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4 Technical bulletins

38 Class MC vehicle definition


With the introduction of mandatory electronic stability control (ESC) requirements for class MC vehicles border checked from 1 March 2016, clarification has been sought from the Transport Agency as to how the definition of class MC vehicles, as set out in Table A of the various Land Transport Rules, should be interpreted and applied.

This technical bulletin sets out the Transport Agency’s interpretation of the definition to enable it to be applied consistently by Entry Certifiers and vehicle importers.


A class MC vehicle is defined by Land Transport Rules as:

A passenger vehicle, designed with special features for off-road operation, that has not more than nine seating positions (including the driver's seating position), and that:

(a) has four-wheel drive; and

(b) has at least four of the following characteristics when the vehicle is unladen on a level surface and the front wheels are parallel to the vehicle's longitudinal centre-line and the tyres are inflated to the vehicle manufacturer's recommended pressure:

i. an approach angle of not less than 28 degrees;

ii. a breakover angle of not less than 14 degrees;

iii. a departure angle of not less than 20 degrees;

iv. a running clearance of not less than 200mm;

v. a front axle clearance, rear axle clearance, or suspension clearance of not less than 175mm.


The definition consists of two separate parts, both of which must be satisfied for a vehicle to be considered to be class MC. These are:

  1. Whether the vehicle has been designed with special features for off-road operation, and
  2. Whether the criteria set out in (a) and (b) of the definition are met.

A vehicle can be considered to have been “designed with special features for off-road operation” if it has been originally equipped with two or more features including, but not limited to:

  • A transfer case that engages or disengages power to the front or rear wheels, controlled manually or electronically
  • At least one locking differential, controlled manually or electronically
  • Selectable high and low gear ratio ranges, controlled manually or electronically
  • An electronic hill descent control system
  • Underbody protection systems (such as skid plates), designed primarily for off-road use
  • An electronic system for optimising the vehicle’s capability on off-road surfaces (such as Land Rover’s “Terrain Response” system).

If a vehicle has a drivetrain and transmission system that enables all four wheels to be driven at once, regardless of how this is actuated or selected, it has four-wheel drive for the purposes of sub-part (a).

With regards to sub-part (b), measurements are to be taken as per the following:

Class MC vehicle

Aftermarket add-ons such as bullbars, towbars and body kits are to be excluded for the purposes of the above measurements.

Running clearance is the height from the ground of the lowest point on the vehicle, excluding any unsprung component. When determining the lowest point, aftermarket components, lightweight plastic covers and mudflaps are to be excluded, but original equipment exhaust systems are to be included.

Suspension clearance is the height from the ground of the lowest point of any suspension component.

The class of a vehicle make, model and submodel is defined by measurements and technical assessment of the vehicle in its original, unmodified form. For example, if a vehicle model is class MC in its original form, all vehicles of that make, model and submodel are to be treated as class MC, even if individual examples have been modified in a way that would mean they do not meet class MC criteria.

Determining vehicle class

Acceptable means of determining class include (but are not limited to) the following:

  1. Physical measurements of the vehicle, provided it is in an original and unmodified condition, along with an appraisal of its off-road features.
  2. Information provided or produced by the vehicle manufacturer specifying sufficient technical and dimensional data to enable an assessment to be made as to whether the definition is met.

Once the class of a vehicle make/model/submodel (or particular model code) has been conclusively determined using one of the above methods, the same classification may be applied to other examples of the same make/model/submodel without additional verification.

LANDATA vehicle classifications for vehicles entry certified prior to 1 March 2016 may not be reliable and should not be used to determine the class of models certified after that date.

Forward control vehicles

The definition of class MB vehicle is as follows:

A passenger vehicle (other than a class MC vehicle):

(a) that has not more than nine seating positions (including the drivers seating position); and

(b) in which the centre of the steering wheel is in the forward quarter of the vehicle's total length.

When assessing a forward-control vehicle against the class MB and MC definitions, the assessment against class MC should be carried out first. If the vehicle meets the class MC criteria, then it is a class MC vehicle regardless of whether it also meets criteria (b) in the above class MB definition.

Page updated 1 February 2017 (see details)