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.
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—and most examples of the markedly bulbous styling of the ponton genre are three-box designs.
One-box, also called a monospace, mono-box or monovolume configuration, is a design that pulls the base of a vehicle's A-pillars forward, softening any distinction between separate volumes and enclosing the entire interior of a vehicle in a single form—as with the Renault Espace, 1992 Renault Twingo I, Tata Nano and Japanese microvans amongst others.
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.
- "Car Design Glossary - Part 2: One-Box (Monospace or Monovolume)". Car Design News. “The principal volumes of the traditional sedan can be split into separate compartments or boxes: the hood/bonnet is the first box; the passenger compartment the second, and the trunk/boot the third—i.e. it's a 'three-box' car.”
- "Fiat Linea". Car Design News.
- "Car Design Glossary - Part 2: One-Box (Monospace or Monovolume)". Car Design News.
- Mike Mueller (2003). American Cars of the '50s. Crestline Imprints. ISBN 0-7603-1712-7.
- "Car Design Glossary - Part 2: One-Box (Monospace or Monovolume)". Car Design News. “A three or five-door hatchback (no separate trunk compartment) is a 'two-box' car.”
- European Commission classification
- NCAP Comparable cars
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