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Badges of honour – but what do all those letters mean?

2018-01-25 06:00

GTI. TDI. M. They’re the acronyms of acceleration; the Scrabble sets of street cred that define not only the automotive enthusiast’s car, but their owners’ very existence. But if AMG in petrolhead jargon stands for “almighty god” and M for “motherless”, what about the rest?

Let’s take a closer look.

AMG (Aufrecht, Melcher, Grossaspach)
The joint grouping of the letters A, M and G refer to the surnames of ex-Mercedes engineers Hans-Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher who founded a then-unofficial performance division for the products of their ex-employer in the town of Grossaspach in 1967. AMG became a full subsidiary of the Daimler-Benz group in 2005. AMG models are distinguished by having two model code digits instead of three post the series name prefix, for example C63, A45 as opposed to C180, E220 and so on.

CDI (Common rail direct injection)
Only seen on the back of Mercedes-Benz diesels, this is less of a model designation and more a descriptor of the fuel used and the technology employed to consume it. This badge first appeared on the W202 series C220 in 1998.

GTI (Grand Touring Injection)
When the Volkswagen Mk1 Golf GTI was first unveiled at the 1975 Frankfurt motor show, most of its peers were still carburettor-fed, which meant they were slow and inefficient, to say nothing of unsexy. In an attempt to distinguish – and brag about – the now fuel-injected and sportier Golf, VW added an “I” to the GT prefix. Thus, the GTI was born. However, as mythical as the badge has become, similarly it’s hardly a mechanical differentiator nowadays as all modern cars are fuel injected anyway.

HSE (High Specification Equipment)
Bet you didn’t know this one. The sole preserve of top-spec Land Rovers and Range Rovers, HSE is the flagship grade as opposed to the lower spec SE (officially but probably very quietly referred to as “Standard Equipment”).

M (Motorsport)
Setting up shop in 1972, a group of BMW engineers were tasked with creating a racing arm for the company. Success soon followed, but the foray into road cars only came in 1978 with the M1. While high performance versions of the 5 and 3 Series followed, particularly in the 1980s and 1990s, today the once-iconic M badge has lost some of its allure by questionably appearing on anything from the marque’s limousines to its SUVs.

SDI (Suction Diesel Injection)
SDI is the nomenclature used by the VW Group for their naturally aspirated, direct injection diesel engines. These range in size from 1.7 litres to 2.5 litres and are available in four- or five-cylinder applications. The “suction” reference is there to differentiate the absence of forced induction.

TDI (Turbocharged Direct Injection)
Contrasted to SDI, this is the VW premier diesel offering (which has very much become a swearword post-Dieselgate) that does what it says on the tin, offering driveability and economy that is almost unheard of.  

TSI (Turbocharged Stratified Injection)
The VW Group’s forced induction, direct injection range of engines. Fuel stratification allows for a higher compression ratio which in turn realises better efficiency.

VVTi (Variable Valve Timing with intelligence)
Toyota’s variable valve timing system continuously adjusts the relationship between the camshaft and the camshaft drive. The adjustability in the overlap between the opening of the inlet valve and closing of the exhaust valve results in improved combustion efficiency. Other successive and more intelligent derivatives include VVTL-i, Dual VVT-i, VVT-iE and VVT-iW. Again, like fuel injection, variable valve timing is fairly commonplace nowadays and no longer a uniquely marketable proposition in the automotive realm.

“VVT-i” metal logo sticker. 20x zoom. 3x0,7 mm for 1/24 scale auto.

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