What’s in a Name? (Part Two)

Concluding our exploration of the often treacherous practice of automotive nomenclature.

Image: (c) DTW

Given the numerous problems and pratfalls we uncovered in Part One, it might seem simpler to avoid the bear-traps altogether and stick to safe and neutral numbers. These can be used to indicate the range hierarchy, such as BMW’s ultra-logical 1 to 8-Series model designations.

This works fine as long as the manufacturer is happy to reuse the same number for successor models. Apparently, Renault was not: the venerable 5 was the only model to retain its number, and then only for a second generation. Numerical inflation began to cause confusion: the 9 and 11 replaced the 14, the 19 was a smaller car than the earlier 18 while the 20 and 30 were both replaced by the 25. In the end, Renault gave up on this and reverted to names.  Likewise, Fiat after a couple of generations of three-digit 12- and 13- model numbers in the 1960’s and 70’s.

Peugeot has recently run out of road with its three-digit with zero in the middle model designations, deciding that it will retain the -08 suffix for its advanced European models and -01 for its more conservative emerging market offerings. The company has only used -09 once, for the 309, which should have been sold as the Talbot Arizona. This was done to avoid the risk of harming sales of the existing 305 model if the unexpected addition to the range had instead been called 306, from which potential buyers might have inferred that it was a replacement model.

Audi’s A prefix to its model numbers has always struck me as superfluous. Why not just Audi 4 instead? Mazda went for a simple, numeric scheme like this for its non-crossover and sports cars, but still managed to confuse us: is it Mazda 6 or Mazda Mazda6? The manufacturer’s website suggests the former, but the badging and, for example, Autotrader, seems to think it’s the latter. In similar vein, don’t get me started on DS. Here, the badging is unequivocal: it is a DS DS3, which is appropriately incoherent for a brand still trying to find its raison d’être after a decade.

ds auto
photo (c) rev-cars-daily.com

Volvo attempted to emulate Audi when it introduced its current model numbering scheme in 1995, which uses S for saloons, V for estates and hatchbacks, C for coupés and XC for SUVs. The company intended to follow this with a single digit, but a threatened lawsuit from Audi saw the prototype S4 become S40 in production guise.

Mercedes Benz, at first glance, has an eminently logical and progressive naming structure, with its different models named using one or three alphabetic characters, followed by a three-digit number representing engine size. However, it has in the past frequently confused itself and others regarding the latter. The predecessor to the S-Class, under the company’s former naming scheme, was the 450SEL, a 4.5 litre large saloon(S) with fuel injection(E) and a long wheelbase(L). When the company introduced a 6.9 litre range-topper, instead of 690SEL, it was called 450SEL 6.9.

Before being rechristened E-Series in 1993, Mercedes-Benz’s mid-line saloon was known as the 200. This was problematic when the W201 small saloon was introduced in 1982. Even though the launch engine was 2.0 litres, the car was branded 190, or 190E with fuel injection. Later, the engine size, 1.8, 2.0 or 2.6 litres was appended to the 190E model name. Even today, the company routinely plays fast and loose in identifying engine sizes and the SL lives on in defiance of the new rules.

Alfa-Romeo has regularly alternated between names and numbers for its models, but the numbers have been a lucky-dip of seemingly random two and three-digit codes that appear to defy logical explanation. Having said that, I expect that a DTW Alfisto out there will quickly disabuse me of this notion.

Image (c) Matteo Licata

Even numbers aren’t always as neutral and anodyne as they might first appear. Renault had to rename the 17 coupé 177 in Italy after discovering that heptadecaphobia was still widely felt in that country. Needless to remark, there’s never been a Renault 13.

Toyota’s MR2 had an unfortunate scatological ring when articulated in French. Toyota should have learnt a lesson from this, but the Auris was named without taking into account how it might be pronounced in at least one English-speaking country. There was ample warning: Audi is widely pronounced Awe-dee in Ireland .

There is, of course, one number that transcends all others for its significance in the automotive firmament; 911. Nobody could possibly have imagined back in 1963 that a sports car launched by a small and slightly obscure German company would defy time and the dynamic shortcomings of its mechanical layout to assume such significance. But for Peugeot, it would have been called 901.

Image: dedeporsche

Naming commercial vehicles is, by comparison, a piece of cake, or at least it is if one accepts the manufacturers’ rather crude stereotyping of the typical buyer or user. He (and it is a ‘he’) is a football loving, lager drinking, tabloid reading working-class* man. The names are chosen to reflect his assumed self-image, interests and outlook, and the nature of his work.

Transit, Transporter, Ranger, Crafter, Pilot, Convoy, Boxer, Master, Dispatch, Relay, Partner and Expert all fit the bill perfectly, although I’m not sure quite what Citroën was thinking when it named two vans Jumper and Jumpy. The Berlingo is small enough to be used by a florist, so escapes this generalisation. GM Europe went out on a bit of a limb with Vivaro, which sounds to me more like a geriatric health supplement: “Let Vivaro put a spring in your step!” In any event, I think it’s safe to predict that we won’t be seeing a Ford Chihuahua panel van anytime soon.

2015 Opel Vivaro Crew Van: http://www.opel.nl

Sometimes, vehicle designations have been chosen to align with high political and social ideologies. In the former Soviet Union and Communist** China, private car ownership was a serious business, a privilege not a right, and their cars should not have frivolous or, even worse, aspirational names that might give owners ideas above their station. Hence, the cars were given obscure numbers that resembled factory production codes, such as the VAZ 2104/5, known to us as the Lada Riva (and, formerly, as the Fiat 124) and the Lubao CA6410, a reheated Chinese version of the Austin Maestro.

Even the mighty ZIL limousine, official state transport of Mikhail Gorbachev, Boris Yeltsin and, of course, Vladimir Putin (before he defected to Mercedes-Benz) was saddled with the prosaic model number 41047. Putin’s latest ride goes by the rather more stately name of Aurus Senat.

So, there you have it: a crawl through the phonetic and logical minefield that is motor vehicle nomenclature. I’m off for a spin in my Boxster*** which, contrary to appearances, is not a mis-spelling.

* I loathe that descriptor: don’t we all ‘work’ apart from a tiny minority that inherit great wealth or are in a royal lineage?

** As opposed to whatever China is now: Central Command Capitalism?

***Now that such things are again permitted.

Author: Daniel O'Callaghan

Shut-line obsessive...Hates rudeness, loves biscuits.

66 thoughts on “What’s in a Name? (Part Two)”

  1. Great article, Daniel. Regarding Alfa Romeo: I only know the 75 was named to celebrate Alfa’s 75 years of existence. It was called ‘Milano’ in the States. They’ve had a few changes in naming there cars over the years: starting with the 10 HP (the company was known as A.L.F.A. back then), then they produced the RL, RM and P1 before switching to names like 6C1500 (6 cylinders, 1500 cubic centimeters of discplacement). Later there were the 158 and 159.

    I would like to add Ferrari, whose cars were initially named after the displacement of an individual cylinder. Of course there were exceptions like the 328 for instance, 3.2 liters of displacement out of an 8 cylinder. The 355 was a 3.5 liter with 5 valves per cylinder. The possibilities of numbers seem endless.

    1. The old Merosi Alfas were designed and named before Nicola Romeo bought the company. The Alfetta 158 had 1.5 litres and a straight eight, the 159 was developed from it.
      The Eighties’ 33 was named after their successful racers, ‘Sei’ translates nicely to ‘be!’.
      The numbering scheme from the Nineties somehow mixes the size of the car on its middle digit and the model on the last. 145/146 are smaller than 156 (originally was planned to be called Nuova Giulia) which in turn is smaller then a 166. Maybe they could use Giulietta/Giulia/Giulione or so…

    2. Good morning Freerk and Dave, and thanks for the information. Italian is such a wonderful language that even the most prosaic namessuch as ‘Quattoporte’ and even ‘Uno’ sound delightful. Hence, it seems a lost opportunity to use numbers for model designations on Italian cars.

  2. Or how about Land Rover with the model named after the wheelbase in inches. Or the Oldsmobile 442 (4 barrel carb, 4 speed and 2 exhausts)

  3. 442 strongly suggests to me a steam locomotive!
    What too of Audi’s latest approach to nomenclature, where the vehicle’s relative position in the model range of power options is indicated by a number such as 30, or 40. No relation to actual power output, and as far as I know, no relation between ranges, either, so that an A6 40 could be less powerful than an A4 30….

    1. Good morning Michael. You’re right, Audi’s current numbers are completely incoherent. Incidentally, am I right in thinking that steam locomotives were named according to their arrangement of wheels and axles?

    2. I don’t know if it’s intentional from Audi side, but every time I see a Q3 with this ’40’ label, I tend to think: Wow, four litres! The scheme is totally meaningless, but so are Mercedes and BMWs today, as the number hardly ever reflects the displacement any more. In this respect, Audi’s new convention even seems more ‘right’ and honest to me.

  4. Yes, Daniel, there are names for many of the common wheel arrangements. A 4-4-2 is an ‘Atlantic’, a 4-6-2 a Pacific, etc. They are, of course, just category names, not specific to any single class of engine.

  5. Is there anyone beside me who likes the old Volvo numbering scheme with series, cylinders and doors forming a three-digit number? I think it’s quite a nice way to distinguish bodystyles. Of course, just starting with series 1, then going to 2 and then adding a 3 below the 2 is rather bonkers. They even repeated that with squeezing the smaller 8 between the 7 and 9 (which I still can’t distinguish properly…). But in principle, it’s a nice thing.

    Regarding Citroën and Audi repeating the C and A in front of the number: In the case of Audi it has become more meaningful, as there are now also other letters, like Q. And it’s a bit nicer (shorter) to say ‘C6’ instead of ‘Citroën 6’, while you can’t say “I’m driving a 6”. By the way, Renault used the R (Renault R6) officially for some time, but then dropped it, it seems. Is that correct?

    1. A long and theological war has raged in the US over alphanumeric names. In the end, it works for some firms and not for others. Broadly, posh marques can get away with it and less posh marques can´t.

    2. Ah yes, but before the 122s which was a four door and also sold for a while as the Amazon or as the two door 123GT, there was the second generation of the PV444 known as the 544 – both two door cars, one of which I owned. Naming sensibility only hit with the 144, a car sadly quite unlike its forebears, being a rather dull plodder.

    3. VW had a novel idea when they presented their Iroc concept car which previewed the new Scirocco and which used the four middle letters of Scirocco to form its name (and sounded like ‘I rock’ which I think was intentional). Also -up- were the middle letters of Lupo but I don’t know if it was intentional on VW’s part.

  6. Tesla having S, X, Y and 3 is inconsistent but no barrier to success, it seems. NewMG does itself with no favours with its single-number or XX naming. Infiniti likewise, though they settled on Qxx or QXxx before taking their leave.

    For commercials, it seems odd that Peugeot changed (unnecessarily?) the Expert for the Traveller, a name which sometimes carries negative associations in the UK.

    No messing with Polestar, though – they are just numbering them in the order of release. And it’s hard to beat the Morgan Three Wheeler for clarity!

    1. The model 3 was supposed to be the E, but some other pesky car manufacturer already had one of those.
      it still spells out S3EXY in leetspeak, so at least Musk is still happy with it.

    2. typo: was of course trying to write S3XY. not very 1337 of me.

    3. The Partner Tepee has become the Rifter. Whoever came up with that one was unfamiliar with Scottish, Northern English, and Northern Irish dialect, where ‘rift’ means to belch, often associated with excessive drinking “He wis (or ‘wor’) riftin’ fou”.

      The Traveller name may now have “negative associations”, but not so long ago Morris sold loads of them in Minor, Oxford, and Mini varieties.

      Perhaps the Germans here can explain the attraction of the word “Tramp”?

      Trabant had theirs, Fulda use it for their 4×4 tyre range, and there was this limited-run modified Kadett:

      The word has rather less alluring connotations in the Anglophone world, as do its synonyms – there would never be a Hillman Hobo or a Buick Bum.

    4. The verb ‘trampen’ (‘to tramp’) is used in German for hitchhiking. It’s a so-called false friend, a word that sounds English, but isn’t used in the same sense in the English language.
      So, ‘tramp’ seems to have a connotation of freedom and maybe even something outlawish (in a positive sense).

  7. The simplest name of using is probably used by Polestar. Start with the Polestar 1 then the Polestar 2. Their latest concept is called Precept, however. Gabriel Voisin used a similar naming system, but added the letter C to it, starting with the C1. The C stands for Charles (his brother) or chassis, I’ve seen both, but not sure which of the two is correct.

  8. It is my impression that alphanumeric designations are chosen when a company wishes to emphasize the brand name instead of that of the model. Rather than spitting out a jumble of letters and numerals largely meaningless to anyone other than car guys (or girls), one would say “I drive a BMW.”

    An example of how an individual model name can overshadow the marque is the Escalade; no one who has one says “My car is a Cadillac.”

    1. And it’s precisely why “I drive a Ford Mondeo Vignale.” doesn’t work. Listeners have lost interest by the fifth syllable, so don’t hear the rest.

      Amusingly, my Google keyboard automatically corrects ‘Vignale’ to ‘Big name’.

  9. My favourite example of automotive numerical inflation:

    If you don’t immediately recognise the particular car, look closely at the badge on the boot lid.

    1. We discussed this some while back. Car models stop being credible at four figures: Pontiac 6000 and Saab 9000 and that´s it, I think.

    2. Precisely. Which is why the 1000 SEL is the finest Mercedes of them all.

    3. Lilac 5893 NK is a special edition to commemorate the build of the 1,000,000th Minor.

    4. Ah, yes, the 1000SEL. Lovely!

      Can anyone think of any car ever that has been enhanced by gold-plated badges?

    5. Having mentioned the Pontiac 6000, most of them came in LE and SE trim levels, or “Goolie” and “Gooose”!

  10. “…the 9 and 11 replaced the 14, the 19 was a smaller car than the earlier 18…”

    Actually the 19 replaced the 9/11 duo. The successor to the 18 was the 21.

    1. Hi Laurent, I think you misunderstood the point I was making, which was that there was no consistency with regard either to time (9/11 replacing 14) or size (19 smaller than 18).

    2. I see what you mean now. Still, at least the range was always coherent (I think – haven’t checked) in terms of car size and denominator.

    3. Apart from the 5 being smaller than the 4, of course!

    4. The 5 was smaller than the 4, but the latter being a more basic (and cheaper? I don’t know) model, the number hierarchy still seems right for me.

  11. An interesting set of articles, thank you Daniel. I have always been a bit puzzled why Porsche got into trouble with Peugeot for using “901” and Peugeot (apparently with succes) claiming they had the rights to model names with a zero in the middle. Why then did BMW not get into similar trouble with the French firm? They had the 501, 502, 503 and 507. And later on, Ferrari also used a zero in the middle with the 208 and 308.

    1. Thank you Bruno, glad you enjoyed them. That’s a good question about BMW and Ferrari, to which I’ve no answer, so I’ll pass it over to the DTW commentariat.

    2. I just think people were more confused in those days regarding the rights and wrongs about intellectual property. Porsche may have received a stern letter from Peugeot regarding the naming convention and decided to act on Peugeot’s behalf without their being a legal cause for action just because they didn’t want to risk having the case dragged to court. Remember Fiat named their V8 sports car the “8V” because they mistakingly thought Ford had the “V8” designation globally trademarked. “V8” is such a generic name anyway there wouldn’t be any legal grounds for Ford even if they had the name trademarked.

    3. Audi tried to sue Ferrari when they used the designation ‘quattrovalvole’. But even German courts found their argumentation a bit ridiculous that Ferrari tried to steal some of the glamour associated with Audi quattro and so the case came to nothing.
      Maybe Peugeot thought similar about BMW’s and Ferrari’s middle zero but Porsche was something of a dubious unknown quantity at the time the 911 appeared.

  12. Robertas Parazitas asked “Perhaps the Germans here can explain the attraction of the word “Tramp”?

    Just my 2 cent.
    The word “Tramp” was used as a verb / activity and was named “trampen” in german, it meant hitchhiking.

    The Germans have always been good to use in pseudo-narrow terms. Or lets say it in this way, misusing english words because everything that sounds english, sounds good somehow. Not everyone who used new words from the English language because they sound cool, really knew their meaning.
    We Germans are very good at it. One only has to think of the term “handy”, which in German means a cell phone.
    Most of the Germans still think “Handy” is an international term for a cell phone.
    We also refer to the screening of a football game on a public square by means of a projector as “public viewing”.
    I stopped being ashamed of it, it’s just too much.
    The inability to use one’s own language correctly is topped in Germany at any time by the use of terms in foreign languages whose meaning is completely unknown. I could now go into more detail on the state of mind of the Germans, but I better not do that. Let’s make a long story short: Too much wealth, too little idea, no style.

    Back to hitchhiking, “trampen” as the Germans said, had a great fascination in the 60s and 70s. Hitchhiking meant the freedom to go anywhere and get to know new interesting people.

    Since the Germans had no idea, such terms of freedom could be sold to them cheaply. And advertising agencies can do well in cheap.
    And there you have “Tramp”.

    None of this is an excuse, just an explanation.

    1. Fred, thanks for the explanation – I’m put in mind of “Das Wandern ist des Müllers Lust”.

      I’m sure der Müller was a clean living fellow, and never aspired to the life of an itinerant mendicant with a relaxed attitude to personal hygiene.

      A couple of years ago in Genf I had an enjoyable conversation with Herr Butt about the cod-English used in marketing. In most German shopping streets the monolingual Britisher could forget they weren’t in their home country, particularly as International Advertising Doggerel English has taken over the Anglophone world too, along with its noun-hungry highbrow companion ‘International Arts English’.

      Christopher made the interesting point that there was a generational divide – goods and services aimed at older people were promoted in uncorrupted German.

      I also mentioned the casual use of English profanities. Young Germans really don’t understand the power which certain Anglo-Saxon words carry:

      The general rule of swearing in polite conversation is that the profanity may be used as an explanation mark, but never as a comma.

    2. There’s plenty of pseudo-English used in German marketing – brands ‘powered by’ a certain company, ‘wellness’ as both the advertised effect and ‘German’ term for a spa, to name but a few.
      There also is the use of ‘Denglisch’ in everyday life; the hilariously forced and mostly unnecessary choice of English words and phrases, instead of perfectly serviceable German alternatives. Just the other day, I unintentionally eavesdropped on a conversation between a lady and a gentleman, both older than 35, but dressed as though they were in their early twenties. (This is only truly relevant to German speakers, by the way). She explained that she started wondering whether she’s just following the herd by now going for a vegan lifestyle, just as she’d been into food supplements a decade ago, or whether she’s truly coming to new conclusions by asking: ‘Haben war da denn nur den Zeitgeist gechased?’

  13. I wasn’t convinced that this subject could be entertaining – I was proved so wrong!

    There are some clever bits of number / word play. Dave has already mentioned the Als ‘Sei’ which translates nicely to ‘be!’ Renault chose 9 as it also means ‘new’ in French. I wonder what the Germans made of the Riley Elf.

    The only bit of pure number-play I can think of is the Fiat Sedici (4×4) – but why wasn’t the front wheel drive version an ‘Otto’?

    The US manufacturers came up with some evocative numbers which meant little or nothing; Ford Five Hundred (originally a trim level for various cars, before becoming a model in its own right) and the Oldsmobile 88 (because it had to fit in between the 76 and 98, and replace the 78). It soon evolved into the legendary Rocket 88 series (not to be confused with Column 88, or its more ‘woke’ offshoot Charter 88).

    1. I mentioned a lot of US model names in the comments on the first article. The Rocket 88 was one of them. Imagine coming from a rather weary looking England in 1959 as an eleven year old to Canada and seeing a 1959 Oldsmobile Rocket 88! My father’s new boss, himself an ex-Scot, complained that the tires lasted 4,000 miles or 90 days whichever came first.

  14. Aw, I thought we were going to get my favourite anecdote of the only time a *numeric* name caused unintentional offence. The Alfa 164 was a breakthrough in many ways (galvanised frame, fully automatic manufacture) but wasn’t selling in Hong Kong, Taiwan or Malaysia. As Rutger van der Maar explains it, “the pronunciation of 1-6-4 in Chinese (一六四, yī liù sì) sounds to similar to 一路死 (yī lù sǐ), which could be translated as ‘all the way to death’ or ‘the whole journey to death'”. Accordingly it was renamed the 168 (一六八, yī liù bā) resembling 一路發, ‘on the way to prosperity’ in these markets.
    Having owned six Alfas I’d say it’s an even-money bet as to which is more apt.

    1. Ah, good one. I may be able to top it. From our Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, a news item quoted verbatim from Oct 2009:

      “GM will adopt the controversial name LaCrosse for its redesigned Buick this year, potentially saving millions in ad costs but risking fall-out in Quebec.

      That’s because LaCrosse is slang in Quebec for pleasuring yourself.

      When GM first debuted the $40,000 sedan in North America in 2005, the company changed the name to the Buick Allure for the Canadian market after someone pointed out the name’s prurient connotation in French.

      But with a redesigned model debuting this year, the ailing auto giant has adopted the LaCrosse name for Canada too.

      GM hopes Quebec customers will hear the name and think of Canada’s national summer sport and not the other thing.”

  15. Daniel, as the proud owner of a 2019 Mazda6 GS-L, I can assure you that officially there is no space between Mazda and 6. Or Mazda and 3. All the literature is consistent and has been for six or more years now; I have brochures to hand. I suppose the car is really named Mazda Mazda6, but the Western mind cannot readily absorb such Japanese frivolity, and adds the space automatically to the model name. Bongo! The North America-wide insurance ID chit we all have to carry here calls it Mazda Mazda6 GS-L 2.5T. I suppose they have to get it right in the event of a write-off.

    Not wishing to spend money on frippery but presumably on the interior appointments, Mazda identifies the car itself beyond badges only below the boot lid, and no matter which model of which there are five trim levels including both naturally-aspirated and turbo, merely says Mazda6 on the left of the car and SKYACTIV on the right. It also has the coveted J VIN, meaning this is no Mexican or overseas substitute, but a genuine Hiroshima product. And as I’ve mentioned before, there were no assembly flaws whatsoever that I could find, a first for me in 5o years of new car purchases.

  16. A little afterthought about the naming of DS. To my understanding, when they were still branded as Citroëns, it was Citroën DS5 (example) without a space. Later DS became the brand and the car was just called DS 5 (with a space, ‘5’ being the actual model name). If I look at their website now, it’s ‘DS 7 Crossback’ or ‘DS 9’. I don’t think it has ever been something like in the case of Mazda, i.e. ‘DS DS5’.

    1. Hi Simon. You’re right about the intention, I’m sure, and the DS website displays DS7 rather than DS DS7. The cars, however, are still badged like this:

      Maybe DS needs to offer a debadge option…

    2. This badging offers different ways of interpretation:
      If I read the logo in the middle as brand name and the badge on the right as the model designation, I get ‘DS DS 7’ (with a space before the number!). If I interpret the thing in the middle just as a logo, and the badge as brand + model name, then the car is called ‘DS 7’. Hmmmm…

      By the way, I wouldn’t need the debadge option, but is there a de-exhaust option?

    3. Hi Daniel, Simon,

      Great article Daniel.

      Perhaps the badging at the back was less confusing when DS was part of Citroën and they added the number next to the DS badge instead of repeating ‘DS’ twice.

    4. I was thinking of the DR car company. Just like DS they just have 2 letters as a name and they just added a lone ‘3’ at the bottom right rather than repeat DR again as DS does with its own name.

      I had a look at DR’s website and their naming scheme is rather odd: they have the DR3; DR4; DR EVO; DR6 and an upcoming model called F35. And their logo’s design is dreadful I think.


    5. Sorry, it’s not when DS was part of Citroën that this badging was used but rather on the old DS3, DS4 and DS5 but for the last 2 models they clearly dropped it.

    6. ……And DR also have a model called DR 5.0 to add to the confusing naming scheme.

    7. I liked Renault’s names around the LeQuement era: Laguna; Kangoo, Twingo, Modus, Scenic. I don’t know, there was a bit of poetry in them if I can explain it that way. Some of the concept cars of the same era also sounded evocative to me: Egeus, Altica, Nepta, Talisman, Reina Stella, Racoon,….

      In the oddities section we find the Renault Captur renamed Kaptur for Russia, although visually identical to ours it’s based on a different platform and has a slightly different size.. No matter if it’s with a ‘C’ or a ‘K’ Renault chose the ‘K’ sound for its SUV names (Kwid, Captur, Kadjar, Koleos° while VW has chosen the ‘T’ sound (except for the upcoming Nivus strangely)

      Opel latest name sounds awful, but maybe that’s just for a French speaker: I’am not fond of Grandland at all. I was never fond of the Kadett moniker either. Calibra and Vectra were in my good books however.

    8. Otherwise Xsara and Xantia were good too in my opinion, they managed to captured Citroen’s left-field approach, especially the successive ‘X’ and ‘S’ letters in the Xsara name which was a most unusual combination. I think you weren’t sure how to pronounce it in the begining. I remember the first time I saw in England the English advert for that car and I really liked the way it was pronounced in English. In French it’s pronounced more like ‘Gzara’ while in English it’s more like ‘Zara’.

      Although the AMI 6 (and 8) were strange cars I think it’s a good idea for Citroën to have reprised the name for their lcity car and called it ‘Ami’, since it means ‘Friend’ it suits well the product I think. Also I think they’re playing with the ‘Miami’ name as the different versions have names like ‘My Ami Blue’, ‘My Ami Red’, etc….. I like the ‘Ami Ami’ name for what looks like the basic version.

    9. Good morning NRJ. Wow, you’ve been busy today! There’s enough good stuff in your posts for a ‘Part Three’ addition to the naming piece.

      I’d never heard of DR (I suppose that should be lower-case ‘dr’) Automobiles before. Apparently, it’s an Italian company that adapts Chinese (Chery) SUVs to European tastes. How on earth does that make for a viable business model, given the profusion of models available from mainstream manufacturers? How desperate would have to be for something different butm in all probability, inferior?

  17. “BMW’s ultra-logical 1 to 8-Series model designations.”
    Well, what about number 2?
    There’s something strange going on there, isn’t it?

    1. Hi Constantinos, I take it you’re referring to the fact that BMW has used the number for both coupés/convertibles and MPVs? True but, roughly speaking, the MPVs are both larger than the 1 and smaller than the 3 Series.

      Maybe, to be ultra-logical, the MPVs should have been branded something like V2 (Active Tourer) and V3 (Gran Tourer), V for Vario or Vielseitig.

      On the other hand, the last time Germany exported a V2 to the UK, it wasn’t a welcome arrival on these shores…

  18. Hahaha, a car called V2 from a german car company. Chapeau, this was a good one.

    But I wouldn’t bet too much money that this wouldn’t even happen.
    Meanwhile, as I noted above regarding the use of English words in everyday language, we have to deal with people who find nothing to put up a sales sign saying “Coffee To Go – also for take away” (unfortunately no joke).
    The people (at least what I can see here) are so free of knowledge and mind, there is still a lot to be expected.

    1. Don’t be too hard on your compatriots, Fred. At least they’re making an effort to embrace a second language, unlike the majority of English speakers. Me? I can speak seven languages…to the extent that I can order a beer and say “please” and “thank you”, but little more, to my shame.

    2. Mitsubishi once sold a particularly hot version of the Lancer Evo rally homologation special under the name ‘Mitsubishi Zero’ in Japan and their importers everywhere else had a lot to do to convince them that the car needed a different name in other markets.

    3. Speaking of Lancers: file under “Neglected Gems”. I was looking at one today and it had all the features of a right-sized sporting saloon, right down to the rear centre armrest. And more up to date, the Toledo is much the same package, with a rear centre arm-rest. Do Subaru still make a four door Impreza?

    4. The fascinating thing was that in rally sports the Lancer was run under Group N rules where next to no modifications are allowed whereas the Impreza (and everything else) was a Group A where there is some freedom for modification.

  19. Hallo Daniel and thanks for this interesting series of articles. Regarding your reply to my comment, I think the assigning of number 2 to different types of vehicles shows something about BMW.
    It shows a lack of staying true to heritage, something the german companies always were famous for.
    The series 2 was about these small sport cars of the ’70s, with the famous 2002tii still holding a special place in the hearts and minds of BMW fans.
    Diluting this memory with an irrelevant MPV was for sure a mistake.
    Especially when they tried to do right with the reintroduced 2 series coupe.
    But then, they made it again! A 4 door sedan based on the 1 series and named grand coupe…
    Well I see what they are trying to do, offering coupes and 4door coupes for all their even numbers series, but for me it is not really working.
    It is like a Hybris, like when Logic and Fun collide.

    1. I agree, Constantinos. The numbering system is just about the only thing that is (mainly) rational and consistent about present-day BMW.

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