HANS GREIMEL

Two of the cheesiest car names ever?

Automotive News | July 9, 2012 - 7:41 am EST

TOKYO -- Japan’s carmakers have coined their share of kooky car names. The Mazda Bongo, Nissan Fairlady and Daihatsu Naked are three that pop to mind.

Add two more doozies to your list: The Mitsubishi Proudia and Dignity.

These pricey luxury sedans just went on sale here in Japan June 26.

They are rebadged versions of the Nissan Fuga (sold as the Infiniti M overseas) and the Nissan Cima (a hybrid stretch version of the Fuga aimed mainly at the chauffeured caste.) That’s mainly because cash-strapped Mitsubishi doesn’t have the money to build its own top-shelf car.

The nameplates Fuga and Cima aren’t exactly stellar.

But I’m not even sure where to begin with the likes of Proudia. Mitsubishi says it’s an amalgam of “proud” and the “dia” from the “diamonds” in the company’s logo.

To me, it smacks of one of the “Japanglish” gags pulled in the movie Lost in Translation.

Then there’s the Dignity. Talk about clubbing you over the head.

If you have 8.4 million yen ($105,500) to spend on a car -- yes, that’s the starting price -- there’s something ironic about ponying up for a rebadged Mitsubishi called Dignity? Is that really the best way to telegraph your station in life? Buying into the name seems a little too desperate.

And the exterior bears almost no difference from its Nissan counterpart. How dignified is that?

Both nameplates are actually recycled from earlier limousine-style luxury cars that Mitsubishi discontinued in the early 2000s. Those were co-developed with Hyundai.

Still, we shouldn’t spoof Mitsubishi’s luxury OEM efforts. The company plans to sell only 700 of the two models combined this year. At those levels, it’s smart to lean on someone else.

But what about those names?

Hans Greimel is Asia editor for Automotive News.Hans Greimel is Asia editor for Automotive News.

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