Vehicular nomenclature

There was a period in my (relative) youth when many manufacturers were content to give their cars only a number to identify the basic model.  Peugeot still uses this method, while only one letter away Audi name their cars after ISO216 paper sizes and Citroen go with the related envelopes.

Others do make more of an effort. In the recent past, Volkswagen have named their cars after ball games (Polo and Golf are clear enough, but I’m not sure about the rules of Passat), canids (Fox and Lupo) or winds (Scirocco).  However, I recently spotted the new VW up! (please note the exclamation mark is the work of VW rather than the author).  I’m not sure if we should expect to see the VW WALL-E or the VW Strange next: are they running through the oeuvre of Pixar or the names of quarks?

Talking of unnecessary punctuation in car names, what is one to make of the Kia cee’d?    It clearly isn’t a possessive and it seems unclear what letter (or group of letters) have been replaced by the apostrophe.  My theory is that the word must be taken from the Kx’a family of languages from Southern Africa and is some sort of click consonant – though this does not help me with pronunciation.

Naturally, I drive a Toyota iQ – which is clearly an entirely sensible name and very cheap to run (or in my case, mostly to not run).  I assume it was named after a cool, modern, hi-tech version of the letter Q.


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