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by Matt Campbell

2016-ford-focus-rs-23

I hate that car brands can’t come up with better variant names. It shits me.

Like, who decided that it was okay to call the second-from-top version of the Honda Civic sedan, the RS? The line-up goes VTi, VTi-S, VTi-L, RS and VTi-LX. It doesn’t even sit nicely in the range!

Oh, and in case you missed it, that’s what Holden has called the mid-range Astra, too. That’s right: the Astra range stands at R, RS, and RS-V. What the hell do any of those monikers really mean?

2017-holden-astra-rs

Personally, I believe that RS should be reserved for Really Sporty models, like the Ford Focus RS. I know that RS generally stems from rally sport, racing sport or Rennsport for German models, so my theory stands true: mid-range small cars that are not proper sports cars shouldn’t bear the RS name.

Audi has its own sub-brand of high-performance RS models, so does Renault Sport; and I have a soft spot for the Skoda Octavia RS (though it really should be called the vRS, because that’s what the badge says!). And everyone knows that the Porsche 911 GT3 RS is a potent piece of Really Sporty machinery.

Holden isn’t a first-time offender with this one: it has labelled the puke-warm top-spec turbocharged Barina the RS, and it really shouldn’t have!

2014-holden-barina-rs-hatch-3

Then there are models with S, SS and SSS. What’s with all the snakes, guys?! I’m waiting for a daring brand to finally call their car the SSSS. It could happen… right? I mean, Fiat went as far as to call the sporty 500 the Esseesse.

There are other weirdly redundant model designations that I’ve never, ever understood. LX. GX. SX. Even things like GL-X and GX-L have left me perplexed for years.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not a massive fan of the Active, Elite and Premium of Hyundai, nor the S, Si, SLi of Kia. The Mazda CX-3 line-up hurts my frontal cortex, too: Neo, Maxx, sTouring (what!?) and Akari.

What I’m saying is, I don’t know if there’s a better way to designate variants in a model line-up than by using numbers, words or letters. How about the Subaru Forester a, Subaru Forester b and Subaru Forester c, for instance? Or the Toyota Corolla 1, Corolla 2 and Corolla 3?

2016-honda-civic-rs-sedan-33

Or maybe all cars should just come as a base model and then buyers ‘spec up’ what they want from there. I can see it now:

CUSTOMER: “I’d like an Audi A3, please.”
SALESPERSON: “Sure, it starts at $36,900.”
CUSTOMER: “I don’t want the base grade.”
SALESPERSON: “It only comes as one grade. You get the base model and build it up from there.”
CUSTOMER: “I want one with extra power and nicer wheels – what will that cost me?”
SALESPERSON: “We used to have one that had a different name, but that was stupid, so now you can just get the A3 with the power upgrade and the wheel upgrade, which adds $10,000. Would you like to add leather trim?”
CUSTOMER: “No thanks, that’s perfect. So it’s $46,900 – have you got one in stock?”
SALESPERSON: “No, and it will take 24 weeks to get your car from the factory.”
CUSTOMER: “There must be a better way!?”

Okay, yeah, the way it’s done now is better… There are cars in stock in various trim levels to suit different buyer profiles, and while their names may be stupid sometimes, I was wrong. Sorry.

But, as for names, surely brands can do better than just brandish letters reserved for better models than what they’re selling on their cheap wares.

Does it shit you as much as it does me? Let us know in the comments section below.

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