Understanding car segments will help you to decide what car is best for you Image Credit: GN Archive

Have you ever wondered what all the different types of car-sizes are? It can be very confusing, especially if you’re looking to buy one.

Understanding the different sizes of car is important I ensuring that it meets your needs.

Note: All prices specified are rough averages based on current retail prices and are intended as a guide only.

A segment

Mini-compact (supermini)

Mini-compact cars are intended for urban use. They have been purposefully designed to be small so that they are ideal for city driving, which includes making parking much easier. They normally have only four seats, although passengers sitting in the back won’t be blessed with much in the way of leg room.

While they are capable of motorway driving, they won’t offer much comfort, and the small engines that are normally fitted will struggle to overtake, especially if you have passengers. Boot space is generally small, but they are ideal for students due to their low-running costs.

Brand A segment examples
Standard Fiat 500 Kia Picanto Chevrolet Spark Hyundai i10

New car prices start from Dh30,000 appx

B segment

Sub-compact supermini

Sub-compact cars are a popular compromise between min-compacts and slightly bigger family cars. While most of them are fitted with five seats, full occupancy can be an uncomfortable squeeze, especially for journeys longer than 30 minutes.

They are practical for transporting small loads, and hatchback models will usually have rear seats which fold-down. Sub-compact cars with saloon bodies have reasonable boot space, and these cars are popular with young drivers or those on a budget.

Brand B segment examples
Standard Hyundai Accent Nissan Sunny Kia Rio Toyota Yaris

New car prices start from Dh40,000 appx

C segment

Small family car  

The small family car, sometimes referred to as a “compact car”, is one of the most popular segments. Models come with five seats and ample boot space, and they are ideal for commuters and families with up to two children.

Hatchback models will usually feature folding rear seats, which mean you can transport average-sized pieces of furniture. It’s the practicality and versatility that is this segment’s biggest draws.

The range of engines in this class normally starts at 1.4 litres, which is sufficient for motorway driving. For an all-round better ride, 1.6 or 1.8 litre engines are preferable. Running costs are affordable.

Brand C segment examples
Standard Ford Focus Volkswagen Golf Hyundai Elantra Toyota Corolla
Prestige BMW 1 Series Mercedes A Class Audi A3 Alfa Romeo Guilietta

New car prices for standard brands start from Dh55,000 appx. Prestige brands upwards of Dh100,000 appx.

D segment

Large family car, compact executive saloon

Unofficially, the difference between a large family car and a compact executive saloon is the badge. While a Toyota Camry and a BMW 3 Series are the same size, the people who buy them are quite different.

Prestige badges, such as the BMW 3 Series or Mercedes C Class are favoured by commuters in executive jobs, while the Toyota Camry and Ford Fusion are viewed more as a family saloon.

Five seats and ample space, together with an engine range that normally starts at 1.8 litres, means that motorway driving is comfortable. Boot space is generous in the main. They have been designed to cope with families.

Brand D segment examples
Standard Ford Fusion Toyota Camry Volkswagen Passat Honda Accord
Prestige BMW 3 Series Mercedes C Class Audi A4 Jaguar XE

New car prices for standard brands start around Dh80,000, while prestige brands begin at Dh120,000 appx.

E segment

Mid-size executive cars

Mid-size executive cars are most common in saloon body form, although estate versions are also popular in Europe. This segment usually appeals to the same type of people who opt for something from segment D, but who want more space and more features. However this comes at a cost and, depending on the badge, you will be paying more than you would for a D segment car.

Cars in this segment are practical on many levels and ideal for families of up to three children. They will come with more extras as standard and running costs will remain affordable.

Brand E segment examples
Standard Toyota Aurion Nissan Altima Hyundai Sonata Ford Taurus
Prestige Mercedes E Class BMW 5 Series Audi A6 Lexus ES

New car prices for standard brands start at Dh115,000, while prestige brands begin at around Dh170,000 appx.

F segment

Full-size luxury cars

Full-size luxury cars are generally quite expensive, with cars in this segment frequently exceeding prices of Dh300,000 and more. Saloon cars dominate this class – the only other being estate cars – and they have been built with longer wheelbases and wider tracks to ensure maximum comfort.

Their cost reflects not just the luxury interior and optional extras, but their relative effortless to drive. Motorway driving is usually dealt with in the utmost comfort – depending on the model. While boot space is quite big, it’s important to note that not all F segment cars are suitable for families. Some top-end examples only have four seats.

Brand F segment examples
Standard Nissan Maxima Toyota Avalon Hyundai Genesis Volkswagen Phaeton
Prestige Mercedes S Class BMW 7 Series Audi A8 Lexus LS

New car prices for standard brands start at around Dh130,000, while prestige brands are upwards of Dh240,000.

M segment

Small MPV, mid-size MPV, full-size MPV

Multi-purpose vehicles – MPVs – exist solely for families and transporting people around. Small MPVs come with five seats but you won’t find many in the UAE. Mid-size MPVs come with anywhere between five and seven seats, while full-size MPV can seat up to nine people.

All MPVs offer lots of practicality, with folding seat arrangements allowing you to transport large items such as furniture.

However, despite the MPV being solely for larger families there are considerations that must be made. If you buy a seven-seater, you’ll find that the boot space is quite small and, more worryingly, the back seats are very close to the tailgate, which in the event of a rear-end accident could prove dangerous.

Type M segment examples
Full Honda Odyssey Chrysler Grand Voyager Toyota Previa Hyundai H1

Large MPVs begin at around Dh120,000 appx.

S segment

Sports cars, grand Tourer, supercar, cabriolet, roadster

The S segment is far less-descript than others since it houses a wide array of car-types. In essence, though, they are all sports cars. Cabriolets are convertible cars which have four or five seats, while a roadster is a two-seater convertible. While desirable, they don’t offer the practicality found in their hard-top counterparts. Mainly this is due to the reclining roof eating into boot space. These cars are also heavy because their structure has to be reinforced to compensate for the absence of a roof.

Ideal for those who either don’t have children or have older children who don’t rely on being chauffeured around.

Grand Tourers – GT cars – are more expensive versions of sports cars, and feature 2+2 seat layout. GT cars are designed to be both sporty and luxurious, and are the favoured choice of the more affluent motorist.

Supercars don’t follow any set pattern, but needless to say they have to look good, be fast and, of course, by very expensive.

Type S segment examples
Roadster Mazda MX-5 (drop top) Audi TT (soft top) BMW Z4 (soft top) Mercedes SLK (soft top)
Cabriolet Ford Mustang (soft top) Chevrolet Camaro (soft top) Volkswagen Eos (drop top) BMW 4 Series (drop top)
Sports car Ford Mustang Chevrolet Camaro Mitsubishi Eclipse Toyota 86
GT Aston Martin DB9 Bentley Continental GT Ferrari FF Maserati Granturismo
Supercar Bugatti Veyron Ferrari 458 Porsche 911 McLaren 650S

Roadsters and cabriolets can begin as low as Dh120,000, while GT cars are upwards of Dh300,000. Sports cars can also vary, with entry models costing around Dh115,000 appx.

J segment

Mini SUV, compact SUV, mid-size SUV, full-size SUV

SUVs are one of the most common choices of vehicle for motorists in the UAE, primarily based on the practicality they offer. People are also drawn to the perceived robustness and protection they offer in the event of an accident.

While there is nothing wrong with these cars, a number of on the mini and compact varieties are indeed “crossovers”, meaning that their designed is based on that of other models from the manufacturers range.

In real terms, mini and compact SUVs don’t offer much additional benefit than their B, C, and D segment counterparts. They are preferred as more of a lifestyle vehicle, ideal for transporting equipment like watersports equipment and bicycles. Engine ranges can be anything between 1.6 and 2.5 litres, and they are more affordable to run than a lot of people realise.

Mid-size SUVs, such as the famous Toyota Land Cruiser are popular and are indeed suitable for families of up to seven. They offer ample boot space and are well-suited to motorway driving. They can be tricky to park in older car parks, especially in places like Deira. Full-size SUVs, like the Toyota Sequioa are perfect for large families, but they are huge. Despite the excellent practicality they offer, they can be difficult to park and expensive to run. Engine sizes vary between 2.5 and 5 litres.

Mini pickup trucks, mid-size pickup trucks, full-size pickup trucks, and heavy duty pickup trucks don’t officially fall into the J segment, but as most are effective variations of SUVs, the same parameters apply. In the main, though, they offer less space for passengers, even five-seater double cabs, in favour of excellent flat-be space.

Type J segment examples
Mini Ford Ecosport Daihatsu Terios Jeep Wrangler Suzuki Jimmy
Compact Toyota RAV4 Honda CR-V Ford Escape Chevrolet Captiva
Mid Toyota Land Cruiser Land Rover Discovery Nissan Pathfinder GMC Terrain
Full Nissan Patrol Toyota Sequoia Range Rover Audi Q7

Mini SUVs can start as low as Dh60,000, with compact SUVs being as low as Dh70,000. Mid-size SUVs are upwards of Dh110,000 while full-size SUVs begin at Dh160,000.

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