Merc's new naming strategy explained

Mercedes has announced its latest product offensive, with 30 new cars by 2020, 11 of those new and without a direct predecessor. To help smoothe their journey into the brochures and online configurators, Merc has seen fit to give its naming structure a bit of a spit and polish.

Even Mercedes will admit that a name like Mercedes-Benz E300 Bluetec Hybrid is not only a mouthful, but a bit demanding on bootlid space and badge materials.

So some common sense has prevailed. To set the scene, every SUV will now start GL, every four-door coupe and shooting brake CL, and every roadster SL.

A third letter will signify which of Merc’s five core model ranges - A, B, C, E or S-Class - its size and positioning relates to. So the chunky ML 4x4 becomes the GLE (with a swoopier X6 rival named the GLE Coupe), while the SLK will be renamed SLC in 2016.

And fans of Welsh rap, rejoice: when the next generation of Merc’s BMW X3 rival makes it to the UK it won’t be the GLK any longer; it’ll be the GLC.

The feather duster has been applied to Merc’s rather letter-heavy suffixes, too, accommodating what chief of Mercedes sales and marketing, Ola Kallenius, describes as “an explosion in the number of drive systems” available.

Petrol engines will have no suffix, while each of the alternatives will use just a single lower case letter, examples being ‘d’ for diesel-powered cars and ‘h’ for hybrids. So that E-Class hybrid is now simply E300h. Lovely.

Some model names are deemed iconic enough to flirt with the rules a little - the G-Wagen and SL will remain as they are. And in the former’s case, it’s not changing one bit.

“The G-Class is the archetypal SUV”, Kallenius tells us. “Last year was the best ever in the G-Class’s history. It will remain as it is”.

After 35 years on sale, that’s a jaw-slackening stat. And Kallenius’s comments spark an interesting debate. Is it a brave move to sit firm, while the Land Rover Defender heads for wholesale renewal?

Or does the G-Wagen’s archaic nature - arguably where the bulk of its unorthodox appeal lies - sit uneasily with Mercedes’ march towards future tech?