Simplification or complication? Mercedes shakes up its badging again

Published: 29 August 2014

Mercedes is about to simplify - it hopes - its entire badging system. All four major model ranges will be affected by the revised nomenclature which is designed to make sense of the alphabet soup.

The idea is to make sure each badge reflects the main range it’s attached to. The GLA baby crossover shows how it’ll work: the GL means it’s an SUV, the A signifies it’s part of the A-class family.

The working title is New Conflict-Free Nomenclature, according to CAR’s sources in Stuttgart. Catchy. Although we’re not sure, on first evidence, that it’s worked.

How Mercedes will simplify its badges

Paying attention? Good. Let’s begin. Mercedes hopes to better integrate additional bodystyles in the existing structure of the brand´s four key car lines: these are A-class, C-class, E-class and S-class.

Extra letters will be used to show which family range each model is attached to. And additional words may be used to simplify spin-off variants - the cause of all this badge confusion in the first place. So the rumoured A-class Coupe will be just that, for instance.

New Mercedes badges rolled out from 2015

GLG Proposed funky LWB crossover, a baby G-Wagen
CSA or CSE Still-to-be-confirmed four-door saloon
SLA Proposed small FWD/4wd roadster
SLC The facelifted SLK
GLC What the renamed GLK will be called
GLE M-class becomes more closely related to E-class
GLE Coupe The new crossover coupe to rival BMW X6
GLS GL is rebranded to attach to S-class family

What about the GLC coupe, scheduled to follow the new GLC (né GLK)? ‘Like the convertibles, coupes no longer warrant a bespoke model designation,’ said our friend from strategic planning. ‘After all, unambiguous shapes like these are self-explanatory.’

Hasn’t Mercedes tried to simplify its names before?

Yes. This actually marks the marque’s second attempt to get its 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dates back to 2011 when the increasingly blurred displacement-related model designation structure was about to be superseded by a displacement-related hierarchy.

In the proposed new framework, the ML350 CDI powered by a 3.0-litre V6 good for 540Nm (400lb ft) would have become the ML540 or, in dotcom terms, the ML 5.4. Sounds logical but was flatly refused as too arcane by key export markets like North America and China. Not to mention Imperial measurement Great Britain.

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By Georg Kacher

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