RS, SVR, GTI – here's what some of the most popular acronyms from your favorite brands actually mean.
Automotive acronyms continue to be used extensively. While most companies typically take two or three letter combinations and turn them into full-on model names – BRZ, MX-5, MKX, for example – it’s often the letters that come after the name that give the biggest clues as to its true identity.
Almost every company from Acura to VW has a unique set of letters that distinguish its cars from the rest of the pack. These are some of the most popular acronyms and what they actually mean.
To accentuate Acura’s already acronym heavy lineup, the automaker includes with it a range of letters that you might need a master’s degree to understand fully. But worry not, we’ve got you covered on three of the most popular – including the new TMU + IPU acronyms used on the NSX.
- NSX: New, Sportscar, Experimental
- SH-AWD: Super Handling All-Wheel Drive
- P-AWS: Precision All-Wheel Steer
- TMU + IPU: Twin Motor Unit + Intelligent Power Unit
Alfa Romeo’s return to the U.S. isn’t without its typical Italian quirks. On every new Alfa Romeo model, the letters D, N, and A are displayed prominently somewhere near the gear lever. Apart from a nod to the obvious biological acronym, the three letters represent a range of performance options inside the vehicle.
- DNA: Dynamic, Natural, and All Weather Modes
German automakers have a tendency to create names for vehicles that are less than focused. The four-door coupe, for example. When it comes to things like variable valve timing, large SUVs, and BMW’s actual three-letter designation, expect nothing less.
- BMW: Bayerische Motoren Werke (Translation: Bavarian Motor Work)
- SAV: Sports Activity Vehicle
- VANOS: From the German "VAriable NOckenwellenSteuerung" (Translation: Variable Camshaft Timing)
Despite what Cadillac’s marketing department tells you, the "V" in CTS-V and ATS-V doesn’t actually stand for "Velocity." The badge was introduced to signify the American automaker’s focus on V8 and outgoing V16 engines. The phrase "V for Velocity" was used later in life to market the high-performance models… but somehow it stuck. CTS and DTS, meanwhile, borrow a few classic nameplates.
- CTS: Catera Touring Sedan
- DTS: DeVille Touring Sedan
- V: V8 and V16 Engines
Chevrolet has many acronyms to classify its famed Camaro sports coupe. The new ZL1 1LE is an example of an acronym within an acronym (neither of which stand for anything specific). But what do they all mean? Three of the most notable trims, LS, RS, and SS, each have a range of performance credentials and options that separate one from the other.
- LS: Luxury Sport
- RS: Rally Sport
- SS: Super Sport
Look past the barrage of Hellcat badges, and the Dodge lineup is filled with a few acronyms to signify its sporty implications. The R/T badge, for example, was first introduced in 1967 on the Coronet. Soon after came the SRT badge to signify even more power, and within the mix of it all, the 392 badge represented the amount of cubic inches under the hood.
- R/T: Road/Track
- SRT: Street & Racing Technology
- 392: Cubic Inches of 6.4-liter V8
Ferrari borrows its most popular acronym from its F1 cars. The KERS hybrid system found on the LaFerrari is the first of its kind on a road-going Prancing Horse, and made its debut in motorsports as early as 2008. But one of the newest letter in the Ferrari alphabet, 'T,' is also the oldest. It's used to signify the turbocharged engine in the California convertible and GTC4Lusso, and the transversely mounted gearbox in the 312T.
- T: Turbocharged / Transverse
- M: Modificato
- KERS: Kinetic Energy Recovery System
Though not usually written as an acronym, the word 'Fiat' is actually four letters that combine to create a single phrase. The phrase, "Fabrica Italiana Automobili Torino" loosely translates to mean "Italian automobile factory, Torino."
- FIAT: Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino (Translation: Italian Automobile Factory, Torino)
Ford has a history of iconic acronyms, most of them are reserved exclusively for high-performance machines like the Mustang and the GT supercar. But even the lowly Focus and Taurus benefit with monikers like RS, SVT, and others.
- SHO: Super High Output
- SVT: Special Vehicle Team
- ST: Sport Technologies
- RS: Rally Sport
In 1909, General Motors bought the Rapid Motor Vehicle Company and rebranded it as GMC. The General Motors Company, as it came to be known, was responsible for trucks, SUVs, and as it know it today, crossovers like the Acadia and Terrain.
- GMC: General Motors Company
Two of the automotive world’s most recognizable acronyms can be found on the backside of Honda’s finest performance models, specifically the Civic. The Si and Type R monikers are typically associated with high horsepower and plenty of torque steer. Of course, it’s all powered with the aid of VTEC, bro.
- Si: Sport Injected
- Type R: Racing
- VTEC: Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control
In 2010, Infiniti slapped an IPL badge and some go-fast bits on its G37 coupe giving it 348 horsepower (259 kilowatts). At the same time, the company added all-wheel drive to its lineup, signified by a single 'X,' available on both the sedan and coupe to counter that newfound performance.
- X: All-Wheel Drive
- IPL: Infiniti Performance Line
In an effort to make meaner some of its most potent offerings, Jaguar introduced the SVR acronym in 2016 to its F-Type sports car following the Range Rover with the same name. The two cars represented the peak of performance, all courtesy of Jaguar’s newly-formed Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) division.
- SVR: Special Vehicle Racing
- SVO: Special Vehicle Operations
The Lamborghini SV acronym made its debut on the iconic Miura in 1972 and hasn’t looked back. It has since been worn by the Diablo, Murcielago, Aventador, and others, and signifies the highest in performance throughout the range.
- SV: SuperVeloce
Lexus uses a single letter to identify its top-trim models: F. The sixth letter in the alphabet not only represents the "flagship" models within the brand, but is also a nod to the automaker’s home track, Fuji Speedway in Japan.
- F: Flagship / Fuji Speedway
Today, most know the AMG badge by its performance credentials. But the three-letter acronym actually contains the name of two of its founders: Hans Werner Aufrecht, and Erhard Melcher, and Aufrecht’s birthplace of Großaspach in Germany. The more you know.
- AMG: Aufrecht Melcher Großaspach
Like the heralded GT-R sports car, Nissan’s Nismo performance arm is actually an acronym in itself. The original motorsports team made its debut in 1984 under the name Nissan Motorsport International Limited.
- NISMO: Nissan Motorsport International Limited
- GT-R: Gran Turismo Racer
Between Porsche’s sporty S models and its high-horsepower turbo models, the GTS acronym splits the lineup and sits on the back of everything from the 718 Boxster to the Panamera to the new 911.
- GTS: Grand Turismo Sport
- WRX: World Rally Experimental / World Rally Cross
- STI: Subaru Tecnica International
The debate rages on as to the true identity of the GTI moniker, but most agree that it stands for Grand Touring Injection to signify the turbocharged 2.0-liter engine under the hood. The hotted-up Golf R, meanwhile, borrows its moniker from the racing team, while the lower-level TSI and TDI engines give clues as to their inner workings.
- GTI: Grand Touring Injection
- R: Racing
- TDI: Turbocharged Direct Injection
- TSI: Turbocharged Stratified Injection