Quad bikes offer big off-road thrills and go-anywhere versatility for cheap dollars, but they're not the safest things in the world to ride on the road. SUVs are popular for their comfort and safety on the highway, but most are pretty limited in their off-road abilities, and they're so expensive you're unlikely to feel too carefree about throwing them down a ravine trail. The Vmoto SCARTT sits somewhere in between; a little larger and wider than a quad bike, but with two seats, seatbelts, a roll cage and genuine roadgoing ability to match its featherlight, fishtailing offroad giggle factor. The manufacturer's hoping to sell these 500cc practical fun machines for around the quarter of the price of a typical SUV. Oh, and wait til you see the super-sexy hybrid-electric sportster version.

Australian company Vmoto announced last week that its SCARTT 500cc AWD utility vehicle has passed homologation for road registration in Costa Rica - and, since Costa Rica has the most demanding homologation standards in the Americas, Vmoto is expecting road registration throughout the Americas to follow with few changes, if any, to the current design.

The SCARTT is a 500cc on/off roader built on an ATV/quad bike suspension platform but with the addition of a wider, 2-seat body with seats and seatbelts. It switches from 2WD to AWD where off-road conditions become demanding, and it aims to be a practical and economical way of getting around town, as well as a fun off-roader with serious all-terrain capabilities.

It takes up 150kg of cargo, and it's tough enough to be bashed around over tree trunks and up steep climbs. It's simple to drive, with a 3-speed auto gearbox and a selectable extra-low gear for high-torque off-road climbing.

Here's a video of the SCARTT being caned around a variety of different surfaces, complete with a singalong "Eye of the Tiger" backing:

The SCARTT is the most expensive and ambitious project yet for Vmoto, whose scooters and ATVs are now sold in more than 50 countries. The company's new manufacturing plant in Nanjing, China will commence operations in October, increasing its capability to deliver serious volumes - so the SCARTT could well be coming soon to a dealer in your country.

Plans are already underway to make an open-top road focused variant of the SCARTT - currently named the SCARTT All-Road City Concept and looking like a very cool little open-top doorless sportster about the size of a Smart ForTwo. There's also a hybrid-electric version in the works, using four in-wheel electric motors and a petrol-powered generator. Check the photo gallery to see these very sexy-looking additions to the SCARTT range.