Apparently, the new 500C Abarth gets softer suspension than the hatch in order to make it appeal to women buyers, who currently make up a minority of the brand’s buyers.
Now, I think the idea of designing cars for women works in many ways. They’re a huge force in the market and therefore it would be ridiculous not to take them into account when putting together any mass-produced vehicle.
But when it’s announced that a sports car has been made softer to appeal to women, it makes no sense.
I know many women who have no interest in cars at all. Most of them want a Fiat 500 with the same yearning that they otherwise reserve for the bloke in the Davidoff advert and 200g bars of Galaxy. If you mentioned ride quality their thoughts would probably revert to said Davidoff hunk, and certainly not to torsion beams.
I also know many women who like fast cars. They all want anything ranging from a Ford SportKa up to a Bugatti Veyron via the Lotus Elise, BMW M5 and everything wearing a prancing horse.
If they test drive something and decide the ride is unbearable, it’s just as likely that a bloke would come to the same conclusion.
My point is very simple.
Make cars for women. That’s great. If you want to make a sports car for women, that’s also great, but don’t assume that they’re only buying a sports car for its looks and therefore neuter the ‘sports’ part in case it scares off the oestrogen. A genuinely decent portion of women are choosing cars because they like performance in the same as any male enthusiast does.
Or another scenario. If you make a successful hot hatch that lots of people like but has been criticised for its completely unforgiving ride (by men and women, I’m sure), don’t alter the suspension because it desperately needed it and then claim it’s to make it more lady-friendly. It won’t fool anyone.