Small cars are incredibly popular. They’re fun to drive, and typically the most affordable options on the market, especially important for all-electrics, which come at a price premium.
The only real downside is the limit to space in the back seats and boot, and that all-electric versions have smaller ranges than their bigger brothers, which makes them usually more suited to local driving, though they are fully capable of crossing the country with a quick charge-stop in the middle.
City cars are the smallest type, which offer exceptionally easy driving and parking, making tight streets and parking spots a doddle. However, with that, passenger and boot space are both severely restricted, so this body type generally suits one or two occupants doing city and town driving, with only minimal luggage needs.
Meanwhile superminis are bigger and they offer valuable extra space. They can seat four occupants much easier, and typically have large enough luggage space to fit a suitcase or buggy.
Some popular all-electric models are the Mini Electric, Vauxhall Corsa-e, Renault Zoe, Volkswagen e-Up, Fiat 500, and Peugeot e-208.
While some popular hybrid models are the Toyota Yaris Hybrid, and Renault Clio Self-Charging Hybrid.
Hatchback & Crossover
A hatchback (or family hatchback) is larger than a supermini, and smaller than a saloon car. It has a larger chassis than a supermini, but with the same kind of back (in that the boot lid and rear windscreen are one unit).
In many ways a hatchback offers the best of both worlds, by offering nimble driving and easy parking, along with more passenger space, which makes seating five occupants more comfortable, along with a little extra storage in the boot.
The range for hatchbacks is usually longer too, making them better suited to regular longer trips.
The most important thing to consider here is that if your hatchback will be for family use, to make sure there is enough space to comfortably seat those in the back for long journeys. And to decide what kind of range you’ll need for the driving you do – though it’s best to be realistic, in most cases a shorter range will be more than sufficient, and will cost less than a higher range model.
Some popular all-electric options are the Volkswagen ID3, BMW i3, Hyundai Kona Electric, Kia Soul.
While some popular hybrid models are the Audi A3 Sportback Plug-in Hybrid, Mercedes Benz A Class Plug-in Hybrid, Honda Jazz Self-Charging Hybrid, and Suzuki Swift Mild Hybrid.
Saloons are longer than hatchbacks, and sometimes described as ‘three-box’ cars (with a front section, main cabin, and rear boot section) and due to their longer wheelbase they offer significantly more legroom to passengers than a hatchback.
However, while saloons offer more cabin space for a family, the boot space can vary drastically, so it’s worth looking at the boot space volume and comparing options against each other, if storage space is important for you.
Saloons and estate usually offer a longer range than their smaller counterparts, but these too can vary drastically, so it’s worth comparing options.
Some popular all-electric models are the Tesla Model 3 Saloon Electric, Audi e-tron GT Saloon Electric, Audi RS e-tron GT Saloon, and the Porsche Taycon Saloon Electric.
While some popular hybrid models are the Volkswagen Passat Saloon Plug-in Hybrid, the Mercedes Benz A Class Saloon Plug-in Hybrid, BMW 5 Series Saloon Plug-in Hybrid, and Volvo S90 Saloon Plug-in Hybrid.
Estate cars are essentially a saloon (or a hatchback) model, with increased upper boot space. As while the saloon car rear window is at the back of the passenger cabin, in an estate it’s further back at the boot lid instead (like a hatchback), which therefore expands the storage space volume.
The length of the car also tends to be a little longer to incorporate slightly different dimensions.
The clear advantage here is extra storage space for those who need or want it, along with the range benefits of a saloon-sized car.
Some popular all-electric models are the Volkswagen ID.4 Electric, the Kia EV6 Electric, and the Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo Electric.
While some popular hybrid models are the Skoda Octavia Plug-in Hybrid, the Skoda Superb Plug-in Hybrid, Volkswagen Passat Plug-in Hybrid, Volvo V90 Plug-in Hybrid, and the BMW 3 Series Touring Plug-in Hybrid.
MPVs (Multi-Purpose Vehicles) are also referred to as people carriers, which is perhaps more accurate as a description. They have tall and box-like dimensions, designed to create as much interior space as possible for passengers and storage, and they frequently offer more seats than a hatchback or saloon.
An MPV is ideal for a large family that needs space. Larger models sometimes have seven seats, with the ability to fold the back two down in order to create a flat floor boot space.
Some popular all-electric models are the Mercedes-Benz EQV Electric, Peugeot e-Traveller MPV Electric, and Citroën e-Space Tourer MPV Electric.
While a popular hybrid model is the Ford S-Max Self-Charging Hybrid.
An SUV (which stands for Sports Utility Vehicle) combines elements from a family car, with features from off-road vehicles, such as raised ground clearance. Their predecessors, the hardy original 4×4, was simply built to get across rough terrain with four-wheel drive. While the evolved family body type of an SUV is instead built for comfort, and can come in two-wheel-drive, have the ability to switch to four-wheel drive, or be four-wheel drive.
There is no clear definition of an SUV, and they can vary greatly in what they offer, but in general they are characterised by increased height, large wheels, with bold and sporty dimensions and styling.
They’re bigger than other family cars, and typically offer more power and cargo capacity. The driving experience is excellent, in terms of a smooth ride that almost equals a saloon or estate, but with a higher driving position, which gives better visibility.
SUVs have become exceptionally popular by combining space with power, which suits with large families and space requirements, while looking great and offering a satisfying driving experience. For this reason, car manufacturers quickly looked to develop hybrid and all-electric SUV and crossover models, many with enhanced ranges to match the capability of their conbustion engine counterparts.
Like saloons, the range offered in most SUVs is very high for both plug-ins and all-electric choices, but it’s important to decide how much you realistically need, and to compare your options.
Some popular all-electric models are BMW iX Electric, the Ford Mustang Mach-e Electric, Tesla Model X Electric, and Jaguar I-Pace Electric.
While some popular hybrid models are the BMW X5 Plug-in Hybrid, Mercedes Benz GLE Plug-in Hybrid, Toyota RAV4 Plug-in Hybrid, Suzuki Across Plug-in Hybrid, and the Vauxhall Grandland X Plug-in Hybrid.
A coupe is typically a two-door car with a fixed roof and a sloping rear. Essentially, a two-door version of a saloon, with two fully functional seats at the front, and two small seats in the back.
The sleek body shape gives an aspirational feel, and an attractive silhouette, while the drive handling is superb. The downsides are that they lack interior space for much storage or passengers in the back.
Some popular hybrid models are the Porsche Cayenne Coupe Plug-in Hybrid, the Polestar 1 Coupe Plug-in Hybrid, the BMW 8 Series Gran Coupe Mild Hybrid, the BMW 2 Series Coupe Mild Hybrid, and the Mercedes-Benz E Class AMG Coupe Mild Hybrid.
Always fancied driving a convertible? Of course you have. They typically come with retractable fabric or metal cover and offer sporty driving and attractive style, which can be enjoyed to the full with the roof down on a gloriously warm day.
The benefits are that you’ll look like you’re living the dream, they’re fun to drive, and they come into their own during spring and summer. The downsides are that they lack interior space for storage or passengers, and can feel a little less practical during the winter.
A popular small all-electric model is the Fiat 500 c Convertible Electric, as is the Smart Fortwo Cabrio Electric.
While some larger and more premium hybrid models are the Mercedes-Benz E Class Cabriolet Mild Hybrid, BMW 8 Series Convertible Mild Hybrid, and the BMW 4 Series Convertible Mild Hybrid.
Test drive the models you love
To see if a certain body type is right for you, you need to test drive it, to see how it feels – especially if you are new to driving electric or hybrid – and to see if it fits your needs, such as having enough passenger and boot space etc.
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