Give a dog a bad name….

The Ford Kuga. Kuga means plague in Croation.....

Cars are like dogs, there’s nothing intrinsically evil about them, it’s the owners who give them a bad name.  Providing dog owners are diligent shit collectors and keep their little darlings under control, I’ve no beef with them.  Likewise, cars driven with courtesy and skill are fine by me and I confess that a modicum of speed in the right place never did anyone any harm.  However, stick some mindless twat behind the wheel whose attention is evenly divided between sat-nav, iPod and mobile phone and is it any wonder that motorists and cars end up with a bad name?  Sometimes though, the manufacturer has got there first and lumbered a perfectly adequate car with a numbskull of a name.

As a kid, I loved cars.  I could name model and make from a hub cap, parroted engine sizes, number of cylinders and at night could usually name an oncoming vehicle just by the shape of the headlights.  And what names.  While Austin Cambridge, Humber Snipe and Vauxhall Victor all sounded suitably solid and reassuring the Jensen Interceptor, Lotus Elan and AC Cobra all sounded desirable.  It was the era when car names were evocative and exciting, humorous even.  The Hillman Minx just brought to mind Minnie the Minx, the Chevette always transmuted into shove-it and you were as likely to find a Ford Cortina in a swanky ski resort as a Ford shop steward.
Some names however were just wrong.  I’m sure that when Ford introduced the Escort the word already had some slightly dodgy connotations – try googling it now and see what comes up.   They then produced the Capri, shift just one letter and you have a perfect description of what it was like to drive.  The Japanese manufacturers proved as adept at rubbish names as they were at producing reliable cars.  Daihatsu came up with the Charade, a word usually paired with ‘pathetic’, the Nissan Carisma didn’t have any and who knows what Mazda were thinking of when they named the Bongo.
VW bought out Skoda in 1990 and decided in 1994 that it was time to name a car after a form of oral sex, the Felicia.  Distraught that European manufacturers were stealing a march, Mazda upped their game by bringing out the LaPuta, which left the Spaniards spluttering into their con leches since it means whore in Spanish.  Ford fought back with the Probe, (Ford Penis anyone) and Toyota displayed a pleasing knowledge of cockney rhyming slang with the Y’aris.
More frustrating are those manufacturers who so nearly got the name right.  Take for instance the Mitsubishi Warrior.  It’s a 4×4 generally owned by those for whom outdoor pursuits are more aspiration than lifestyle.  It is too large, too thirsty and driven by brainless burks who, apart from terrorising other road users, haven’t found an outlet for their excess testosterone.  So instead of Warrior, how about going the whole hog and calling it the Stormtrooper?  Likewise, the Land Rover Discovery that’s doomed to spend its whole life on the tough streets of Kensington and Chelsea should really be renamed the Land Rover Waitrose.  The VW Touareg should become the VW Schoolrun, the BMW X5 the M25 and the Skoda Yeti the 4×4 Wannabe.  Damn, I might even start a car name consultancy.  Mitsubishi Global Warming anyone?