European car classification
Car classification in Europe is not officially regulated, instead, it is defined in relative size with other cars. Since 1990s, the cars in Europe are growing in length with about 10-20 cm per model change. Seems that all European companies wants to make a car bigger than competitor’s cars of same class, increasing car class standards with about 2 cm per year, which is exaggerate, based on technology evolution, 5 mm per year is enough. Read more: Car Evolution.
|My own classification
|A||Micro car||Kleinstwagen||Micro car||–||Micro-citadine||<3500 mm|
|Mini car||Kleinstwagen||City car||Subcompact car||Citadine||3600 mm|
|B||Small car||Kleinwagen||Supermini||Subcompact car||Polyvalente||4000 mm|
|C||Compact car||Kompaktklasse||Small family car||Compact car||Compacte||4400 mm|
|D||Medium car||Mittelklasse||Large family car||Compact car||Familiale||4700 mm|
|E||Large car||Obere Mittelklasse||Executive car||Mid-size car||Routière||4900 mm|
|F||Luxury car||Oberklasse /
|Luxury car||Full-size car||Limousine||5100 mm|
|Superluxury car||Oberklasse||Luxury car||Full-size car||Ultra-luxueuse||>5400 mm|
|M||Small MPV||Minivan||Mini MPV||–||Minispace||4100 mm|
|Compact MPV||Kompaktvan||Compact MPV||–||Monospace
|Medium MPV||Van||MPV||Minivan||Monospace||4700 mm|
|Large MPV||Van||MPV||Minivan||Monospace||5000 mm|
|Minibus||Kleinbus||Minibus||Full-size van||Minibus||>5000 mm|
|Roadster||Roadster||Petite sportive||100-300 PS|
|Sport car||Sportwagen||Sport car||Sport car||Sportive||200-500 PS|
|Grand tourer||Gran turismo||Grand tourer||Grand tourer||Grand tourisme||500+ PS|
|J||Off-road vehicle||Geländewagen||Off-road vehicle||?||?||any|
|Small SUV||Geländewagen||Mini SUV||Subcompact SUV||SUV||4100 mm|
|Compact SUV||Geländewagen||Compact SUV||Compact SUV||SUV||4400 mm|
|Medium SUV||Geländewagen||Medium SUV||Compact SUV||SUV||4600 mm|
|Large SUV||Geländewagen||Large SUV||Mid-size SUV||SUV||4900 mm|
|Luxury SUV||Geländewagen||Luxury SUV||Full-size SUV||SUV||5100 mm|
American car classification
American cars in 1940s and 1950s were one-size, about 5 meters long.
The 1950 Nash Rambler being 4500 mm long started the new “compact” segment while normal cars were named full-size. Since early 1960s, most manufacturers launched compact cars, and during mid-1960s the mid-size cars were added between compact and full-size.
The 1970s american car models were the biggest, compact 4800 mm long, mid-size 5200 mm long, full-size 5700 mm long. 1970 AMC Gremlin was the first subcompact car, 4100 mm long. All american car models had successive downsizes from 1970s to 1990s, reaching today sizes of compact 4300-4600 mm long, mid-size 4700-5000 mm long, full-size 5000-5300 mm long.
The longest car produced in significant numbers was 1971 Cadillac Series 75 – 6.4 meters long.
American cars are limited to 2032 mm width (80 in) and most full-size 1960s and 1970s cars had this width. Nowadays cars are 1800-1900 mm wide.
I have included car classes in my databases, but beware, they are official only for cars produced in US, imported cars often fall between car classes so each person may categorize them differently (example: Mazda CX-7 – quote from Wikipedia: “Sales of the CX-7 were mediocre, as it slotted between the sizes of compact and midsize crossovers, so it was not competitive in either category“.
Many imported cars, growing over years, migrated between classes (example: Nissan Maxima, a “large car” by European classification, fitted in american “compact” during 1980s but meantime it grew, the 2004 Nissan Maxima falls between mid-size and full-size). During 1970s, some European medium cars were considered subcompact by american standards, but during 2000s decade the European “medium car” became similar in size with American “mid-size car”, same for compact.
Note about height: Europe classify as MPV the cars over 1600 mm height while United States classify as Minivan the cars over 1700 mm height, so the Small / Compact MPVs from Europe that are around 1600-1700 mm tall, when imported to USA they are classified as hatchbacks.
Japanese car classification
Japan is the ONLY country in the world where car tax system is based on vehicle dimensions, thus encouraging manufacturers to stick under some limits…
“Kei cars” are currently limited at 3400 mm length and 1480 mm width, and 64 horsepower.
Most popular are “compact cars”, up to 4700 mm length and 1700 mm width.
Any car model above this limit is heavily taxed.