Stupid Naming Conventions are in Full Force at NAIAS

BMW 4-Series

BMW 4-Series

Here’s the way you name a new car:

-If you’re manufacturer that is releasing a car under one of the lower-priced marques, give it a easily-remembered name that instantly conjures up an image of your car when people hear it. Challenger. Thunderbird. Roadrunner. Civic. Supra.

-If you’re a luxury brand, you throw a bunch of letters and numbers into a hat and pull the first 3-4 characters you see and slap them on a car. Let everyone else figure that shit out.

In the old days, German luxury cars began the trend of branding a car as a something-Class or Series. It would have a leading identifying marker and then a numerical classification that typically signified engine displacement. It became so popular, in fact, that every luxury brand since has copied it to the point that the numbers and letters are meaningless and are a mockery of the original intent.

Why are we bringing this up today? BMW and Infiniti have both unveiled new designations for cars that didn’t need them at all. First on the chopping block is BMW’s “new” 4-Series. The 4-Series is just a 3-series with two doors instead of four, because obviously when you take something away from a car, the marketing department has to add some sort of ridiculous crap (see Porsche GT2/3 RS, Ferrari F430 Scuderia, Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera). “3-Series Coupe,” which has been a totally recognizable designation in BMW’s best-selling line, was apparently not good enough after nearly 40 years of use, so something had to be fixed! Lucky for us, BMW has chosen to attach an even number to all coupes and an odd number to all sedans. The 4-Series will likely be sold with a variety of engine choices, along with the requisite number badges that have nothing to do with them whatsoever.

(Jan 2013) Detroit, MI North American International Auto Show

Infiniti Q50

Infiniti has strangely chosen to revise the naming scheme for their entire lineup and attach the alphabet’s least favorite letter, Q. The Q50 will replace the G37 (which actually has a 3.7L engine!) and of course, the “50” now means jack. The Q50 looks exactly like the current M37/56, although in this iteration, the grille (which is like an inflated Lexus “Spindle” grille) looks ungainly and makes the Q50 kind of fat in the front. The engine remains the same as the outgoing model, but a newer interior, along with that sweet Q, will probably make the Q50 a few grand more than the G37.

While BMW’s choice to spin off the 4-Series is merely dumb, Infiniti’s choice is perplexing. All cars will be called Q-something and SUVs will be a QX. While the naming will follow a linear pattern, with lower numbers signifying smaller/less expensive models, what happens when Infiniti creates something a little different? The Q50 will be the first car with the new naming system, with its coupe/convertible offshoot being labeled a Q60. What happens when the Q50 gets a high-performance version? Will it be a Q55, or a Q50 IPL? How will the public tell between the Q60 coupe and convertible, because surely those descriptors are now a quaint relic? Maybe a Q60 for the coupe and Q60C for the convertible? Perhaps after a few years the Q60C could be spun off into a new brand…


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About Cameron Rogers

Cameron Rogers is the founder and lead writer at Downshift Autos, the only automotive blog on the Internet*. Born in the back of an AMC Gremlin, Cameron vowed to never let this extraordinarily embarrassing detail define him, so help him God. He drives a GTI but absolutely will not shut up about it if somebody asks. He will not hesitate to let people know that no, they shouldn't get a Porsche 911 when a Morgan 3 Wheeler is so obviously the superior choice. He is obsessed with the seats of a Carrera GT and the steering wheel of a Fisker Karma. He once sat in the driver's seat of a Tesla Model S, his greatest accomplishment to date. He is just now realizing that writing an autobiography, however miniscule, in the third person is odd and unnerving. *As of this writing, Cameron has been informed that there are, in fact, many websites and blogs centered around cars and car culture. He regrets his grievous error.

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