Mitsubishi120130813IN American (as well as Canadian, Australian and New Zealand) English, it is called a “sedan” while British English prefer “saloon.” Whatever the case, it is essentially a passenger car with A-, B- and C-pillars, has separate compartments for engine, passenger and cargo, and can come in either two or four-door layout.

In American English, its engine compartment is covered by the “hood” while the cargo compartment at the rear is called the “trunk.” British English, meanwhile, refers to the hood as the “bonnet” and to the trunk as the “boot.”

But “saloon” is sometimes used by British car manufacturers in the US. For example, the Rolls-Royce Park Ward was sold as a saloon there even if the Silver Seraph—which was smaller—was called a sedan.

In Australia boot and bonnet are retained even if sedan is used. In New Zealand boot, bonnet and windscreen are most commonly used, too. In other languages, sedans are known as “berline” (French), “berlina” (European Spanish, European Portuguese, Romanian and Italian), although these terms may also include hatchbacks. In German, “limousine” is used for sedans and “stretch limousine’ for limousines—which are really long sedans.

“Sedan” was derived from a southern Italian dialect, which means “sedia” or chair. The first automobile to use the sedan configuration was the 1899 Renault Voiturette Type B. The first closed car that used the word “sedan” was the 1911 Speedwell that was manufactured by the Speedwell Motor Co. in Dayton, Ohio.

Sedans are almost always fully closed. The term “convertible sedan” was first used in the 1930s to describe a car with a soft, foldable top and roll-up windows—very much like a convertible coupé.

There are five types of sedans; notchback, fastback, hardtop, hatchback, and limousine. A notchback has its passenger volume clearly distinct from its trunk volume. A fastback is a two-box sedan that has a continuous slope from the roof to the base of the trunk. A hardtop sedan has no B-pillar for roof support behind the front doors. A hatchback typically has the fastback profile but instead of a trunk lid, the entire back of the vehicle lifts up. A limousine has a separate compartment for the driver and the passengers, and is long enough to contain at least two forward-facing bench seats.


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