A Girl Writes – It’s a Boy/Girl Thing

In the first of her articles for EngageSportMode, ESM’s OH discusses whether or not there is such a thing as a “girl’s car”.
During ESM’s recent and well documented quest for his new investment, there have been mutterings, generally from ESM’s Mate Steve, about “girl’s cars” and which models ESM should avoid, lest he be branded as owning such. But what on earth is a “girl’s car” and why are certain models labelled with this gender stereotype? Granted there will be certain models that were designed with the fairer sex in mind but, to my limited knowledge, this label is just a chauvinistic outlook on underpowered and boring cars.

Now, I am a girl. Does this therefore mean that due to my sex I am destined to a life of small practical cars, housing tiny engines with fewer horses than a budget beef burger? Can I not be trusted to responsibly own and operate a more exciting car? Just to clarify this is not me having a feminist rant. I completely agree that many female drivers should not be allowed anywhere near a car, much less drive one, and I frequently find myself ranting like a lunatic on my daily commute about “stupid, bloody, women drivers”. But why should the poor unsuspecting vehicle have to suffer the detrimental label? Well let’s find out. Is there such a thing as a “girl’s car” or is it just a fictitious motoring swear word?

I firmly believe that both performance and appearance are crucial elements in determining the “girl’s car”. From what I understand from my male counterparts, the offending model must have: limited performance, be sensible with the least amount of gadgetry possible, safe, reliable, and must be either so aesthetically plain that you would easily overlook it, a convertible, or pink. I could name a list a mile long of contenders for this title, but for now, here are five:

1. Vauxhall Corsa

Since 1982 (previously known as the Nova), this boring looking car has been a real hit with the ladies. Obviously I’m not discussing any modified turbocharged versions, or the Nürburgring Edition, as that would be cheating but the bog standard 1.0 – 1.4 petrol models, with bhp varying from 57 to 89. The interior is 50 shades of grey plastic and less buttons than a standard microwave. Very simple and practical and just what the modern woman wants. Not too small, relatively reliable and the newer models are better looking than their older counterparts. But no matter which way you slice it, the Corsa is such a boring car.

Verdict: Definitely qualifies, but what does that mean for the generation of teenage boys bombing around in their pre-2000 models? You see the dilemma in making such a bold statement. Moving on…

2. Peugeot 206CC

Basically a 206 with the roof lopped off. The interior is as bland as the standard model, even with the leather seats. For a convertible, there is, surprisingly, space to swing a cat so you could still squeeze your kids in without too much complaint. For a small car it has a decent engine, which I know goes against the “girl’s car” specification, but then you remember it’s a convertible and it’s right back in the running. Looks wise, it’s not a million miles away from the 2011 Golf Cabrio which is quite a cool car so all in all, not a bad little investment.

Verdict: The 206 is a “semi-girl’s car” which would mean the 206CC, by default, is probably a “girl’s car” but you may be forgiven by your mates down the pub for owning one, eventually.

3. Ford StreetKa

In 2003, a convertible model of the already hideous looking Ka appeared. Ford went one ludicrous step further a year later and released a pink edition of this stupid “cute” car. Needless to say, I am not a fan of the Ka. It’s too small, looks awful and handles like an oversized baked bean tin. However, the interior is not all that bad, even in the regular model Ka’s. You can see why it would appeal to certain female drivers, namely hairdressers, beauty therapists and Justin Bieber fans (or all of the above). The StreetKa is not very practical space-wise and would therefore just be a low-grade show car at best. It might not tick every single box but I think, in this instance, the rule book can be well and truly chucked out the window.

Verdict: An unequivocal “girl’s car”. No man should ever be seen dead driving a StreetKa. Period.

4. Fiat 500

The new “on trend” car of the moment, still. Available in a variety of bright crayon-esque colours, who could not love the Fiat 500? Me, for one. However, this is not about me and I do believe this car has become very much a “girl’s car”. I ask you, when was the last time you saw a man driving a 500? This goes for both the hatchback and convertible versions. For a model that brands itself on being exciting and “out there”, the interior is very Fiat, with minimal aesthetic qualities and large, flat expanses of cheap looking plastic. But why would you want anything more? It’s simple, straight forward and wipe clean. It’s not the quickest, but then it’s fairly economical. It’s not bad space wise and it’s a sensible little car that doesn’t draw too much attention, unless you get two-tone clashing paint colour options.

Verdict: I don’t like it, but many women do, so therefore a definite “girl’s car”.

5. Volkswagen Polo

Now I must tread carefully here as, given ESM’s love of Polo’s, I may get lynched for potentially labelling it as a “girl’s car”. But this is what sparked the debate in the first place. Now I personally think of the Polo as a bit of a hairdresser’s car, all show, if that, and no go, much like the Ka above. But if the definition of a “girl’s car” supplied earlier is to be believed, then this would be a definite contender. It is fairly good looking without any frills, with practical storage space and is spacious inside. The light power steering makes even the trickiest manoeuvres easy peasy and, as stated by ESM himself in his End of the Road article, “anyone could get in and drive it”.

Verdict: Does it not therefore stand to reason that based on these facts, Mr John has been driving a “girl’s car” for the past year or so? I will let you be the judge of that. [No! – Mr John]

As with most things, there are exceptions to the rules. So if you really have your heart set on owning any one of the aforementioned cars, but are concerned with the grief that may come with it, here are some options that may help. If you have the finances to do so that is:

Vauxhall Corsa – VXR Nürburgring Edition. 1.6L turbo (207bhp).
Peugeot 206) – (non CC) GTi 180, 2.0L (175bhp).
Ford StreetKa – Nope, don’t even bother.
Fiat 500 – 500 Abarth, 1.4L turbo, (135bhp) or Esseesse (160bhp).
VW Polo – Polo GTi, 1.4L TSI (180bhp) or Polo R Line, 1.2L TSI (105bhp)

It would appear then that “girl’s cars” do exist. So if you are concerned about keeping your manhood and motoring credibility intact, then you would do well to avoid examples such as those above. There is absolutely nothing wrong with these cars and like most things, are matters of personal preference and lifestyle needs. But they do provide an insight into how the “girl’s car” myth came into being and why women may favour certain makes and models. Some men have no interest in motoring and will pick vehicles purely for the same practical reasons a lot of women do. Conversely,  some women have an appreciation for cars that may mean expelling practicality for something completely ridiculous just for the thrill of it. Whichever way your bread is buttered when it comes to motoring, do what makes you happy. Just stay away from Ford Ka’s.

ESM’s Other Half.

Photo Credits: CruiseWestCumbria.co.uk, wikimedia.org, netcarshow.com

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