Mercedes-Benz plans to rename several models so all its cars fit into four major car lines: A-class, C-class, E-class, and S-class. The company calls this program its "new conflict-free nomenclature." The first models to arrive with new names will be the facelifted M- and GL-Class SUVs, due later this year as the GLE and GLS, respectively. (The current M and GL are pictured.)
This is actually the second attempt to get Mercedes-Benz's occasionally confusing acronyms in order. The first effort dates back to 2011 when the increasingly blurred displacement-related model designation structure was about to be superseded by a power-related hierarchy. In the proposed new framework, the ML350 CDI powered by a 3.0-liter diesel V-6 good for 540Nm (398 lb-ft) would have for instance become the ML540 or possibly the ML 5.4. It sounds logical enough, but such a strategy was flatly refused as too arcane by officials in key export markets like North America and China.
Almost three years later, Mercedes is about to make another effort to clarify how various different body styles relate to its various model lines. The C-Class family, for instance, will gain the SLC and the GLC. The former is the new name for the facelifted SLK-Class roadster. The successor to today's GLK-Class crossover will go on sale as the GLC. What about the GLC coupe scheduled to follow suit? It will be called GLC coupe in the same way the two-door S-Class is simply the S-Class coupe, and not the CL-Class.
"Like the convertibles, coupes no longer warrant a bespoke model designation," explains our friend from Mercedes-Benz planning. "After all, unambiguous shapes like these are self-explanatory."
In the E-Class lineup, the next-generation M-class will shed its two-letter ML code in favor of the somewhat grander GLE designation -- it will be joined the GLE coupe, which was previously tipped to wear an MLC badge (a concept version is pictured below). And at the top of the Mercedes-Benz ladder, the S-Class sedan/coupe and the SL-Class convertible will be joined by the GLS crossover, replacing today's GL-Class.
Several models will keep their existing names: the G-Class, CLS-Class, CLA-Class, and the upcoming AMG GT supercar do not get renamed.
There are no imminent changes planned for the A-class family. The next GLA-Class crossover will keep its GLA badge, and the proposed A-class coupe is to receive a simple "coupe" suffix. The funky long-wheelbase crossover which looks like a baby G-Wagen will now likely be named GLG instead of GLB, and the still-to-be-confirmed four-door sedan will either be marketed as CSA or CSE, sources claim. If a small front- or all-wheel-drive roadster based on this platform gets the nod, it is bound to adopt the SLA moniker. The planned SLA/CLA shooting brakes will just be called that.
Automobile Magazine first hinted at the possibility of this Mercedes-Benz renaming scheme in April 2012.