Any self-respecting gearhead should know how to properly say automotive brand names. After all, there's no point in knowing how many WRC titles Lancia has captured if you keep saying lan-see-ya, is there?
Here then is a list of commonly mispronounced car marques. (That's mark, by the way, and not markee.)
Alfa Romeo: If you're talking about cars and not the play by William Shakespeare, draw out the second syllable of Romeo--alfa ro-ME-yo, with me pronounced as in "mezzanine."
Audi: It's aw-dee, not o-dee. Say it like it hurts: aw-dee.
BMW: Too easy in English, so let's do it the German way: beey-em-veey. Which of course stands for Bayerische Motoren Werke, pronounced bayerishuh motoren verke. The 'w' becomes a 'v'. That means the BMW Welt isn't a roundel-shaped scar, mind you.
Buick: Dating back to 1899, GM's luxury brand is also the oldest among all active American makes. And yet a lot of folks still can't properly say byoo-wik. Stretch both syllables and soften the 'i' in the second. It's the 'i' in "lavish," not the 'y' in "costly," even though Buicks are both.
Chevrolet: Again, for another GM marque that's been around over a hundred years, you'd think there's no way people could still get Chevrolet wrong. Here's hoping that over the next century of its existence, shev-ro-ley gets the faultless enunciation it deserves.
Citroen: What's making folks falter is that Citroen is French--so there must be some letters that don't sound the way they usually do or aren't said entirely. But as far as French words go, this one's actually simple: SEET-tro-en. You can make the 'r' nasal, if you wish. Native English speakers do away with it, and also say the first syllable as "sit." That's fine, too.
Hyundai: Hyoon-dey, we usually call it. Hon-dey, the Americans prefer to say. Well, talktomeinkorean on YouTube sort of gives the 'h' a millisecond life of its own: hh-yonn-de. The version you should use depends on where you are.
Koenigsegg: And here's the big mouthful. We suppose the Swedish language has facets only native speakers can truly navigate. Elsewhere in the world, the accepted pronunciation is kou-nig-zegg. The 'ou' is midway between an 'o' and a 'u,' while the 'z' is midway between an 's' and a 'z'. And the 'gg'? Its utterance here is aggrandized. Just gggo for it.
Lancia: No, as we've mentioned earlier, it's not lan-see-ya. Next time, say lan-cha as in "Mancha," where a certain quixotic don hails from. (For the record, the Italian carmaker has 16 WRC cups--10 manufacturers' titles and six drivers' trophies.)
Mercedes-Benz: Mer-SAY-deez, Americans keep saying, and so it became the mainstream delivery of the name. In case you want to be a stickler about it, however, stiffen up your 'r' a bit and say Mertsaydes Bents, the 'u' in both cases like the one in "dust." If that's too hard, there's always the Filipino fallback: Chedeng lang 'yan.
Pagani: The brand's name is straightforward enough; that of its current offering, not so much. The Huayra was named after "the father of the wind" in Incan culture. Drop the 'h' and say wai-rah, putting equal stress on both syllables.
Peugeot: Those French intricacies we were talking about in SEET-tro-en do come in play here. Take away both 'e's and the 't', for a start. That leaves you with three letters, the most troublesome of which is the 'g'. It's essentially a jsh sound rather than an outright j as in jet. So, poo-jsho. Yes, that's it. Poo-jsho. Very good.
Plymouth: Not the first syllable of "plywood" crossed with mouth. Not even close. Not that you'll have many chances of saying the name--the brand's been defunct since 2001. But for the record, you say pli-muth. It's an abrupt intonation, the 'u' in the second syllable uttered like the one in, well, "utter." As for the first syllable's vowel, it sounds like the 'i' in "listen."
Porsche: Instead of stopping at porsh, go right for the overrun: porsha. You can even let it rip on the 'r' instead of rolling the consonant. And for the record, the brand's iconic sports coupe is the nine-eleven or the noyn-elf in German, never the nine-one-one.
Renault: Let's eliminate the unneeded letters again--the last two in this case. Now, the marriage of 'a' and 'u' here is not the painful combination in aw-dee. Say it as in "automobile." Put all remaining letters together, and you have re-no. Easy, no?
Subaru: The stress is on the first syllable--Soo-ba-roo instead of soo-BAA-roo. It's a Japanese carmaker famous for boxer engines, Symmetrical AWD, and the im-pret-sa model, the go-fastest variant of which is the STI.
Volkswagen: We said earlier that Germans turn their 'w's into 'v's. Well, their 'v's also become 'f's. What the eff, right? So the biggest German carmaker is folks-va-gun, with that last syllable a clipped enunciation of "gun" (as in pistol). If you're keen to get a job with the new local distributor, get the name right: folks-va-gun.
NOTE: This article was last updated on April 26, 2021.