Mercedes’ new model names explained

Published: 11 November 2014 Updated: 26 January 2015

Mercedes names its cars differently for 2015

Mercedes has been busy with deed poll forms over the past few months. It’s putting in place a new naming system for its entire model range, meaning that from the start of 2015 a few familiar faces from its line-up are going to go by different names.

Here’s our complete guide to how Mercedes-Benz names its cars from now on. Bear with us – although it’s intended to make Merc’s ever-growing model line-up easier to understand, it might take a bit of getting used to at first.

Mercedes model names 2015

The Mercedes model name system: how it works

The new naming structure applies to both model series and engine types.

The model name (or the ‘class’ bit) is always an acronym, of between one and three letters in upper case, and Mercedes’ five core models will remain: A, B, C, E and S.

The engine type comes next, labelled on the boot by one lower-case letter.

c is compressed natural gas
d is diesel (so no more BlueTEC or CDI labels)
e is electric (replacing labels like ‘Plug-in Hybrid’ and Electric Drive)
f is fuel cell (replacing F-Cell)
h is for hybrid (previously badged as HYBRID or BlueTEC HYBRID)

It’s certainly a lot shorter, then. Should save some money in boot lid badge production overheads.

Like before, if you drive a petrol, there’s no extra badge suffix and four-wheel-drive models are still called 4MATIC. Mercedes hints that there will be more 4MATIC models to come in the near future, in response to ‘steadily growing demand.’

Mercedes engine names 2015

Here’s where it gets complicated

Mercedes SUVs are a bit different – from now on, they all start with the letters ‘GL’, a nod to the famous G-Class. After that comes the model line, so the GLA is the GL A-Class.

Here’s the full run-down:

GLA = GL A-Class
GLC = GL C-Class; previously GLK
GLE = GL E-Class; previously M-Class or ML
GLE Coupé = GL E-Class Coupé
GLS = GL S-Class; previously GL
G unchanged

Four-door coupes
It’s a similar story here. The first two letters are CL, followed by the core model. So CLA and CLS, as before.

From 2016 on all Roadsters start with SL. Confusingly for some, the SLK will be called the SLC from now on.

AMG stuff
AMG-Mercedes is considered a separate sub-brand, so it gets its own nomenclature for upcoming models such as the GT and C63.

Why has Mercedes done this?

The new naming structure is aimed at making the company’s model line-up simpler to understand. With more new models jumping off Mercedes’ drawing boards than ever, all with multiple body styles and drive systems, it’s a timely point to have a bit of a reorganising session.

By 2020 Mercedes plans to have 30 models in its portfolio worldwide, 11 of them all-new model lines rather than evolutions of previous models. 2015 marks an overhaul of more or less its entire SUV range and 10 new plug-in hybrids across various model lines are scheduled for launch by 2017 alone.

Clear as mud? Let us know your feedback in the comments below.

By James Taylor

Former features editor for CAR, occasional racer