Question of the Day: Where Does Badge Engineering Stop and Platform Sharing Begin?

Jonny Lieberman
by Jonny Lieberman
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question of the day where does badge engineering stop and platform sharing begin

There's an interesting discussion taking place below the 2011 Audi A3 post from earlier today. I mentioned that for the money (figure right near $40K), I'd take a Subaru STI as opposed to an up-kitted A3 even with the V6, the AWD and the DSG. One of the main reasons is that when you boil the small Audi down, you're left with a VW Golf. Er, Rabbit. However, many of you argue, "so what?" And, as there are no stupid questions, so what indeed? Who cares what underpins the car. The A3 is (somehow) more than a Golf with a nice interior. By that logic, what was wrong with the Cadillac Cimarron? I'm being serious. GM took their basic economy car (Chevy Cavalier), added some leather and slapped some gold badges on the back. Pretty much what Audi does when turning a Rabbit into an A3. Yet one works, and one doesn't. I wonder why? You?

Jonny Lieberman
Jonny Lieberman

Cleanup driver for Team Black Metal V8olvo.

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  • Improvement_needed Improvement_needed on Apr 04, 2008

    i bet that if you showed an 5 door A3 and a 5 door GTI to brownie's mom and told her they both had the SAME transmission and engine (2.0T and 6 speed manual), there's a decent chance she'd vote for badge engineering. That's cause they're BOTH 5 door 'hot hatches'... at similar price points... However, as noted above, there are lots of variations on this platform that are not as similar as the example of the A3 and GTI...

  • Davey49 Davey49 on Apr 04, 2008

    It is a really nice interior in the A3. Plus it has better color choices than the GTI.

  • Willbodine Willbodine on Apr 05, 2008

    The concept of badge engineering goes back some years. The first time motoring journalists copped the phrase was in the Britain of the 1950's. Merger mania was afoot and when Morris and Austin combined to form British Motor Corporation (BMC) the marques Austin, Morris, Wolseley, Riley & MG began selling the same Farina-bodied mid size saloon through all five channels (sound familiar?) I'm glad you mentioned Cimarron, because that was precisely what GM did with their crappy little J car compact. So all of their dealers could have a small car to sell. Therefore, to answer the question, badge engineering is when different brands are applied to the for-all-intents-and-purposes exact same car. Cavalier to Cimarron? Yes. VW Phaeton to Bentley Continental? No.

  • Jthorner Jthorner on Apr 05, 2008

    It's badge engineering when more that 50% of what you see is unchanged between vehicles. Thus the Lambda trio is platform sharing while the Chevrolet and GMC trucks are badge engineered. Fusion/Milan/MKZ ... badge. Fusion/Mazda6 .... platform. Jag S-type/Lincoln LS .... platform. Mazda Tribute/Ford Escape .... badge. It's really quite simple. "By that logic, what was wrong with the Cadillac Cimarron?" Easy, the Cimarron was a crap car which didn't live up to the Cadillac brand. GM didn't invest the development and manufacturing effort into it that would have been required to make a first class Cadillac small car. It didn't help that the starting point Chevy was a piece of crap as well, but the problem with the Cimarron wasn't it's parentage as much as it was the final product. The modern Mini is a great small car. It wouldn't matter if BMW had started with a go-kart, the issue is the goodness of the result. The Cimarron is derided because it didn't come close to living up to it's promise of being the "Cadillac of small cars".