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All about medium cars

What is a medium car?

A medium-sized car, or mid-sized car, is what is known in the industry as a D-segment vehicle.

The Toyota Camry is a typical example of a medium car, and has come to define the segment as the Camry segment or Camry class.

What size exactly is a medium car?

Medium-sized cars or mid-sized vehicles are not sized what they used to be.

In the past, they were well under 4.5 metres long and under 1.8 metres in width, but today they regularly approach 4.8 metres and often exceed this.

Are there different categories of medium cars?

Yes, there are two different categories of medium cars, as defined by the FCAI Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries – Medium Under $60,000 class and medium over $60,000 class.

However, most people associate the Medium Over $60,000 category as the Prestige class.

What shapes or body styles do medium cars come in?

The very word ‘medium’ suggests middling or middle-of-the-road, and so not surprisingly, most mid-sized cars are four-door sedan (also known as a 4DR notch or notchback, or three-box design), with a boot (or trunk) in the back.

Medium cars are also often available in five-door hatchback (or hatch) styles. An example of this is the popular Mazda 6 (or Mazda6) hatch.

In the past, there was almost always a station wagon (or wagon, or estate) version of the medium-sized car, with four-doors and a tailgate or lift-up rear door.

However, these have faded in popularity over the last few years as compact SUVs have eaten heavily into medium car sales.

Mid-sized cars used to occasionally be offered in two-door coupe or two-door sedan guises, and there were even three-door hatchback (or hatch) versions of some models, but these have also all but disappeared from the new-car market.

What engine choices are available in medium cars?

Most medium-sized cars these days have a petrol engine, of between 2.0-litre and 3.0-litre in size. The Camry, for instance, has a 2.4-litre engine while the Mazda6 has a 2.5-litre engine.

Four cylinders (4-cylinder) are the norm, though there have been five-cylinder, V5, six- cylinder, and V6 engine configurations in the past.

Most are naturally aspirated petrol engines, although increasingly, turbo-charged (or Turbo) engines are being utilised in smaller-capacity configurations, as this seems to result in significantly lower emissions.

However, diesel engines are becoming increasingly popular in medium-sized cars. They range in power from about 1.8 litres to 2.5 litres. European and Korean mid-sized cars are the most prolific diesel-engined models.

Many diesels have different names to denote their engines – such as TDI, HDi, TDCi, CDTi, CRD, CRDi and MZR-CD.

Automatic transmission is the most common gearbox in medium cars – ranging from a four-speed, through to a five-speed and six-speed automatic. A few even have a CVT or Continuously Variable Transmission.

Then there is the medium sized car in manual gearbox guise, in five or six-speed manual transmission set-up.

Are medium cars front wheel drive or rear wheel drive?

Today the overwhelming number of medium sized cars is front-wheel drive (FWD). Front-drive started to become popular in the mid-sized car class during the 1980s, for reasons of packaging efficiency and interior room benefits.

Before that, they were almost universally rear-wheel drive (RWD), with the pioneering mainstream medium sized car, the Ford Cortina Mk1 of the early 1960s, brandishing RWD.

Subaru, however, is one manufacturer that has bucked both trends by having its medium-sized car – the Liberty – sold as an all-wheel drive (AWD) or four-wheel drive (4WD) vehicle. This system offers some inherent grip advantages on various roads and in some inclement weather conditions.

There are also differences between medium-sized cars with AWD – with the Subaru’s, for example, being a permanent AWD or full-time 4WD set-up, while others have torque delivered to the rear wheels only when extra traction needs call for it.

What are the environmental or green medium cars?

Most people recognise that diesel-powered medium cars are the most environmental because they generally have a lower carbon dioxide emission rating, and burn diesel more slowly, thus eeking out greater distance from the same amount of fuel compared to a petrol mid-sized car.

However, nitrogen oxide levels are higher in diesel cars, such negating some of the CO2 benefits.

Diesel engined cars also cost more – perhaps in excess of 15 per cent more at times – than their petrol-powered medium car counterparts… although this is offset in many situations by significantly higher resale values and a reputation for being longer lasting.

What about hybrid medium cars?

Hybrid medium cars are being produced in the form of the Toyota Camry Hybrid. A petrol-electric hybrid, this is scheduled to be produced in Australia from 2010.

What are the advantages of picking a medium car?

A mid-sized car may not quite have the width of a large car, but this is only really obvious if you need to carry a large child or adult in the middle-rear seat. Otherwise, there is almost as much legroom and headroom in a medium sized car as there are in bigger vehicles.

Fuel consumption benefits because most medium-sized cars weigh less than their larger-car counterparts.

Mid-sized cars are also slightly shorter usually, making them easier to place and park, and do not take up as much space in a garage or parking spot as a result.

Finally, medium sized cars seem to have a better resale value rating than their larger-car brethren, as many people are concerned about the excess and waste that bigger vehicles are synonymous with.

What are the disadvantages of choosing a medium car?

Generally speaking, medium-sized cars are not as manoeuvrable or ‘cool’ as small cars, not as spacious as larger vehicles, and are often not as much fun to drive, as many of the mainstream manufacturers do not really bother with providing a sports version of what is essentially family transport.

Where do medium cars come from?

Most of the more popular medium-sized cars come from Asia, although Europe is another popular source of mid-sized vehicles.

Medium cars are assembled or manufactured in places as far afield as Japan, South Korea, Germany, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Italy, Spain, and England.

What are the best medium cars?

Some of the better medium cars are the Ford Mondeo, Mazda 6 (or Mazda6), Honda Accord Euro, Subaru Liberty, Volvo S40, Volvo V50, Renault Scenic , Citroen C5 and Volkswagen Passat.

What are some of the popular medium cars?

The Toyota Camry is a sales leader, while the Honda Accord Euro, Mazda 6, Subaru Liberty and Ford Mondeo are also strong sellers.

What are some of the discontinued or unavailable medium cars?

In no particular order of merit, some of the most prominent medium or mid-sized sedans were the Ford Cortina, Holden Torana, Holden Vectra, Holden Camira, Holden Apollo, Toyota Corona, Datsun 200B, Datsun 180B, Nissan Pintara, Nissan Bluebird, Datsun Bluebird, Ford Corsair, Ford Telstar, Ford TX5, Alfa Romeo Alfetta, Alfa Romeo 156, Alfa Romeo Giulietta, Alfa Romeo Giulia, Alfa Romeo 155, Alfa Romeo 75, Citroen Xantia, Citroen BX, Citroen GS, Renault 16, Renault 21, Renault 20, Opel Ascona, Opel Vectra, Chrysler Sigma, Chrysler Centura, Mitsubishi Sigma, Mitsubishi Magna, Mitsubishi Galant, Mazda 626, Mazda 616, Mazda Capella, Mazda 1500, Mazda 1800, Isuzu Aska, Seat Toledo, Fiat 131, Fiat 132, Kia Credos, Kia Optima, Kia Clarus, Kia Concord, Hillman Hunter, Hillman Avenger, Austin 1800, Austin Princess, Austin Ambassador, Austin Maestro, Austin Maxi, Rover 600, Peugeot 404, Peugeot 405, Peugeot 406, Peugeot 504, Peugeot 505 and Toyota Carina.

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