I was given a verbal broadside last week whilst eating with some friends. Jennifer asked "why don't you write about women's cars?". Hmm, alright Jennifer, I will.
But is there even a woman's car? Is there a man's car? I think there's just cars and then from that point there are cars certain people like more than other cars. All cars are created unequal in the marketing room down at HQ. One thing the Geneva Marketing Exec. will point out is that women actually have a far bigger impact on car choice than most men will like to admit. Mr. Man may want a large coupe but Mrs. Woman may think a hatchback is easier for manoeuvrability around town. Likewise if Mrs Woman wants that funky Fiat 500 Mr. Man will want the super fast Abarth version and she'll say that's a waste of cash; as in "who cares about an engine anyway?" The result in this typical situation will be an argument followed by the purchase of a crummy four door saloon. "Why have just two doors when you can have four?!". Life is about more than value propositions. "Buy one get one free" doesn't mean you need to buy that "one" to begin with. I'm straying here, let's get back to woman's cars.
Now before the equality council rush at me let me just say that women look cool in pretty much any car on the planet. For example even in the flashest, gruntiest cabriolet on the market a woman will still look way cooler than a man ever can because the world will look at the creature behind the wheel and admire her ability to handle such a beast. If a man tries the same feat they just attract suspicions of impotency. At the same though I've driven with enough females by now that I have discovered some home truths (hang on feminists!):
Women like to see everything around the car. This has led to a surge in needlessly tall vehicles which have proven wildly popular with women, think Nissan Qashqai and Land Rover Freelander. Blind spots are out; therefore so are rear spoilers, estate cars, blocky window pillars and any vehicle longer than 8 feet.
Vanity will never get in the way of manoeuvrability. You can buy a woman a Ferrari Enzo for her birthday and she'll secretly hate you for not getting her a Mini instead. If it can't be parallel parked like a shopping trolley it's not worth owning.
Performance means nothing. 500 bhp? Pointless. Rear wheel drive? Don't even ask. Mid-engined? That means the boot is not where it's meant to be. I've never met a woman who wanted more power than is necessary to get up a steep hill in 1st gear. The associated fuel bill will add further disapproval.
When it comes to looks; less is more. To women alloy wheel are nothing more than components to keep tyres connected to the car. Aggressive front ends are simply that: aggressive, and unnecessarily so too. Colour, incredibly, will have a far bigger influence on a woman's desire for a car than any other component. Show a woman the same car in black and red and she will be adamant that they are different cars altogether.
Now through the process of elimination we can begin to see what a perfect woman's car might be like. It will be small, frugal, nimble and subtly attractive, maybe in red or white. Think Volvo C30; Audi TT or Fiat 500. At the same time though there are woman out there pining for a something stereotypically masculine-aggressive like a Lamborghini LP640 in stealth black. There is no "woman's" just like there is no "man's car but if you have all the money in the world to buy your loved one a car in January buy her the new Range Rover Evoque.
Due for release in the new year the Evoque is cute, tall, easy to manoeuvre, petite (in a vulgar SUV way), frugal and available in white. The fact that Range Rover, the 4 wheel drive experts, have made available a 2wd vehicle says everything about how & why this car was created.
Deep breath... "let the equality council in!"