Megan Closset, a Product Specialist and Training Curriculum Designer for Volkswagen Academy, recently wrote a great article on, “Why VW“ about the origins of the Volkswagen Model names. Here is her article.
Let’s start with Volkswagen: in German it means, “The People’s Car.”
The Volkswagen Golf is actually the German word for “gulf”—as in “the Gulf stream.” In fact, naming cars after prominent winds is kind of a thing for VW.
“Passat” is German for “trade wind.”
“Jetta” is German for “jet stream.”
The Scirocco is named after a hurricane-force wind that originates in the Sahara Desert.
The Touareg is named after the Touareg people of the Saharan interior. They’re a traditionally nomadic people, we thought it would be a great name for an SUV that can go practically anywhere.
The world’s most popular car, the Beetle, wasn’t always called that. In fact, when it debuted we just called it “The Volkswagen.” The Beetle name came about organically as a result of its appearance. In different parts of the world, it has different nicknames. It’s known as the Käfer in Germany; the Vocho in Mexico(for the old Beetles), Costa Rica, and Colombia; the Fusca in Brazil and Portugal; the Coccinelle in France; and the Maggiolino in Italy.
The CC has the distinction of being the Volkswagen with the shortest name. Outside the US, it’s known as the Passat CC.
While not a model name in and of itself, the “R” that appears in Golf R and the R32 is inspired by the German word for “racer”—Renner. The inspirations for GTI and GLI have Italian roots: Gran Turismo Iniezione (“Grand Touring Injection”) and GLI Gran Lusso Iniezione (“Grand Luxury Injection”), respectively.
The Eos is named after the Greek goddess of the dawn. It’s a fitting name for the only coupe with a sunroof built into the retractable hardtop.
The Phaeton is named after the Greek god of the same name, the son of Helios, God of the Sun.
But if we’re talking model names based on mythological figures, a personal favorite is the Tiguan, Volkswagen’s first compact SUV. Its name is a combination of Tiger and Leguan, the German words for “tiger” and “iguana.” You have to admit: it sounds better than the “Volkswagen Dragon.”
**Amending to the original article.** An addition that the Megan Closset left out of the Volkswagen family includes the VW Corrado! The word Corrado comes from the Spanish word for “Jet Stream” or “typhoon.” It is also said to be derived from the Spanish word Correra, to run or the runner.