Think you have Mercedes-Benz’s model names and conventions down pat? You’re going to need to learn them all over again, as the company is preparing a new wave of alphabet soup.
Presently, Benz’s lineup originally consisted of the familiar one-letter models, like the S-Class and the G-Class. But as the company’s portfolio grew, Mercedes-Benz felt compelled to introduce two-letter badges, like CL and GL. When that wasn’t enough to accommodate new model lines and variants, the marketing department started inventing three-letter designations, like CLC or CLS. Predictably, not all of these compilations make sense: some are downright misleading, and there is very little room for future evolution.
That's why Mercedes is now attempting to introduce some kind of new order to its acronym maze. From now on, we should see logic dictate the naming process: G is the new common marker for SUVs and crossovers, C is the new prefix for coupes and convertibles, SL remains the prefix for all sports cars. Still with us? Brace yourself, as it’s only the beginning.
According to the revised ABCs of Mercedes-Benz, the upcoming four-door coupe based on the new front-wheel drive MFA architecture that underpins the A- and B-Classes is no longer badged CLC. Why? Because that second new C is supposed to denote the model range, and this is no C-Class derivative. Now, according to the new scheme, CLA is the correct name.
In the same vein, the MFA-based GLC crossover due in 2014 will now be marketed as the GLA. What about the rumored CLA-based shooting brake? Like its bigger CLS-based brother, it won't gain a unique three-letter code.
But what of the rumored A-Class based coupe and cabriolet models? CLA comes to mind, but this name is already spoken for. Would it make more sense if the CLC-turned-CLA is renamed once again to become the CLB, since its MFA platform is also shared with the B-Class? If so, Benz has to move quickly, as the concept car that previews the CLC/CLA/CLB is supposed to make its official debut in a few weeks at the 2012 Beijing motor show.
What about other coupes? As far as the C-Class range goes, the next coupe and cabrio will receive the same CLC moniker formerly used by the deceased C-Class three-door hatch. A CLE would indicate a two-door version of the E-Class. Currently, that model is sold as an E-Class coupe and cabriolet, despite the fact the model blends a C-Class architecture with E-Class styling cues and powertrain.
In theory, a two-door based off S-Class mechanicals would be a CLS, but since that name conflicts with the existing CLS model – which won’t receive a new name – expect the big two-door model to gain a new name. Expect the CL to regain the traditional SLC moniker, while a forthcoming, scaled-down follow-up to the SLS AMG – once rumored to be called the SLC – could use the SLR badge.
The question still remains how exactly the SUV lineup will parse out, given that the M-, R-, GL-classes have no relation to any of the sedan classes. It’, the next GLK will most likely become the GLC, given that it rides on the C-Class platform. It's also a sure bet that the G-Class will retain its single-letter name as it will remain flagship of all Benz SUV models.