Naming a car is difficult, just ask Mitsubishi why they call the Pajero, the Montero in Spanish speaking countries. But sometimes, laziness, lack of imagination or some other unfortunate circumstances (*cof* marketing fluff), has led to some cars being named after things which do not accurately represent the car itself. The not turbocharged and very electric Taycan Turbo S reminds us that naming a car is more art than science and sometimes, you just can't help but go with something that represents the spirit of the car, despite being inaccurate. Some are glaringly obvious inaccuracies, wile some are nitpicks, but I'll present the evidence and let you be the judge.
When Toyota launched the RAV4 in 1994, they gave birth to what is now one of the fastest growing and most popular segments, the crossover SUV. The name itself was an acronym to describe the aspirations of the vehicle, A Recreational-Activity-Vehicle (which had) 4 wheel drive, RAV4. Sounds fitting, eh? Except not all RAV4's are 4 wheel drive. I'm not even nitpicking this time, so all of you thinking "oh but most RAV4's were 4 wheel drive", nope, not even. 4WD was an option with base models all being 2WD. Some regions didn't even get a 4WD option RAV4 during specific model years. Then there's the RAV4 EV, an all electric variant of the RAV4 which only came in front wheel drive. Today, the base RAV4 is 2WD, with 4WD available as an optional extra. Seeing as most people do not really need 4WD, they're skipping over the option, especially since a) it uses more fuel and b) chances are the most extreme road condition they may face is parking on the grass at a barbeque.
Toyota could have sold them under RAV2, RAV-EV and RAV4 variants, but it's way too late now seeing as the RAV4 is basically a household name now and it's highly unlikely Toyota will just up and change it all of a sudden. So, we stuck with it eh?
*btw when I say 4WD, I really mean AWD btw, don't be an ass about it please*
Ferrari Berlinetta Boxer (BB)
In the 70's Ferrari began using flat 12 engines in their racing cars to aide in lowering the centre of gravity thus improving the car's handling characteristics. They carried this to their road cars starting with the radically different flat 12 powered Ferrari 365 GT/4 BB with BB supposedly standing for Berlinetta Boxer. The problem is that while all Boxer engines are flat, not all flat engines are Boxers. Ferrari's Berlinetta Boxers were closer to traditional V-12 engines (a 180 degree V-12 if you will) than they were to true Boxer engines (which made sense since they were really good at making V-12s) I could go into the details of the differences, but that's what Mike Fernie is here for.
Now, according to Mauro Foghieri, the BB really stood for Berlintta Bialbero, basically translating to "twin cam coupe". Now whether you believe Racconta or not, someone made the mistake and the name is now stuck to the car. Hopefully you can do your part and only refer to it as the Ferrari BB from here on out (I'm still calling it a Boxer tho)
Ferrari probably noticed the error and just dropped the BB name when it came time to replace the car. The more appropriately named Ferrari Testarossa took it's name (meaning red head) from it's red valve covers. After the Testarossa, Ferrari dropped the flat 12 altogether and went back to making proper V-12 engines (especially since their race cars had already made the switch a decade earlier). The V-12 was more flexible and allowed for more freedom to work with the car's packaging, serviceability and aerodynamics. These pros easily outweighed those of a flat engine, so much so, it's hard to see Ferrari go back to making Boxe.. I mean flat 12s ever again.
*ye, I know, the Testarossa really got it's name from someone seeing an earlier Ferrari's engine (a Ferrari 250 or something like that) and saying (in a poor Italian accent) "ah tha head is red, it's a Testa Rossa". AND that after the Testarossa you had the 512 TR then the death of the flat 12. But after reading those last 2 sentences, you can agree with me that they had no place in that paragraph right?*
Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid/GMC Sierra Hybrid (2004-2007)
Calling this a hybrid was a stretch. As far as I could ascertain, the "hybrid" component in this vehicle were nothing more than a glorified stop-start system that had bigger batteries and a bulkier starter motor that would take some of the load from the engine by running the ancillary belts. True hybrids had an electric motor that could help or fully take over from the regular gasoline (or diesel) engine to move the car. Despite not being a full 'hybrid' however, the system did offer some benefits, such as mileage gains in the order of a whopping 1-2 mpg and with larger batteries came more outlets to plug into, making for much better tailgating parties.
To be fair, the early 2000's were confusing times and not everyone understood what hybrids meant. There are some that think hybrids like the Fisker Karma, BMW i8 and Chevrolet Volt are fully electric vehicles and then you have some who think vehicles with stop-start tech are considered hybrid. Even today, people still aren't too sure on the details of electric nomenclature. But as time progressed, GM noticed their error and fixed it. They pulled the hybrid Silverado/Sierra from their lineup (primarily due to poor sales) and eventually replaced it with a hybrid Silverado/Sierra that had a proper electrical assist motor.
I'm sure in hindsight, GM would have probably gone with the more appropriate "eco" suffix for this trim especially since a lot of this tech is what you're currently finding in the base models of a lot of present day vehicles, but apparently this was GM's first try in making a hybrid, so I guess it's something.
Mercedes-Benz's 35, 43, 53 and 63 AMG lines
Many moons ago, Mercedes-Benz AMG's naming strategy was to have the engine size placed beside the AMG badge and boom they had a cool name for their product. Simple eh? The AMG version of the C Class was called C36 AMG because of it's 3.6L inline 6. When AMG put a 4.3L V-8 in it, they called it the C43 AMG and this continued up until the now memorable 6.3L V-8 (actually 6.2L but we rounding up) that powered the C63 AMG. All other Mercedes-Benz models followed this AMG naming protocol, except for the 65 AMG models which had a 6.0L twin turbo V-12, but even that was forgivable compared to what was to come.
AMG came out with the M177 motor, a fine piece of work which surpassed every AMG motor before it, but, and this is a big but, it was 4.0L. Now, marketing doesn't like when you replace a car with a smaller number attached to it's name. It's not easy to convince the general public that the new E40 AMG was better than the outgoing E63 AMG, even if the E40 AMG has an inexplicably large following in the Bay Area. So Mercedes just continued to slap the 63 AMG name on all their now 4.0L AMG cars and hoped no one would care enough (I really don't, but I need to pretend to so this article can at least have some integrity to it)
Now, this isn't a first. Lexus and BMW had similar problems when their smaller engines began to outpower their larger predecessors. They went with a displacement-equivalent naming structure, (which is kinda what Mercedes has chosen to do). VW also had a similar issue when it replaced it's 3.2L Golf R32 model with a much better 2.0L engine. Instead of calling it the Golf R20, they just called it the Golf R. Now Mercedes very likely may have done the same. All their competitors already wisely choose not to include displacement in their top performance models (e.g. Cadillac's CTS-V, BMW's M3, Lexus' IS-F, Audi's RS4, Porsche's Turbo S) which would have made sense to follow, but Mercedes also chose to begin offering multiple AMG trim levels on the same car (which is another bad decision in itself, which I'll get into another time. For example, the GLC comes in both 3.0L powered GLC 43 AMG and 4.0L powere GLC 63 AMG packages.
*you confused yet? we're almost there my lovelies.*
To me, keeping the 63 AMG was a lazy cop out, but Mercedes-Benz fell into a trap of their own doing. They could have ditched the displacement tag altogether for the top AMG models and have lower trim AMG models just have an S or GT suffix. But, seeing as they are now stuck with the 63 moniker, Mercedes are now forced to fall back on the explanation that "oh we're really just honoring the legendary Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.3, which actually had a 6.3L." In my honest opinion, they may have well just gone with honoring the much nicer 300 SEL 6.9 since displacement is now arbitrary.
Honda S2000 AP2
Ok we're getting into nitpicking now. Honda's S series of convertible sports cars have always followed the simple naming tradition of "S" followed by the engine size in cubic centimetres. The S360 used a 360cc engine, the S600 used a 600cc engine, the S660 uses a 660cc engine and so on and so on. So it's no surprise then that the S2000 used a 2000cc engine (it's really 1997cc but we rounding up to the nearest 100cc here). The S2000 was greatly admired with one exception, the high revving engine lacked torque. You really had to be stretching the rev range out, getting into some very illegal speeds, to get the best out of the engine. Honda took note of this and introduced the AP2 revision of the S2000 which had a slightly less rev happy 2.2l engine. Torque increased, the redline dropped, the car had a more usable rev range and pundits all over welcomed the changes BUT the S2000 name stayed despite now being a 2200 cc. I know right? Heresy.
Now, while S2200 is a bit more cumbersome to say than S2000 (especially when you say S2K vs S2.2K), it would have been an acceptable and understandable name change. The AP2 revision was a whole re-tuned package over the AP1 and I think it would justify a name change (Ferrari did it with the 550/575 after all). I do imagine however that Honda chose not to do this for a very small detail, in addition to trying not to confuse Joe Public as to the car they are selling, the AP2 had the same horsepower as the AP1. Despite all the improvements, if you're not increasing horsepower, it's hard to market it as a new car, especially since that's the FIRST thing they'll ask. Just look at the BRZ tS, they threw all the STI goodies at it, but they sure as hell couldn't call it an STI, because the horsepower is the same. It's a stretch, yes, but again, this is borderline nitpicking (especially since earlier I did forgive the 6.0L SL65 AMG), but hey, at least Honda's current S series car, the S660, has an accurate title.
Part 2 coming soon
There's a lot more cars I'd like to go into (PRIMARILY THE COUPE, OMG), but I'll save that for another time. That should give these manufacturers some time to ponder on the sins they have committed.