by James Siddall
When it comes to tongue twisters you've got to give it to the Welsh. Take for instance Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch – a village whose name means something like “St. Mary's Church in the hollow of white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the Church of St. Tysilio near the red cave.”
But certain motor manufacturers aren't that far behind when it comes to monikers that are, to put it kindly, challenging to pronounce.
Lamborghini, for instance, had the Countach – that absurdly extroverted slab of visual violence, a poster of which adorned many a boy's bedroom wall when I was a kid back in the Eighties.
The correct pronunciation is “koon-taj” with a long J sound, the name roughly translating to “Wow” or “Phwooar.” And that's pretty much the noise you'll make even today on seeing one of these Gandini-designed missiles.
Then there's the Lamborghini Murcielago. The correct pronunciation? “Mer-she-a-la-go.”
In Spanish the word means “bat” but according to Lamborghini it actually refers to a 19th Century bull that proved extraordinarily courageous in a bullfight. Rather like the car's styling – and performance – which made it a worthy successor to models like the Countach and the more pronounceable Diablo.
Still on supercars, does anyone know how to pronounce Koenigsegg? Should you ever get to mention this Swedish supercar in conversation, try “Ko-in-segg,”
But you don't have to pay a king's ransom to get a machine with a tongue-twisting name.
The Fiat Cinquecento, for instance, can be challenging to pronounce, in which case you should simply opt for saying “Say-chento” - which literally means “500” in Italian.
Then there's the Suzuki Kizashi. Now “Kizashi” means “something great is coming” in Japanese. And the best way to say it? Try “Kee-zah-shee.”
It's a bit of a challenging name for a mainstream car – but an apt one.
Automotive doyenne Meyer Benjamin who helms Suzuki Johannesburg South reckons that it's nothing less than the most underrated car on the SA market.
He's not wrong, you know. When, um, I tested one for Autodealer KZN a couple of years ago, the Kizashi, Suzuki's first entry in the luxury car segment, impressed. Deeply so.
Want to know what I had to say?
“Suzuki, after all, has long been known for building brilliant small cars and four-wheel-drives. In South Africa the marque is still famed for the hardly and dinky little SJ off-roaders of the 1980s, while its new Swift is simply superb. The same goes for its SX4, the Grand Vitara, and the baby Alto.
“But a big car, sitting in the upper D segment? Well, I’m not quite sure why Suzuki entered this niche, other than to `expand its automotive horizons,' as the company puts it.
“After a busy week with the Kizashi I can, however, say two things: one I’m glad they did. Two, the Kizashi deserves to succeed. It really does.”
I know quoting yourself is a bit narcissistic, but I went on to say that, “For a start, the styling just smacks of sophistication, and without looking even vaguely derivative, the car will comfortably sit alongside others wearing more traditionally prestigious badges.”
And, my summary? Well, bearing in mind that over the past couple of years I've had an abundance of heavy metal in my driveway in the form of test cars ranging from new Ferraris to most of the latest German luxury offerings, I was still moved to utter thus:
“This is not a good car. It’s a great one, and a sterling first entry into the large luxury category. So it’s not surprising really that the Kizashi was a finalist in the latest annual Car of the Year competition, coming fourth out of 10 contenders.”
But, back to the pronunciation of Kizashi. The esteemed Meyer is quite aware that it's a bit of a mouthful for some.
So the first 10 people who walk into either his Suzuki Johannesburg South or West Rand dealership and correctly pronounce the name to one of the staff will score R200.
But while you're there mouthing the term “Key-zah-shee” I strongly suggest you kick the tyres of a Kizashi. Maybe take one for a spin. I'm willing to wager that you'll be more than a little awed by this big Suzuki.
iX Online Motoring