What are they on about?

9th February 2001 at 00:00
David Newnham buys a bog-standard luxury car

This, says the man at the used car showroom, is the RT. That, on the other hand, is merely the SR. Make no mistake, he assures me. The SR is still a very nice car. But the RT is even nicer.

He is, I gather, speaking the language of Renault. Which is a shame, as I still speak an early version of Ford. Still, with a bit of patience on both sides, I'm sure we'll get along fine.

This RT and SR business, then. Can he tell me what the initials stand for?

They're just the names Renault gives to the different versions of this model, he says. "The same as Ford uses LX and GLX."

Now I once owned an Escort 1.3 L. The L meant that the car had absolutely no refinements. But rather than label it BS for Bog Standard, Ford cunningly began the series with L for Luxe, a French word meaning "luxury". I never understood the difference between L and DL (for De Luxe) as in my dictionary, "de luxe" was simply the adjectival form of "luxe".

But at least I understood the progression. After DL came GL, which stood for Grand Luxe (great luxury?. Then there were the usual bolt-ons, such as GT, meaning Grand Touring, and Ghia, which indicated that some Italian designer of that name had made his mark on the seat covers.

Of course, I've picked up a smattering of non-Ford terms since then. The inclusion of the letter X to suggest eXtra seXy eXecutive eXcitement seems common to most makes, and a little "i" denotes injection and "turbo" denotes turbo (some people even know what "injection" and "turbo" mean).

But what about this SR? What about this RT? "Basically," says the salesman, "the SR is the basic."

But I'm determined to get even more basic. What does SR stand for? SolidReliable? Standard Roadster? Sans Richesse?

After the heights of Sans Richesse, the salesman's answer is a bit of a come-down. "Sun roof," he says. Sun roof? Is that it? Well what about RT then?

"The RT is the next version up from the . . ."

Yes, yes. But the initials RT. What do they stand for?

"Okay," he says finally. "I dunno." But he isn't going to lose a sale over a matter of linguistics. "How about Really Tasty?"

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