The more you say it’s true, the less we believe you

When it comes to naming a new car, just because you call a car something, doesn’t necessarily make it so…

HERE IS A two-part pop quiz:

a) What do the following cars have in common:

  • Mazda MX-5;
  • Toyota 86;
  • Porsche Cayman and Boxster;
  • Porsche 911;
  • Nissan GT-R;
  • Nissan 370Z;
  • Lotus Elise;
  • Volkswagen Golf GTi;
  • Ferrari 488;
  • Honda Civic Type R; and
  • Subaru WRX STi.

b) What do the following cars have in common:

  • Discovery Sport;
  • Pajero Sport;
  • Camry Sportivo;
  • Jeep Cherokee Sport;
  • Jeep Wrangler Sport;
  • Volkswagen Jetta Sport; and
  • Lexus NX200T F Sport.

Answers: a) these are all sports cars with no ‘sport’ in the name, and b) none of these are sports cars but all have ‘sport’ in the name.

Now while ‘sport’ doesn’t strictly mean high-speed handling, it’s pretty much implied in the case of vehicles. So, the basic lesson here is that any vehicle with ‘sport’ in the name is unlikely to be a true sports car.

The same is also true of actual utility value. At car shows, the more mountainbikes on top of the roof, and the greater the use of attractive lycra-clad models unloading them next to a cliff at sunset, the lower the vehicle’s actual utility value.

It’s even true of sexiness. Honda describe the Odyssey as sexy. But do Alfa Romeo need to describe the 4C as sexy? They do not. It just obviously is.

Today’s lesson in car marketing – the more the car is described as having any given attribute, the less it actually has of that attribute.

  • Tim

    I’m thinking some names that do match – perhaps too blatantly:
    – Bugatti Veyron Super Sport
    – Ferrari 812 “SuperFast”

    I’m looking forward to the SuperDuperFast

  • mixedfish

    The thing is ‘Sport’ and ‘Sports’ have very different meanings. Sport without the S at the end relates more to recreational activities, so an SUV (Sport Utility Vehicle) is something you use to bring all your gear for the outdoors etc. ‘Sports’ car, is related to to a show of athleticism or competition.

    But I think manufacturers are full aware of that, and still proceed to confuse everyone. Similar how they are stating to call 4 door sedan/SUV ‘Coupe’s.

  • Monty

    It’s called Marketing. Another word for confusing, dishonest and irrelevant information to hide the inadequacies of the product. Like my old Ford, a lovely shade of red. Called Vixen. No fox is that colour, not even in a Disney cartoon. Since many cars are now colour matched to the road, we should be able to get “Monash Freeway” or “Nepean Highway” as colour options. For the adventurous, “Great Ocean Road” would do. See? If I wasn’t happily retired, I could get a job in marketing!

    • John John

      What about a colour called Hume Highway? Presumably the paint would still be drying…

      • Monty

        Good one!

  • Allen

    It’s true.

  • Jane Speechley

    Ha! I apply this principle to every area of my life – if you have to state (and re-state) it, it’s probably not true. If it’s true, you won’t need to state it.

    Refer, that sign in the shop selling ‘fashion sunglasses’ or ‘fashion t-shirts’. They’re inevitably not fashionable.

    Likewise, when someone keeps telling you they’re really honest, or a really a nice person? Again, generally not true, if they have to tell you.


Robert Pepper

Robert Pepper

Robert Pepper is the editor of PM4x4, an offroad driver trainer and photographer interested in anything with wings, sails or wheels. He is the author of four books on offroading, and owns a modified Ford Ranger PX which he uses for offroad touring. His other car is a Toyota 86 which exists purely to drive in circles on racetracks. Visit his website: www.l2sfbc.com or follow him on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/RobertPepperJourno/