The Volkswagen Tiguan is a perfect example of it.
I’m not talking about utility or design or even precise German engineering. I’m talking about the fine art of automotive naming.
Never heard the word Tiguan before? That’s kind of the point. Making up words is a strategy some carmakers occasionally use so they can attach whatever image they want to a new vehicle.
In Volkswagen’s case, the word Tiguan is a combination of “tiger” and “iguana,” though it’s not entirely clear yet what image they hope to achieve with that odd combo. (I’m guessing it has nothing to do with hunting tigers or lounging in the sun on a rock.)
Sometimes a carmaker aspires to connect their vehicle to an exotic location, such as Malibu, Riviera, Outback, Aspen, Tundra, or Tahoe. Toyota apparently has a thing for the third-biggest city in Washington: Tacoma.
These are all fine names that serve their purpose well. But what about names that should have never been plastered on the back end of a car? The Probe (though perhaps appropriate on a rear end), the Gremlin, the Pinto, the Vibe… not exactly words that conjure up images of efficiency, safety, or performance.
One of my favorite things about car names is their sometimes unfortunate translations into foreign languages, including the Toyota Deliboy, Isuzu Mysterious Utility Wizard, Honda Life Dunk, and Daihatsu Naked.
What do you think are the best and worst car names ever?