• Apr 16, 2006



Quick:
Is an RX a Lexus, or a Mercedes-Benz? It's a Lexus. What about an XG?* And is the "M" an Acura, BMW, Lincoln, or Nissan? Well, that depends on whom you ask (as explained here, Acura squares off with Lincoln, and here, BMW suing Nissan).

Kim Seung-hyun of the JoongAng Daily tries to clear which alphanumeric name belongs to which brand and how each company arrived at their respective nomenclature schemes. The Hyundai Grandeur L330, for example, refers to its engine capacity of 3300 cubic centimeters. Peugeot use a three-digit naming scheme where the first number indicates the vehicle's make like a compact, mid-sized sedan, etc., while the third number tells what generation it is. Details on the naming scheme for BMW, Renault, and others can be found at the link. Bonus points to anyone that can recall what Merkur's XR4Ti nameplate stands for.

For everyone else who is still confused, be sure to check out our own Chris Paukert's Alphanumeric Soup rant over at TheTruthAboutCars.com for a moment of clarity.

*The XG's, as in XG 30,  XG 300, and XG 350, used to be Hyundai's flagship. The Azera has replaced it. 

[Sources: JoongAng Daily, TheTruthAboutCars.com]



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 22 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      I'd like for someone to explain why Mercedes-Benz has blundered with its alphanumeric nameplates recently.

      What exactly do R and B class stand for?

      Also, the C230 Kompressor has seen so much changes in its engine size without being properly acknowledged. It first started as a 2.3L, understandable, but was changed to a 1.8L, but the name stayed as C230. Then it was lated change to a 2.5L 6 cylinder, and it stayed 230 still. sigh. If a car has a 1.8cc engine, then they should not be trying to sell it as a C230, and selling it as a C180, but i guess they can grab more for their money with a bigger number.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Good point with giving them real names. Audi and Mercedes should name their models after famous German generals, or personalities. The Germans love doing that with their ships. This would also be inline with their wartime contributions. Call it the Nazi Commemerative Line. A4=Audi Goebbels A6=Audi Borman A8=Audi Goering (the fattest) TT (pronounced 'Titty') could be Adolf Hitler. R8 could be Gestapo chief Himmler. Oh that sounds Cool. "I love the R8 Himmler"
      • 8 Years Ago
      Valkyrie? Conquistador? Sorry, Mike, I think Cadillac is better off with the alphabetic names. :D

      But I agree that many car companies bungle alphanumeric names. Lincoln is the most recent example. "MKX"? "MKS"? "MKZ"? Not only do those names sound similair to other cars, they don't roll off the tongue very well...at all. Why not just name the "X-over" the "Mark X," the sedan the "Mark S," and the Zephyr the "Mark Z"? Everybody knows that's what the "MK" stands for anyway. And they wouldn't have to worry about renaming the Mark LT (although I'm not sure if they are going to rename that, anyway, which is where it gets REALLY confusing. "MKLT"?)

      Audi's is great - possibly the simplest of them all. The "TTS" and "TTRS" sound a bit awkward, but I'm not sure what else I'd name them. The Allroad doesn't have an alphanumeric designation, but that's better than being named "X-whatever," like everybody else names their crossovers.

      I only take issue with BMW because they were going to split the 3-Series into the a 3-Series (sedans) and a 4-Series (coupes and convertibles), but they decided the 3-Series name was too valuable. Fair enough, but they already split the 5-Series into a 5-Series and a 6-Series in the same way! They even renamed the Z3 to match the 4-Series! So we have a 1-, 3-, 5-, 6-, and 7-Series, but no 2-Series or 4-Series (except the Z4). Ack.

      I hate Pontiac's naming scheme most of all. Sure, it's simple (like Audi's), but Pontiac really shouldn't have a BMW/Audi-style numbering scheme, since it isn't really competitive with BMW or Audi. Bob Lutz has gone on record saying he has BMW as a goal for Pontiac, but Pontiac just isn't in BMW's market (one could argue they should have their sights on Mazda instead). The Pontiac G6 is not competitive with the Audi A6 or BMW 5-Series, so why name it like it is?

      But the dishonor for worst alphanumeric name goes to Subaru for the B9 Tribeca. Styling issues aside, who would want to call their SUV "benign"?
      • 8 Years Ago
      I agree that the alphanumeric names are trite, confusing and worst of all profoundly lacking in creativity. Hey Car Execs, give the cars strong evocative names that a marketing campaign can get behind and that people will remember easily. How about this, for example:

      Cadillac CTS becomes Cadillac Valkyrie

      Cadillac STS becomes Cadillac Conquistador

      Cadillac DTS becomes Cadillac Kaiser

      Cadillac SLR becomes Cadillac Rajah

      Cadillac Escalade stays Escalade because people know and recognize it, since it's not called an EDS or whatever.

      Isn't this common sense?
      • 8 Years Ago
      Heard someone thought "XR4Ti" was a word to be pronounced, rhyming with Maserati.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Audi's had it right for about a decade now...make them all "A" with a one-digit number indicating its class. Leave the other stuff to the trim level.

      'course, they screwed it all up by introducing the Q7. Dummies.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I believe that alphanumeric only work if you've got a handful of models and you use the same ones for at least a decade. In other words, I'm not sure they work for anyone anymore. BMW at most. Even Mercedes, where these things started, only has success with a few. Everyone knows, C, E, S, and SL. Beyond that recognition gets iffy.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I think the thesis that car makers are switching to alphanumerics to increase their brand recognition is probably accurate, but the strategy is fundamentally flawed. If it's a good car, people are going to remember who made it, sheesh. Come on. Do you really think that consumers would forget that Lexus makes the Lexus LS if it was called the Lexus Plutobarge instead? I don't mean to offend anyone but it's just nonsense that consumers can't remember the brand if the model has an actual name. No one forgets that Chevy makes the Impala, or Ford the Mustang.


      • 8 Years Ago
      can't wait till some marketing company persuades autoexecs that names which people have emotional ties to are what consumers want...names like Mustang, Legend, or Continental. Everything that we suggest about Alphanumeric names no longer apply...by the way, make our check out to....
      • 8 Years Ago
      I agree, the main reason is so consumers say they drive an Acura instead of an Integra, etc. Another reason they do it is for translation. Some words are offensive, silly, or meaningless in other regions of the world. There are examples that I can't bring to mind right now. Point is, it's easier just to call it an RX everywhere.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Uh, Mal Fuller, check out the Chevy/Daewoo S3X
      • 8 Years Ago
      I fully agree w/ Chris' rantings. A name for a car needs to convey its characteristics, and bear strong emotions. While I can forgive corps like MB and BMW who have always had these schemes, and are simple (3-5-7, etc.) Of course, like Chris said, even these are beginning to get muddied, and I'm sure the average customer gets lost. Also, Lexus' is obvios and easy to follow: two letters relating to the car and 3 numbers related to displacement:(i.e. LS430 is L-denoting place in line up, S for Sedan, and 430 for 4.3L engine. When they redesigned the RX300, it had a 3L engine, thus when they gave it a 3.3, the name change to RX330.

      Now, as for Cadillac, that was just, well, stupid.
      I hear that the sedans-CTS, STS, DTS are short for Catera Touring Sedan, Seville and Deville Touring Sedans, but I don't know about the SRX or XLR.

      Just give it a real name already!
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