By on October 20, 2017

2018 Audi A7 Sportback - Image: AudiSee that new Audi A3 with between 109 and 129 horsepower? That’s an Audi A3 30. And see the badge on the back of that Audi A4 2.0T? Right, it doesn’t say 2.0T. It says Audi A4 45.

Huh?

Exactly. Huh. Many huhs. “Huh?” is being heard everywhere. In fact, even within Audi, “Huh?”, was an expression heard often enough that Audi of America won’t be adopting the new model designation format. That’s a relief.

Remember when you looked at the back of a German car and could instantly decipher its engine displacement?

2018 Audi A8 rear badging - Image: AudiAh, yes, the BMW 328i, a 3 Series with a 2.8-liter inline six. The Mercedes-Benz S500, an S-Class with a 5.0-liter V8. The Audi A4 2.0T, aforementioned, with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. It all made so much sense.

For the 2018 model year, the BMW 340i is equipped with a 3.0-liter turbocharged straight six. Same engine as the BMW 330i? Of course not: the 330i uses a 2.0-liter turbo. At Mercedes-Benz, the 2018 S450 has a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 under the hood. And if S63 has you thinking V12, don’t be so silly. That’s a 4.0-liter turbocharged V8.

Granted, it’s not just the Germans. Slathered across the trunklid of the 2018 Lexus LS is an LS500 badge, but the car features a 3.5-liter turbo V6. Even worse, the 2018 Lexus IS uses a different engine in the Lexus IS300 and the Lexus IS300 AWD.

Fortunately, Audi will refrain from utilizing the most confusing badging scheme of them all, Car And Driver reports, “at least for the time being.” Audi is certainly making enough headway in America without absolutely bewildering consumers. Sales have risen in 81 consecutive months, jumping 6 percent in the U.S. through the first nine months of 2017 even as industry-wide sales slip 2 percent.

[Images: Audi AG]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars and Instagram.

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41 Comments on “Utterly Ridiculous New Audi Nomenclature Scheme Is Not Happening in the United States...”


  • avatar

    What’s your favorite 90s German car? (Hey look, future QOTD)

    I think:

    190E 2.3-16
    OR
    S600 V12 Coupe
    OR
    SL600

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      3. 1995 SL 73 AMG. 525 hp NA V12.

      2. D2 S8 40V (2000 MY, but came out in 1999) for the best-sounding total sleeper ever.

      1. 500E!!!!

      • 0 avatar

        I like Dal’s answers. I thought of the 500E, but was too lazy to see if it made it into part of the 90s.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          Speaking of German cars…

          I’ve been spending too much time looking at stick-shift F10 550is. The move to more luxury when I got my Lexus was the right one, but I’ve been finding myself missing a manual more than I expected. The F10 550i stick is basically a SSWB 7-series with a manual and just about the only car ever made that fits the “total luxury + stick” bill. Only about 400 of them were sold in the US, total, between 2011 and 2013, so they’re not easy to find. Inertia and knowledge of the mediocre reliability record, especially of the engine, will probably stop me from picking one up but they are sure tempting.

          • 0 avatar

            I never knew that was an option for a 550i. Certainly never seen one!

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            This is what appears from the pictures to be the nicest one on the market today:

            http://champagnemotorcarcompany.com/inventory-details/2013/BMW/5%20Series/WBAFR9C52DC271560

          • 0 avatar

            Looks pretty nice, little worrisome that there’s no service history in the CarFax perhaps. But the dealer should have it.

          • 0 avatar
            EX35

            Isn’t the N63U one of the most unreliable engines BMW ever produced? The horror stories seem to be well documented on bimmer forums.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Yes, the early N63 engine is a problem. Mostly it seems to be fuel system issues, which are fixable with updated parts. But there are also some people experiencing oil consumption that requires an engine rebuild to fix.

            The cars also don’t have a stellar record on electrical system parts.

            But I’d be willing to overlook some maintenance cost (not an engine rebuild) to get a luxobarge with a V8/stick combination.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      The one that still works 20 years later.

      Okay that was a cheap joke, I vote BMW Z3, NFS High Stakes nostalgia anyone?

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Actually, I used to admire the 190E 2.3-16 for it’s honesty.

      The 190 was a 1.9 liter four, fuel injected. They dropped a bigger engine in it with more valves, but didn’t upgrade the car otherwise. So to admit that you were getting the old car with the new engine, they did 190E 2.3-16. Once you got a new car to go around the new engine, they’d call it 230E.

      I seem to remember them doing the same to the big cars when they replaced the straight six with a V-8, but didn’t change the car otherwise.

      There was a time when you could tell what Mercedes you had by merely looking at the trunk lid.

      That was a long, long time ago.

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        The W201 never had a 1.9l engine. There was a 1.8l outside of our market, but otherwise all engines were 2l or bigger.

      • 0 avatar
        CRConrad

        Yeah, the “190” was actually the first “liar” model in that sense. That’s because it was actually smaller than all other “non-series” Mercedeses at the time: It was the predecessor to the C-class, but Mercedes hadn’t yet got around to making the E-Class an actual “Class” designation; the “E” was still just a badge to signify “Einspritzung” on those non-S-Class cars that had fuel injection.

        For the next generation they slapped on the C (for Compact) on the small one, and as a concequence their model range looked pretty weird for a couple years with two actual “Classes” — groups of models — each with its own Class designation at the top and bottom of the model range, and an anonymous bunch of “no-Class” models in between.

        It took until they realised they didn’t actually have any carburetor models any more for them to move the E from the back of the 300 E to the front of the E 300 (and so on; 200 E –> E 200, etc, etc) and make the mid-range the E-Class.

        But anyway, TL;DR: The “190” was deliberately mislabelled so as to designate the smaller body, not the engine. I think it actually had a 2-liter, but they already had a slightly larger “200”. (And I also think they may have done the same thing decades earlier, with the 1950’s “190”.)

    • 0 avatar
      notapreppie

      300TD Turbo.

      In Brown.

      With the transmission swapped for the 5MT.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    I don’t get the Sturm und Drang over this kind of stuff. Displacement is an arbitrary number that we only care about at all because it was taxed in the early days of cars (and still is in some other countries). In these days of ubiquitous turbocharging and hybridizing it has little or nothing to do with either power or fuel consumption. I think basing trim level names straightforwardly on power levels makes a lot more sense.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    I don’t see why they put 2.0T on any car, it cheapens the brand as a whole to know they are selling premium cars with motorcycle sized engines. I’d frankly be embarrassed just to drive a rental with that on it.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Motorcycle sized engines?

      Unless you’re talking Japanese V-twins (a prime example of “better my sister in a whore house than my ass on a Jap bike”) the only motorcycle engine out there of roughly that displacement is the Triumph Rocket III. 2.3 liters of inline triple that’ll tear your hands off the bars if you nail it while using a relaxed grip.

      I know . . . . . . Fortunately, I kept it up, because the bike was a pre-production prototype that I wasn’t supposed to be riding.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        So not quite 2.0 but both Harley and Indian sell a 1.8L and Harley at least sells quite a few.

        • 0 avatar
          sgtjmack

          Yes, that is the case with those bikes, but there is a huge difference in those engines you mentioned, not to mention the weight, size, hp and torque numbers. Completely different animals.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Of course their completely different, my point was there’s no reason any car consumer should have to put up with a engine that’s barely any bigger (in displacement) than a motorcycle engine. And there really isn’t, it’s crazy that people are paying over $30,000 to buy a car that can’t even offer a decent sized engine.

    • 0 avatar
      sgtjmack

      What? Are you serious? The 2.0T is a great, all around engine with plenty of get up and go, along with mentionabke reliability. It is apparent that you have never driven one. Do yourself a favor and take one out for a spin. You’ll be surprised.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    “…The Mercedes-Benz S500, an S-Class with a 5.0-liter V8….

    …At Mercedes-Benz, the 2018 S450 has a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 under the hood. And if S63 has you thinking V12, don’t be so silly. That’s a 4.0-liter turbocharged V8….”

    This make sense. Before carton of ice cream was 16oz. Now, 13oz. And so on. typical business model seen everywhere.

    Last year I saw MB E-class at the mall. $$75K. Let me see what engine?… what? ? ? ? ? 4cyl turbo…. Forget it. I wouldn’t pay $75K for luxury of 4cyl engine, even turbo.

    • 0 avatar

      Really. OK, I’m impressed with the output of a 2.0 liter turbo BMW, likewise the same in a Ford. Yes, you can get 300 hp out of one, or more if you twist it hard. I was entertained by the boost gauge in a Mustang going 14-20 lbs, but guess what.

      It is still a four. A luxury car has at least a six, if not an eight. Fours belong in FWD cars. I saw a bunch of 2.0T Caddies…uh, no

      • 0 avatar
        eyeofthetiger

        Four is the new six, and three is the new four. Update your maths.

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          “Four is the new six” only in your mind. That if you accept this. But if you don’t put your money into their cash registers, they might rethink the strategy. If I pay for luxury, I want to get the silk.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        I drove BMW 528 with 2T. It has nice pickup. Imagine what would be if it was less heavy, lets say like Mazda6. But, when I pay $$$, do I want to splash 50+K for a 4-banger? My answer – NO. I believe, the only reason they sell those is because of badge-shopping. Many people don’t shop BMWs because it is rear drive, or because they can get something else out of it. They only buy it based on the badge. This is show-up job. And they scrub their pennies to pay those leases. If I wanted to buy luxo car, it would have laxo powertrain.

      • 0 avatar
        markx35

        Can’t agree more.

        Large part of luxury is in the qualitative part like engine smoothness, response, sound, etc.

        2.0T is only competitive on the quantitative part (HP, torque).

        Same for the comparison between a turbo 6 and a V8.

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    “Remember when you looked at the back of a German car and could instantly decipher its engine displacement?”

    You mean like the 2.7L 325e? Or what about the 3.4L 535? ;)

    In the days when nearly nothing had a turbocharger bolted to the exhaust manifold or an electric motor at the crankshaft, it was easy to equate engine power with displacement.

    Today, you can tune a 2.0T to deliver 12 different levels of power. Don’t forget the hybrid trims, which depending on the brand can be oriented for performance or economy.

    Almost nobody cares about the number of cc’s under the hood. On the sales and marketing side, it’s easier to present cars in some even numerical order instead of having to explain why all the cars on the lot have the same engine, but that one over there has 50% more power and costs twice the price.

    On the manufacturing side, it’s simpler and cheaper to build fewer core engine types.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Or the 528e with that very same 2.7L.

      As I have said on here for ages, engine displacement has only coincidentally matched the badge on BMWs since approximately 1980 when the 320i started coming with a 1.8l motor. So much idiotic ado about absolutely nothing. The bigger the number, the faster it goes and the more it costs.

      As for the idiocy around here against 2.0T motors, I simply feel that it is vindication that Saab got it right 25+ years ago, and the rest of the world is just now catching up to them.

  • avatar
    WheelMcCoy

    Dang Europeans and their metric system!! I kid, I kid.

  • avatar
    Fred

    Even more reason to get the floss out and peel off those labels.

  • avatar
    A4kev

    Well that’s great news.Audi is the last manufacturer to maintain a logical model identification system.Guess I’m “old school” but I like continuity and Audi has managed this issue pretty well.BMW and Merc.have abandoned their heritage and it’s bad for the brand.Whats next ? Bluebirds and Nissan Homy Super Long – check it out it’s real !

  • avatar
    jkk6

    Rear looks like the Genesis rear. Way more sexier though.

  • avatar
    NEPA_Z

    I had two 335s (which needed lots of warranty repair, although none for the N54/55 fuel system problems) and then a ’13 550i, which I bought CPO with something like 20k miles. I brought it home and my wife came out to review – only to point out the smoke curling out from below… Yes, on day one it started leaking oil onto the exhaust and needed a week’s worth of repair. I stopped to visit it and found the disassembled intercooler plumbing heavily coated with oil – ugh. This made me recall another CPO 550 I’d test driven – one that unquestionably trailed blue smoke visible in the mirror the first time I accelerated. My facade of faith was crumbling. When they returned it to me with broken plastic parts from the airbox lying on the shock tower, that was the last straw. I returned it – and in a pure-class act the dealer unwound the sale and gave me back my 335 – which I immediately traded for a CTS-V which hasn’t needed to return to the dealer in the four years I’ve had it. I had a 2.0T loaner while the 550 was getting ‘fixed;’ I thought it was a great drivetrain but with nvh not up to the silky expectations of the midsize-plus luxury market.

  • avatar
    VajazzleMcDildertits

    People are idiots and fall prey to the dumbest marketing shit. I learned this when AMD decided to name their Athlon XP CPUs based on the performance, not on their CPU clock speed, in the name of marketing. Everyone poo-poohed it, and then Intel also wound up doing it, and now it’s just an accepted method of naming CPUs which doesn’t really correspond to anything in real life except relative comparisons.

    People see a higher number compared to a lower number and it doesn’t matter what that number means, they just think it’s better. Whataburger made a 1/3rd pound burger for a lower price than McDonald’s Quarter pounder, and it didn’t goddamn matter – people saw a 3 vs a 4 and bought the quarter pounder instead.

    People are morons and this is not really the fault of the carmakers. It works.

    • 0 avatar
      Fred

      While calling everyone morons is a bit harsh, the science of why we do what we do and how it’s applied to marketing is interesting. Why do we buy 10 cans for a dollar, but not one for 10 cents? Why do we buy the variety pack of candy, when all we really like is Snickers? And yea why products are named as they are. The old days of a single person coming up with a name “it’s 40″ tall, let’s call it the GT40” and the boss saying OK, are long gone.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    This is one of those cases where a focus group is needed. It should be 6-year-olds who will pan anything that doesn’t make sense to them.

  • avatar
    CRConrad

    Those numbers feel a bit like the “Tax Horesepower” the French, and before them the Brits, used to have.

    Citroên 2 CV, Audi 35… Yup, same thing.

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