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Struggling to understand the alphabet soup of motoring terms and abbreviations? Here’s our handy guide:
MPV – Multi Purpose Vehicle, a tag which denotes egg-shaped, high-roofed moms’ taxis like the Chrysler Voyager. Sub-categories are medium MPVs like the Citroën Picasso and mini MPVs like the Honda Jazz. Popular in Japan too are micro MPVs, which take up about as much road space as a loaf of bread but are two stories high.
Monobox – Another term for an egg-shaped MPV.
SUV – Sports Utility Vehicle; in general denoting any vehicle that handles like a hippo but can climb a pavement without ripping off its sump. More specifically a station wagon with offroad ability thanks to a raised ride height and (usually) four-wheel drive. The term covers a vast segment of vehicles, from those that can barely battle their way through a rain puddle (which has coined the term soft roader), to serious bundu bashers that can handle Namibian sand dunes, the Okavango swamps and even downtown Johannesburg.
SAV – Sports Activity Vehicle. The same as an SUV, but a term coined by BMW’s executives for its X3 and X5 because the word utility seemed too, well, utilitarian.
Sedan – You don’t really need an explanation, do you? Take three boxes and stick them together: smaller ones at each end for the engine and boot, and a bigger middle one for passengers.
Station wagon – a sedan with a big bum. It has a bigger boot so there’s space for mother-in-law and the labradors. Also known as an Estate, with Audi using the sexier term Avant. The British also refer to two-door wagons as a Shooting Brake
Hatchback – A sedan with a short bum, favoured by people without labradors.
Cabriolet – a topless four-seater, also known as a convertible.
Roadster – a topless two-seater, also known as a hairdresser’s car.
Coupé – A name formerly reserved for sleek, sexy-looking cars with two doors. Now a term sometimes used for sleek, sexy-looking cars with four doors, such as the Mercedes CLS and Audi A7.
CC – Coupé Cabriolet, a self-explanatory tag which once applied strictly to two door cars with hard roofs that folded into the boot when you hankered for some wind noise and sunburn. The intricate roof-folding process makes for great visual theatre at a petrol station.
The term CC’s been more recently hijacked by VW for its Passat-based Comfort Coupé, which has no folding roof and (you guessed it) four doors insted of two.
Crossover – Any vehicle with an identity crisis, a perfect example being the BMW X6 which is a mish mash of an SUV and a coupé (a four-door one). -Star Motoring