious with a plethora of creature comfort features to keep you comfortable on those long journeys.

  • They also get the latest technology and advanced safety equipment.

  • Some mid-size SUVs may even come with a 4x4 drivetrain for better performance in off-road conditions.

Mid-size SUV cars in India

Some of the popular mid-size SUVs in India include Tata Harrier, Tata Safari, MG Hector, Mahindra XUV700, MG Hector Plus, etc.

Large/Full-size SUV segment

Full-size SUVs are large and feature a rugged exterior design. They also perform very well in extreme off-road conditions. Here are more details of the full-size SUV segment.

  • Full-size SUVs measure close to 5 metres in length.

  • Large SUVs with huge body proportions can comfortably cruise on highways at triple-digit speeds.

  • Full-size SUVs get powerful diesel or petrol engines under the bonnet. The engines are generally mated to an automatic transmission.

  • The interior is spacious enough to accommodate 5 to 7 people, depending on the seating configuration.

  • The cabin comes with all the creature comfort features.

  • Since the SUVs are large, they come with many driver assistance safety features to compensate for the blind spots.

  • They also come with a high ground clearance and AWD (all-wheel drive) system to cope with rough terrains.

Large/Full-size SUV cars in India

Toyota Fortuner, Ford Endeavour, Mahindra Alturas G4, BMW X5, etc. are some of the full-size SUVs available in India.

8. Crossover segment

Crossovers are a niche segment in India due to the lack of demand. They can be defined as a mixture of a hatchback and SUV in terms of styling. For more details, refer to the points below.

  • They are compact in dimension as they are based on hatchbacks.

  • They get smaller engines similar to compact SUVs.

  • They offer similar cabin space as sub-compact SUVs.

  • Crossovers are feature-loaded. So, there’s nothing to complain about the comfort and in-car entertainment.

Crossover cars in India

Some of the crossover cars in India are Maruti S-Cross, Maruti S-Presso, Honda WR-V, etc.

How to choose the right car segment in India?

Here are the important factors to consider while choosing the car segment.

  • Budget: Before you even explore the cars, it’s important to finalize the budget for your car purchase. That way, you will stick to the car segments available within your budget.

  • Seating capacity: Another vital factor to consider to choose the right car segment is the seating capacity. It purely depends on your family size. Depending on that, you can shortlist the models in a particular segment.

  • Features: The safety and creature comfort features play an essential role in a vehicle. Select a segment that offers all the features you are looking for in your new car. 

  • Driving requirements: Your driving needs are one of the most important criteria while choosing a car. If your driving involves only daily commutes, a hatchback is a sensible choice. Similarly, if you do a lot of long trips, a sedan or SUV is a good option.

  • Running cost: It’s not only the budget that matters, but the running costs too after buying a vehicle. Estimate the running cost beforehand, see if it’s viable for your financial situation, and choose the car accordingly.

Frequently asked questions

Here are some of the most common questions about car segments in India.

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Which is the best car in the small vehicle segment in India?

Cars such as Maruti Alto, Renault Kwid, Maruti Celerio, Tata Tiago, Maruti Swift, Hyundai Santro and Hyundai Grand i10 Nios are some of the best small segment cars in India.

I’m planning to buy a mid-size SUV, which is the best mid-size SUV in India?

Tata Harrier, Hyundai Alcazar and MG Hector are some of the best mid-size SUVs available in India.

Which is the best D-segment car available in India?

Hyundai Elantra, Skoda Octavia, Honda Accord, Skoda Superb and Toyota Camry are some of the best D-segment cars in India.

Are premium segment cars expensive to buy?

The premium segment comprises cars from premium brands or cars with a premium design and features. It may be a hatchback, sedan or SUV. Generally, premium vehicles command a higher price tag due to their creature comfort features and other equipment.

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