Three-box styling

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Typical pillar configurations of a sedan (three box), station wagon (two box), and hatchback (two box) from the same model range. Three body styles with pillars and boxes.png
Typical pillar configurations of a sedan (three box), station wagon (two box), and hatchback (two box) from the same model range.
A three-box coupe in notchback form, the Fiat 124 Three box notchback Fiat 124.jpg
A three-box coupé in notchback form, the Fiat 124
A three-box hatchback in notchback form--with its vestigial third box, the European Ford Escort Hatchback three box.jpg
A three-box hatchback in notchback form—with its vestigial third box, the European Ford Escort
A three-box sedan, the Renault Dauphine, with articulated engine (rear), passenger and cargo (front) volumes. Three-box & rear engine.jpg
A three-box sedan, the Renault Dauphine, with articulated engine (rear), passenger and cargo (front) volumes.

Three-box design is a broad automotive styling term describing a coupé, sedan, notchback or hatchback where—when viewed in profile—principal volumes are articulated into three separate compartments or boxes: engine, passenger and cargo. [1]

Coupé closed two-door car body style with a permanently attached fixed roof which is shorter than a sedan

A coupé or coupe is a two-door car with a fixed roof. In the 21st century there are four-door cars with a coupé-like roofline sold as "four door coupés" or "quad coupés".

Sedan (automobile) passenger car in a three-box configuration

A sedan — also saloon — is a passenger car in a three-box configuration with separate compartments for engine, passenger and cargo.

Notchback type of three-box automotive styling

A notchback is a category of car characterized as having a three-box design where the trunk (boot) volume is less pronounced than the engine and passenger compartments.


Three-box designs are highly variable. The Renault Dauphine is a three-box that carries its engine in the rear and its cargo up front. The styling of the Škoda Octavia integrates a hatchback with the articulation of a three-box. This style was later used by its larger Škoda Superb, which marketed as the TwinDoor, within the liftgate operable as a trunk lid or as a full hatchback. As with the third generation European Ford Escort (also a hatchback), the third box may be vestigial. And three-box styling need not be boxy: Car Design News calls the fluid and rounded Fiat Linea a three-box design [2] —and most examples of the markedly bulbous styling of the ponton genre are three-box designs.

Renault Dauphine car model

Renault Dauphine is a rear-engined economy car manufactured by Renault in a single body style – a three-box, 4-door saloon – as the successor to the Renault 4CV; more than two million were manufactured during its 1956-1967 production.

Škoda Octavia car model

The Škoda Octavia is a small family car produced by the Czech manufacturer Škoda Auto since 1996. It shares its name with an earlier model produced between 1959 and 1971. There have been three generations of the modern-era Octavia model to date, delivered with 5-door liftback saloon or 5-door estate styles only. The car is front engined, both front or four wheel drive (4x4) are offered. Around five million units have been sold in its two decades of presence on the market. The Octavia is Škoda's most popular model, approximately 40% of all newly manufactured Škoda cars are Octavias.

Hatchback car body configuration with a rear door that swings upward to provide access to a cargo area

A hatchback is a car with a hatch-type rear door that opens upwards and often a shared volume for the passenger and cargo areas.

One-box design

One-box, also called a monospace, mono-box or monovolume configuration, [1] is a design that pulls the base of a vehicle's A-pillars forward, [1] [3] softening any distinction between separate volumes and enclosing the entire interior of a vehicle in a single form—as with the Toyota Prius, Renault Espace, 1992 Renault Twingo I, Tata Nano and Japanese microvans amongst others.

Toyota Prius The Toyota Prius is a full hybrid mid-size hatchback. The model went on sale in Japan in 1997.

The Toyota Prius is a full hybrid electric automobile developed by Toyota and manufactured by the company since 1997. Initially offered as a 4-door sedan, it has been produced only as a 5-door liftback since 2003.

Renault Espace car model

The Renault Espace is a mid-size luxury crossover manufactured by Renault currently in its fifth generation.

Tata Nano car model

The Tata Nano was a compact city car manufactured and marketed by Indian automaker Tata Motors over a single generation, primarily in India, as an inexpensive rear-engined hatchback intended to appeal to current riders of motorcycles and scooters — with a launch price of one lakh rupees or US$2500 in the year 2008.

Two-box design

Two-box designs articulate a volume for engine and a volume that combines passenger and cargo volumes, e.g., station wagons or (three or five-door) hatchbacks, and minivans like the Chrysler minivan. [1] [3]

Station wagon automotive body-style variant of a sedan/saloon with its roof extended rearward over a shared passenger/cargo volume with access at the back via a third or fifth door (liftgate/tailgate), instead of a trunk/boot lid

A station wagon is a car body style which has a "two-box design": one for the engine, and the other a passenger area that includes a large cargo area and rear tailgate hinged to open from the back for access to the cargo area. The body style is similar to hatchback cars, however, station wagons are longer, and are more likely to have the roofline extended to the rear of the car to maximize the cargo space.

Chrysler Town & Country

The Chrysler Town & Country is a minivan that was manufactured and marketed by Chrysler. It was introduced in 1989 for the 1990 model year. The Chrysler group minivans, which include the Dodge Caravan/Dodge Grand Caravan and included the Plymouth Voyager/Plymouth Grand Voyager/Chrysler Voyager, have ranked as the 13th bestselling automotive nameplates worldwide, with over 12 million sold.

See also

Coke bottle styling

Coke bottle styling is any automotive body styling that bears an overall body shape resembling the Coca-Cola soft drink's classic glass contour bottle design when viewed in profile. It is a style of automobile bodies with outward curving fenders with a narrow center. In contrast to "straight-edge" designs, automobiles such as the sixth generation AMC Ambassador featured "swoopy lines ... in the 'Coke bottle' mode".

A glossary of terms relating to automotive design.

Related Research Articles

A minivan, people carrier, MPV or MUV is a vehicle classification describing a high-roof vehicle with a flexible interior layout. Smaller sizes are mini MPV and compact MPV classifications.

Governments and private organizations have developed car classification schemes that are used for various purposes including regulation, description and categorization, among others. This article details commonly used classification schemes in use worldwide.

Renault Mégane Car model manufactured by Renault

The Renault Mégane is a small family car produced by the French car manufacturer Renault since the end of 1995, and was the successor to the Renault 19. The Mégane has been offered in three and five door hatchback, saloon, coupé, convertible and estate bodystyles at various points in its lifetime, and having been through three generations is now in its fourth incarnation.

Rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout

In automotive design, an RR, or Rear-engine, Rear-wheel-drive layout places both the engine and drive wheels at the rear of the vehicle. In contrast to the RMR layout, the center of mass of the engine is between the rear axle and the rear bumper. Although very common in transit buses and coaches due to the elimination of the drive shaft with low-floor bus, this layout has become increasingly rare in passenger cars.

Eagle Summit car model

The Eagle Summit is a subcompact car that was produced by Mitsubishi and sold by Eagle from 1989 to 1996. It was sold as a captive import by the Jeep-Eagle sales division that was created after Chrysler Corporation purchased American Motors Corporation (AMC) in 1987.

Peugeot 204 car model

The Peugeot 204 is a small family car produced by the French manufacturer Peugeot between 1965 and 1976.

Nissan Sunny car model

The Nissan Sunny is a midsize sedan car built by the Japanese automaker Nissan from 1966 to 2006. In the early 1980s, the brand changed from Datsun to Nissan in line with other models by the company. Although production of the Sunny in Japan ended in 2006, the name remains in use in the Chinese market for a rebadged version of the Nissan Latio.

Renault Juvaquatre car model

The Renault Juvaquatre is a small family car / compact car automobile produced by the French manufacturer Renault between 1937 and 1960, although production stopped or slowed to a trickle during the war years. The Juvaquatre was produced as a sedan/saloon until 1948 when the plant switched its full attention to the new Renault 4CV. During the second half of 1952 the plant restarted production of the Juvaquatre sedans/saloons for a period of approximately five months.

Mini MPV

Mini MPV or B-segment MPV is a vehicle size classification describing a high-roof supermini or subcompact hatchback with a flexible interior layout, fitting below the compact MPV and large MPV/Minivan classifications.

Nissan Cherry car model

The Datsun Cherry (チェリー), known later as the Nissan Cherry, was a series of subcompact cars which formed Nissan's first front-wheel drive supermini model line.

Ponton (car)

Ponton or pontoon styling refers to a 1930s–1960s car design genre. The trend emerged as bodywork began to enclose the full width and uninterrupted length of a car, incorporating previously distinct running boards and articulated fenders. The fenders of an automobile with ponton styling may also be called Pontoon fenders, and the overall trend may also be known as envelope styling.

1992 in motoring includes developments in the automotive industry that occurred throughout the year 1992 by various automobile manufacturers, grouped by country. The automotive industry designs, develops, manufactures, markets, and sells motor vehicles.

Fiat Tipo (2015)

The Fiat Tipo, is a compact car. Its sedan version was unveiled at the 2015 Istanbul Motor Show in May 2015, and commenced sales in Turkey in October 2015. The sedan is not offered by Fiat in the United Kingdom.

Chrysler minivans (S)

The first-generation Chrysler minivans are a series of minivans produced and marketed by the Chrysler Corporation in North American and Europe from 1984 to 1990. Sold in both passenger and cargo configurations, the series is the first of six generations of Chrysler minivans. Launched ahead of chief competitors Chevrolet Astro/GMC Safari and Ford Aerostar, the first-generation Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager effectively created the modern minivan segment in North America, with many later North American minivans adopting a similar body configuration.

Fiat Cronos

The Fiat Cronos is a subcompact car released in February 2018 by the Italian automaker Fiat, as a sedan for the market in Latin America.


  1. 1 2 3 4 "Starting Out: Car Design Glossary - Part 2 pg 3". Retrieved 31 May 2018.
  2. "Fiat Linea". Car Design News.
  3. 1 2 Mike Mueller (2003). American Cars of the '50s. Crestline Imprints. ISBN   0-7603-1712-7.