Opinion

VW Beetle and Mini Cooper – Are they really GIRLY Rides?

Every Car ever built has always rolled out with a unique persona. While some cars (or their drivers) made a very mean and muscular appearance, some looked like wheels with attitude while the other had a very small voice that was ruled by the middle classes. Seemingly enough came gender specific cars that were somehow considered a myth.

Let us mull over the myth to uncover the truth.

“Chick’s” no matter where you see them, on a two wheeler or a car. You might either keep your distance or follow them for obvious reasons. The “Chick Cars” blossomed up in the automobile industry with a gender label. Cars that looked cute and tiny were usually considered chick cars. However, the recent facts negate such erroneous statements. Let us look at two cars that have unfathomably created a Girly Status in the Automobile Market. VOLKSWAGEN BEETLE: THEN: It started off with not such a smooth beginning. Ideated by Adolt Hitler in 1924 (uncanny connection right?) While in prison, conceived the idea of giving German’s a relief from unemployment, which gave rise to a mass production of the people’s car (Volkswagen; that means peoples car in German) The idea of building a car started way back in 1933, was supposed to be designed for the average man. However, the problems had only begun, because till the year 1938, the car designs were not finalized. During 1939, post war, the rear engine, rear wheel drive, economy cars that could accommodate two adults and three kids that could hit a speed of 100 kmph with much regard to the costs (£86) came into existence. Initially the car was named Type I soon after which, the car was named “Beetle

[caption id="attachment_785" align="aligncenter" width="1500"]Adolf Hitler with His beetle. Adolf Hitler with His beetle. Image Source: www.photosofwar.net[/caption] People disregarded the looks during the 1960-70’s. Beetle’s were very durable and considered very cheap (cost and service). It was during the 90’s when the beetle went feminine. The bug shaped car was the talk (well, gossip to be more girly and specific) of the entire girly community. The gender based cars were much more evident and the men developed taste for muscle, sporty and mean looking cars, leaving the frivolous beetle to the (then) other gender. It was generally noted that girls in various movies belonging to sororities had beetles and that might have been the reason behind the entire girly build-up. NOW: Males like sport cars and muscles that roar. Men generally like cars like the Ferrari, Lamborghini, Bugatti, Pagani etc.  The New Beetle’s had however, broken the perception chain that men had over the bug shaped car. With the Volkswagen group’s primary focus hooked onto sales and their eyes glued onto men, the 2012 beetle model looked sporty (unlike the previous cute and sexy girly version)
[caption id="attachment_794" align="aligncenter" width="800"]Volkswagen Beetle India Volkswagen Beetle India
Image Source: Indiandrives.com[/caption]   Volkswagen’s strategy had completely changed, the ads were manly, and the looks of the car were masculine. Surprisingly, beetle had male buyers. Out of the total beetle sales since September 2011, the new (2012) beetle had a massive 49% masculine buyers list. Volkswagen was smart enough to understand the psychology of men. Masculinity was advertised through the turbocharged models (men drool over turbo charged models) THE CAR: Stretching 168.4 inches in length and 71.2 inches in width, the New Beetle (2012) had its engine adopted from small cars such as the VW Golf. The vehicle had a powerful engine (170 horse power) than most of the cars, delivered 177Nm torque. There were optional variants introduced too, there were turbo charged models like; the 2 liter turbocharged, 4 cylinder model that had 200 hp and delivered 207 Nm torque whereas the 2 liter turbo-diesel model that came in later as yet another option had 140 hp and delivered 236 Nm torque.
[caption id="attachment_786" align="aligncenter" width="1035"]Evolution of Beetle Evolution of Beetle
Image Source: www.digitaltrends.com[/caption] WHEN THE BUG BECAME DESI: Although Volkswagen stated that its New Beetle model would stick onto the base on which these cars were built. “Remain affordable to a large portion of the population”. India somehow remained indifferent to this fact. Most of the Indian sport car lovers would stop whatever they do for a while just to witness a sports car roar by. The Volkswagen beetle was treated in the same manner. Well, who wouldn’t stare at this exorbitantly priced bug right? .
[caption id="attachment_788" align="aligncenter" width="800"]India Welcomes VW Beetle. Image Source www.indiandrives.com India Welcomes VW Beetle
Image Source: www.indiandrives.com[/caption] The Volkswagen Beetle, India starts at Rs. 21.23 lakhs (Ex-Showroom Price Delhi) No matter who drives the beetle (man or woman) the bug is certain to gain attention over the bumpy Indian roads. A “MINI”CONTENDER: THEN: Termed as one of the most iconic vehicles of the 1960’s belonging to a racing car origin, Mini Cooper was taken over by BMW (Bayerische Motor Works) and re-launched in the year 2000, by rolling out 2 variants; the Cooper and the Cooper S. The Mini Cooper was originally developed by the British Motor Company (BMC) and designed by Sir Alex Issigonis in the 1950’5. Fuel crisis was reaching an all time high and the demand for fuel-efficient cars was soaring up. Hence, the mini came into action. The mini was developed as a two door, 4-cylinder engine car. Mini or otherwise known as Mark I was associated with other prevailing brands such as Morris Minor and Austin. 1960 proved to be a fruitful year for Mini, which launched a new member in the mini family, the Mini II, that featured a new grille and classier looks.
[caption id="attachment_789" align="aligncenter" width="433"]Old Mini Old Mini
Image Source: www.automobilesdeluxe.tv[/caption] It was later that John Cooper of the Cooper Car Company, who put the potential of the Mini’s at best use. Hence, the motor sports versions namely; Mini Cooper and Mini Cooper S were launched in 1961 and 1963 respectively. These racing machines sported 848 and 1071 cc engines respectively. The mini’s kept their cool ever since and were considered sporty. The popular movie Ïtalian Job” relied on Mini Coopers to successfully pull off a heist, creating a special place in the minds of men. It was during the 1980’s when the brand license was sold to Spanish and Italian Car manufacturers. This resulted in newer and better-looking models. Soon after, Rover Group (currently under TATA) owned the rights of Mini, sold them off to the German manufacturer popularly known as BMW. Ever since, the mini has been a mini part of BMW Group.  
[caption id="attachment_790" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]Old & New mini Cooper Old & New Mini
Image Source: www.sfcitizen.com[/caption] NOW: The mini looks a tad better than the beetle. Although even the mini is labeled a girly car, it had a reputation of being a sports car and the racing DNA still exists. Currently Mini has many variants of the hatchback available in various countries. In fact, even special edition classic cooper and cooper sports cars were rolled out. The mini still holds a retro chick design, which may or may not be desirable by a few men.
[caption id="attachment_791" align="aligncenter" width="700"]Mini Cooper India Mini Cooper India
Image Source: www. catazz.blogspot.com[/caption] The engine of the cooper has undergone a major overhaul, running on a Toyota diesel engine and bringing out new variants such as the convertibles and hatch models have expanded horizons for Mini. THE CAR: The car might seem mini and chick friendly, with all the girly colored cars seen on roads and seen on the Internet. However, a look under the hood would change your perspective. Although, being considered chick friendly, the driving experience is more towards the fun loving side over the racing and drifting kind. The mini has push interiors and a cool look, to top it all up the mini is safe (Youtube has various lady driver videos; if you know what I mean J) with 6 ABS airbags and a Brake Assist, safety is ensured (phew) The Cooper S is a sporting hit that comes with a 1.6- liter four cylinder engine that has been turbo charged proudly boasting its 184 BHP high performance engine that produces 240 Nm torque. The racing machine can cover 0-100 in 6.8 seconds*. However, the manual transmission models aren’t available in India. WHEN MINI WENT MAXI: The Mini carries a cute and girly image. However, this ride just like the Volkswagen Beetle; comes at a hefty price tag too. With a starting range of Rs. 23.70 Lakhs (Ex-Showroom Delhi), the Mini (available and priced according to variants in India) goes as heavy as 36.50 Lakhs on your pocket or purse. BOTTOM LINE:
[caption id="attachment_792" align="aligncenter" width="898"]Mini & Beetle Mini & Beetle
Image Source: www.autoevolution.com[/caption] Beetle Commercial: Mini Commercial: For a price ranging from 23- 36.50 lakhs + margin, it doesn’t really matter if you are a man or a woman. The price certainly removes the gender bias. These cars certainly managed to create awe in the Indian market through their looks. However, both the companies need to reconsider the pricing 🙂 Bottom Line: Although the looks and the general belief might have deceived you, The Volkswagen Beetle and the Mini Cooper aren’t girly cars. They are powerful machines that come in small packages. Visit the Volkswagen Website: www.volkswagen.co.in Visit the Mini Website: www.mini.in  

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A wanderlust, a foodie, an amateur photographer and a die hard automobile enthusiast. Gifted with the art of playing with words (and sentences) I've been writing (initially started with satirical writing) for a couple of years. Meet me on a good day and i'll definitely narrate my story (with a cup of tea and hopefully some delicious pakoda's) on how writing scripted my life. Happy reading :)