We all take pride in having possession of our cars; we prefer one brand over the other due to various reasons. But how many of us know the meaning of the name of a car we own? We have compiled a comprehensive list of car names that are frequently found on our roads, read below to find out what does the name of your car means?
Alsvin is a subcompact sedan by Changan and is named after a Norse horse Alsvior which also happens to imply being very fast or swift. In Norse mythology, Árvakr “early awake” and Alsviðr “very quick” are the horses which pull the sun, or Sól’s.
Karvaan comes from Urdu word which represents a group of people traveling together, thus best suits as the name of their minivan which is meant to take multiple people along.
Chevrolet cars were available in Pakistan for a brief period during the previous decade. The Optra was a rebadged Daewoo Lacetti, where the name Lacetti derives from the Latin ‘Lacertus’, meaning ‘youthful’. The name Optra however is derived from opt, which defines to make a choice from a range of possibilities.
Cruze is a compact sedan by Chevrolet. The name Cruze is a stylized form of word Cruise, which defines a smooth enjoyable ride without necessarily having a destination done especially for the sake of pleasure.
- Matiz/ Joy
Joy hatchback was assembled locally which was originally a Daewoo Matiz. The word Matiz comes from Spanish meaning hue of colors. Joy defines as happiness, whereas for a brief period the imported units of this car were also sold as Chevrolet Exclusive.
Aveo was a subcompact sedan by Chevrolet available for a short period in our market. The name Aveo is a Latin word which means ‘to be happy’.
Spark hatchback replaced the Joy in our market. The name Spark defines an intense feeling.
Charade was a popular hatchback by Daihatsu and was considered as the craze of the 1980s in our market. The word Charade means something that’s done just for show.
Charmant was a popular sedan by Daihatsu during the late 1970s and 80s. The name Charmant comes from a French word which means charming or appealing.
- Cuore/ Mira
Cuore is a small hatchback produced by Japanese automaker Daihatsu. The word Cuore comes from Italian which means Heart. The car however is called Mira in its home market, the word Mira is a feminine given name which means wonderful.
- Terios/ Terios Kid
Terios is a compact SUV by Daihatsu. The “Terios” name is originated from the old Greek word, which is roughly translated to “making dreams come true”. Smaller kei versions of Terios were called as Terios Kid that were sold only in Japanese Domestic Market till 2012.
Sirius was a 7-seat MPV offered by FAW in our market. Sirius is named after the ‘brightest star in the night sky’.
X-PV is a global acronym for EXtreme Performance Vehicle.
V2 is just an alphanumeric nameplate. Not many people know that the car was originally being developed as a sedan codenamed V2, while its hatchback version was designated as V1. Towards the production phase, FAW decided to ditch the sedan and renamed the V1 hatchback as V2. Better still, V2 is the speed at which an aircraft leaves the runway for takeoff.
Accord is a popular mid-sized sedan by Honda. The word Accord reflects Honda’s desire for accord and harmony between people, society and the automobile.
BR-V is a 7-seat MPV sold by Honda. The name is an abbreviation of Bold Runabout Vehicle.
CR-V is a compact crossover SUV by Honda, the name of which stands for Compact Recreational Vehicle.
Civic is one of Honda’s oldest and most popular nameplates. The name Civic represents a car that’s created for citizens and cities.
City is also a popular subcompact sedan by Honda that slots below the Civic. Like Civic, the word City represents a family sedan designed for general city use.
- HR-V/ Vezel
HR-V is a subcompact crossover SUV by Honda. The name HR-V is an abbreviation of Hi-rider Revolutionary Vehicle. In its home market, the HR-V is called as Vezel. The word is coined from Bezel which means oblique faces of a cut gem, or a groove holding a crystal in its place. The letter B is replaced by V which represents Vehicle.
- Fit/ Jazz
The original name of Honda Fit was supposed to be Fitta, however too close towards its launch it was found that Fitta in Swedish is literally translated as a vulgar description of a female vagina. Even in other European countries such as in Spain and Italy, the name Fitta also sounded similar to some other vulgar words. Hence the car was renamed to Jazz for the European markets, Jazz is a type of music of American origin. For its home market, the original name was slightly modified as Fit which remains so today.
The origins of Honda’s popular sports car NSX trace back to 1984, with the first HP-X (Honda Pininfarina eXperimental) concept. Later the concept evolved and had its name changed to NS-X, which stood for “New”, “Sports car” while X was a reference to the mathematical symbol X, which stands for an unknown variable. The car retained this codename towards the final production phase and was described as (New Sports car eXperimental). In 2016, Honda introduced the new generation NSX, while the name was retained, its description was modified into (New Sports car eXperience).
Pony was the first vehicle produced by South Korean automaker Hyundai. Also appeared in our market back in the 1980s, the Pony was named after a small breed of horses.
Excel was a popular subcompact sedan by Hyundai in the 1990s. The word Excel defines one’s ability to be exceptionally good at or proficient in an activity.
- Atos/ Santro
Santro is an India-specific name of Hyundai Atos. The word Atos comes from Portuguese which means ceremony. However it is believed that the Santro name was derived from word sāndra in Sanskrit which means tough & compact. Originally Atos, the Santro nameplate was used to market the car in India and Pakistan only.
Another popular car from Hyundai, the name Elantra comes from the word “elation;” which reflects the vehicle’s ability to lift one’s spirits when driven.
- Santa Fe
Santa Fe is an SUV by Hyundai named after the city of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Santa Fe means “holy faith” in Spanish and is considered a milestone in Hyundai’s restructuring program of the late 1990s because the SUV was a hit with American buyers. It was so popular that at times, Hyundai had trouble supplying the demand. The Santa Fe quickly became Hyundai’s best seller and largely contributed to Hyundai’s success in the United States.
Tucson is another compact SUV slotted below the Santa Fe in Hyundai’s lineup. Like the Santa Fe, the Tucson is also named after a place– the city of Tucson, Arizona.
Kona is another subcompact crossover SUV by Hyundai. The Kona is named after the western district of the island of Hawai. However in Portugal and some European markets, the car is sold as the Hyundai Kauai, as Kona is too similar to cona, the taboo slang word for the female genitalia in Portuguese. Like Kona, Kauai is also a place in Hawaii, and is also Hawaiian word for ‘Lady’.
Verna is a subcompact sedan by Hyundai that rivals against the likes of Honda City & Toyota Yaris/ Vios. The word Verna in Latin means Born in Spring.
Picanto is a small hatchback produced by South Korean automaker Kia since 2004. The word picante means spicy or hot in Spanish. Based on this the name Picanto is a play on words while it finishes in “o” instead of “e” to make it sound more appealing to international audience.
Rio is a popular subcompact by Kia. Rio means “river” in Spanish and is chosen for the flowing fluid nature of its design and engineering.
Sportage is known as the most successful SUV in modern era. Its name is a combination of “Sport” and the suffix “age” which describes a state of quality of the vehicle.
- Spectra/ Forte/ Cerato
Spectra is a plural for spectrum, which is the distribution of colors produced when white light is dispersed by a prism or diffraction grating. While the Spectra wasn’t able to become a success for Kia, it was succeeded by Forte, which means “strong” in Italian, and is a colloquialism for “strength” in English. Its use signifies Kia’s confidence behind the new compact sedan. In various markets, the Forte is also marketed as Cerato, the word which is used to represent the horn of a fighting animal.
- Grand Carnival/ Sedona
Name of a luxury MPV by Kia which translates into festival. In North American markets, the Grand Carnival is called as Sedona– which is named after city of Sedona, Arizona.
Stinger is a sportier compact executive fastback. Its name signifies the part of a bee, scorpion or other stinging animal that can inflict the damage to predators. According to Kia, the Stinger serves as a weapon against the bigger badges in the luxury sports vehicle market.
Stonic is a B-segment crossover by Kia. Its name is derived from the words ‘speedy’ and ‘tonic‘, conveying energy & sportiness.
Pride hatchback was the first Kia vehicle to be introduced in our market back in the mid 90s. Pride means deep pleasure or satisfaction derived of one’s achievements.
- RX-7/ RX-8
The RX is a series of sports cars equipped with rotary engines. The RX stands for Rotary Experiment. The name implies to RX-7 (Rotary Experiment #7) which was produced between 1978 and 2002, and the RX-8 produced between 2003 and 2012.
- MX-5/ Miata
The MX stands for Motoring Experiment. For North American markets, the MX-5 was called as Miata which is a German word for Reward.
The Familia was a popular nameplate for Mazda between 1963 and 2003. These cars were also marketed as 323 or simply 3. Familia is an Italian word which refers to Family.
From 2004 onwards, the Familia range was replaced by the Axela. The name Axela means Excellent, while the digit 3 still represents these cars in most markets.
- Lancer/ Evolution
Lancer is a popular subcompact by Mitsubishi produced since 1973. The word Lancer is used for cavalry soldier who is armed with a lance weapon. The performance oriented versions of Lancer were called Evolution or Evo in short. Evolution describes gradual development of something– towards better performance in this case.
Galant is a mid-sized saloon made by Mitsubishi since 1969. The name came from the French word Galant, meaning “chivalrous” which is described as man’s courteous behavior especially towards women.
Mirage is a hatchback produced by Mitsubishi, although the name has also been used to sell Lancer models in various markets. The word Mirage means an optical illusion caused by atmospheric conditions, especially the appearance of a sheet of water in a desert or on a hot road caused by the refraction of light from the sky by heated air.
- Pajero/ Montero
Pajero is a popular SUV by Mitsubishi which was considered as a status symbol in our market back in the 1980s. The Pajero is named after the pampas wild cat (leopardus pajeros), however in European markets the vehicle was renamed as Montero since the word Pajerro in Spanish means Wanker and is definitely not suitable to be called in most European countries where Spanish language is spoken or understood. The word Montero on the other hand, roughly translates as Mountain Warrior.
- Sunny/ Sentra
Sunny has been a popular nameplate in Nissan’s lineup. Its presence in our market dates back to 1960s when the vehicle was sold as Datsun. The word Sunny means brightly lit by sunlight, whereas the vehicle is also called as Sentra in North American markets. Sentra comes from sentry– a soldier stationed to keep guard– thus the name evokes an impression of safety.
The Bluebird is considered as Nissan’s most internationally recognizable nameplate. It was even popular in the 60s when sold under the Datsun brand. Bluebird is named after an American songbird of the thrush family, the male of which has a blue head, back, and wings.
Till 2012 the Sylphy was known as Bluebird Sylphy, however from 2012 onwards it became a separate nameplate as a successor to Nissan Pulsar. Sylphy means a young slender woman.
Pulsar is named after a star that spins very fast and cannot be seen but produces regular radio & electromagnetic signals.
Patrol is a mid-sized SUV by Nissan which means an expedition to keep watch over an area– again evoking the sense of safety.
Nissan Dayz is a popular kei car, its name originates from English word days which represents practicality and everyday usage of this car.
Saga is the oldest and most popular nameplate in Proton lineup. The word Saga means a long story of heroic achievement.
- Persona/ Wira
The Persona nameplate was first used in 1993 for the export versions of Wira sedan. Persona means aspect of someone’s character that is perceived by others. Wira on the other hand means Hero.
The Iriz hatchback is successor to Proton Savvy. The name Iriz was picked as the winning entry in a naming contest. It is inspired from the anatomical term iris, representing sight and vision.
Gen-2 was a name used for Proton aeroback produced between 2004 and 2012. The name Gen-2 is an abbreviation of Generation 2, as it served as the replacement to the Proton Wira aeroback.
X70 is the first-ever SUV in Proton’s lineup which is based on Geely Boyue. According to Proton the letter ‘X’ serves to denote vehicles in the crossover or SUV segment. Meanwhile, the number ‘70’ refers to the size/class of the SUV, and provides Proton with naming system that allows bigger or smaller models to be added in future. Since Proton intends to introduce the X70 in export markets, the alphanumeric naming convention will help create a unified standard nameplate rather than to have separate names for different markets.
The Exora is a popular MPV in Proton’s lineup that was first introduced in 2009. Exora is a flower that blooms in a bunch, so the word perfectly evokes the spirit of the MPV, which is togetherness. It demonstrates the Exora MPV as a true family vehicle.
Alto is a popular hatchback by Suzuki, various generation models of which have been available in different local names in Pakistan. The word Alto is a musical term in Italian, the word is used for a woman who has a low singing voice. Alto also refers to a musical range lower than a soprano and higher than a tenor.
APV is a multi-purpose van produced by Suzuki. Its name is an abbreviation of All Purpose Vehicle.
Baleno was a subcompact sedan available in Pakistan between 1998 and 2005. The name Baleno comes from Italian and means a ‘flash of light’.
The Liana sedan replaced Baleno in 2005 and was available till 2014. Although the word Liana is used for most beautiful people, according to Suzuki the name is an acronym for Life In A New Age.
Swift is also a popular hatchback by Suzuki. The name Swift means happening quickly or promptly and is also a name of a bird. Swifts are among the fastest of birds, and have been reported traveling at speed up to 169 km/h.
- Cultus/ Celerio
The name Cultus has been applied to various Swift generations in Pakistan. The current Cultus model is a rebadged version of Suzuki Celerio. The name Cultus is Latin word meaning “care” or “adoration”. The Celerio name comes from Celestial River. Celer- is also a Latin root word meaning speedy or quick.
The name Jimny originated from a word picked up by Suzuki executives during a trip to Scotland. Originally intended to be called the ‘Jimmy’, linguistics errors arose in translation and they ended up calling it the ‘Jimny’. Its meaning can best be described as an expression of surprise.
The name Vitara comes from Japanese which translates into Suzuki’s slogan ‘Way of Life.’
Corolla is a popular sedan by Toyota which needs no introduction. The word Corolla is actually the ring of petals around the central part of a flower. The name was intended to evoke the image of a beautifully styled, eye-catching compact car.
Corona was a popular sedan by Toyota produced between 1957 and 2001. The word Corona is the bright halo of light around the moon at night, or around the sun during an eclipse.
Carina was produced between 1970 and 2001, it was replaced by Toyota Allion. The inspiration for the name Carina came from the constellation Carina. Its name is Latin for the hull or keel of a ship.
- Vitz/ Yaris
Vitz is a popular hatchback produced by Toyota. The name Vitz is the phonetic anglicized spelling of the German word Witz which means “wit”. While the name Vitz remains specific for the Japanese domestic versions, in export markets the car is called as Yaris, which stems from Charis in Greek mythology, who was a symbol of beauty and elegance. According to Toyota the Yaris name was given to convey a more European impression.
Vios is another subcompact by Toyota. The name Vios is derived from Latin and means ‘to move forward’.
The C-HR is a subcompact crossover SUV by Toyota. The name C-HR is an abbreviation of Coupe High Rider.
Camry is a mid-sized saloon produced by Toyota, the name Camry means ‘crown’ in Japanese.
- Land Cruiser/ Cygnus/ Prado
Land Cruiser is a popular mid-sized SUV by Toyota. The name implies the ability of the vehicle to go anywhere. Cygnus is a northern constellation (the Swan), while Prado is Portuguese for “meadow” or “grass field.”
- Prius/ Prius-C/ Aqua
Prius is a popular hybrid vehicle developed by Toyota. The name is derived from the Latin prefix meaning “to go before”. The smaller version of Prius hybrid is called Prius-C where C represents city, while in Japanese domestic market it’s called Aqua– the Latin name for water.
Starlet was a popular Toyota hatchback during the 70s and 80s. The word ‘Starlet’ means a brightly lit small star.
- Belta/ Platz
Belta was the sedan version of 2nd generation Vitz that replaced the Toyota Platz. Belta is the Italian word for beauty. Whereas Platz was the sedan version of 1st generation Vitz, the name of which defines “spaciousness” in German.
Passo is Italian for ‘step’. The name conjures up the image of a casual and approachable car.
Premio is a successor of Toyota Corona. The name is a Spanish word for ‘prize’ or ‘reward’.
Toyota Allion is a sister model of Toyota Premio which succeeded the Carina sedan. Allion name is inspired by the “All–In-One” concept of the vehicle and reflecting the manufacturer’s ambition to integrate the advantages of all vehicle types into this car.
The Hilux is a popular pickup truck by Toyota. Its name is a combination of two words– High and Luxury.
- Fortuner/ Surf
Fortuner is a mid-sized SUV built on Hilux platform, its name comes from the English word Fortune which means luck. The Fortuner is successor of Hilux Surf, where Surf meant large sea waves which symbolize the expansiveness of the vehicle’s utility.
- Mark X
The Mark nameplate has been applied to various Toyota saloons such as Mark-II, Mark X. The various meanings of ‘Mark’ are the same as in English (target, grade, fame etc). The ‘X’ denotes something unknown or unspecified, implying a car for future generations.
Hiace is a popular commercial van by Toyota. The word “Hiace” combines High and Ace, signifying a vehicle that surpasses its predecessor, the Toyoace.
Celica is Spanish for “celestial” or “heavenly.”
Comes from the Latin word ‘Supra’ means “transcending” or “above”.
Stands for “Midship Runabout 2-seater.”
The Harrier is named after a long-winged, slender-bodied bird of prey. Even an emblem depicting the bird in stylized profile can be found on the grille until the XU60 model.
Combination of two words– “CAsual” and “MIni.”
Derived from the suffix “-ist,” the name points to a person who is passionate about something (perfectionist, specialist, stylist, artist, and so on).
Rush is a sister product of Daihatsu Terios. The word Rush has the same meaning as in English– to move with urgent haste/ in excessive speed. The name evokes the image of a brisk and energetic vehicle.
RAV4 is a compact crossover SUV by Toyota. The name RAV4 is the acronym of Recreational Active Vehicle with 4-wheel-drive,
Related: Car Logos and What They Represent
There is a never ending list of automobiles however we have tried to remain focused on the ones having some sort of presence or connection with our market. Still if you think we have missed any vehicle, let us know and we will update the list.
A 3d animation professional with over 20 years of industry experience having served in leading organizations & production facilities of Pakistan, an avid car enthusiast and petrolhead with an affection to deliver writings to help shape opinions. Formerly written for PakWheels as well as major publications including Dawn. Founder of CarSpiritPK.com