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Mercedes rethinks its names: new Merc badges explained

Published: 17 April 2012

At Mercedes, the naming of new models is often trickier than the technology these vehicles convey.

Under the current badging hierarchy, most mainstream models use familiar one-letter names like S-class or G-Wagen. So far, so logical. But as proliferation spread, the Swabians felt compelled to introduce two-letter badges, like CL and GL.

When even that was not enough to distinguish all the new models coming out of Stuttgart, marketing 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 scope for future evolution in this complicated Swabian alphabet soup.

That’s why Mercedes is now attempting to introduce some kind of new order to its acronym maze.

Mercedes badging structure: what Merc names we can expect in future

From now, we should see logic dictate the naming process of future Mercedes models:

• G is the new suffix for SUVs and crossovers
• C is the new common marker for coupes and convertibles
• SL remains the prefix for all sports cars

But as you might have guessed, this is only the beginning.

According to CAR’s sources, the revised ABC means the upcoming four-door coupe spun off the A-class architecture is no longer badged CLC. Why? Because the second C from now on denotes the model range, and this is obviously no C-class. CLA is therefore the correct compilation for an A-class coupé, even though the L in the middle doesn’t make a lot of sense to these ears.

The GLC crossover due in 2014 – hitherto known as GLC – will be accordingly marketed as GLA. What about the CLA shooting brake? Like its bigger CLS-based brother, it won´t get a bespoke three-letter code.

If they ever materialise, the pending A-class coupe and cabriolet would be badged… what? CLA would come to mind, but this name is already spoken for, so maybe the CLA should be re-baptised CLB, as in B-class, while there is still time to do so.

Err. I thought you said this was supposed to make Mercedes’ car range easier to understand?

As far as the C-class family goes, the next coupe and cabrio will wear the CLC moniker. One rung up, CLE would confirm that you are looking at a two-door E-class.

The new S-class coupe will then be badged CLS, right? Wrong. According to M-B, the four-door CLS coupe retains its familiar contraction as it is widely perceived to be more S- than E-class. Says who?

Following this somewhat contrived philosophy, the big two-door Benz would regain the traditional SLC shorthand symbol while the smaller sister model of the SLS could pick up the prestigeous SLR badge that was not too long ago owned by a moderately successful sports car co-developed with McLaren.

Merc badges explained? Not quite…

Stand by – there is more to come, as Daimler continues to spin off ever more bodystyles from its cars. Like all those new crossovers, and the coupe versions of them.

Maybe three letters are not enough after all.

By Georg Kacher

European editor, secrets uncoverer, futurist, first man behind any wheel