Fury over Mii, the new 'female-friendly' car

Volkswagen subsidiary company, SEAT, in hot water over Cosmo UK car collaboration

Mii Seat car for women
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A marketing ploy for a ‘female-friendly’ car by Cosmopolitan UK and Spanish automotive manufacturer, SEAT, has gone, well, tits-up.

The duo teamed up to co-create the SEAT Mii by Cosmopolitan, a little purple hatch made just for women. And boy, has it got people talking.

Unveiled in London last week at Cosmopolitan’s #FashFest event, the “agile, exciting to drive and easy to park” car went through an 18-month co-creation program between SEAT, which is owned by Volkswagen, and Cosmopolitan’s global creative team, regional editors and readers.

The result? A compact car that makes driving, parking and stopping on a hill ‘easier’ for women, thanks to its small size, rear-parking sensors and “Hill Hold Control” technology.

 It’s available in two colours, ‘Violetto’ purple or ‘Candy White’ white.

Unfortunately, ‘Barbie Pink’ and ‘Lipstick Coral’ aren’t included in the colour line-up.

The SEAT press release also states the car’s “headlights have an ‘eyeliner’ shape, emphasized in the same way as make-up emphasizes the eye’” while the “jeweled, bi-colour alloy wheels” offer a “surprise sparkle”.

Cosmo for for women interior
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Surprisingly, the car, which will launch early 2017, is only available with a five-speed manual transmission. Yep, you read that right; women can drive manual cars.

In what is possibly the most unique and useful feature of the car, it also comes with a “smartphone cradle integrated into the dashboard” so your device is appropriately located when you connect to the app, “DriveMii” which allows the driver to control the infotainment system.

According to an interview with Campaign Live, SEAT’s global marketing director, Susanne Franz, “Cosmopolitan contributed to transforming the role of women in society and the Mii by Cosmopolitan aims to establish a fresh perspective on cars. It is a tribute to the modern woman.”

Just to clarify, by ‘woman’, they mean a consumer-group who only buys things that come in certain shades, with a low fat label, daily-routine conveniences (aka lipstick holders) and a free perfume.

In an article published on Cosmopolitan UK’s website, it stated Europe’s Cosmo readers wanted a car that is “an extension of themselves”, “agile”, “easy to park and drive” and “looks stylish and cool, and suits their personality”.  To which the magazine interpreted as “a place for impromptu karaoke performances, last-minute wardrobe changes, dramatic gossip sessions and emergency lunch-hour kips.”

The uproarious discussions from women and men around the world saw everyone turning to Twitter to find out whether this meant Cosmo and SEAT believed every other car made was only for men, in a bunch of hilariously sarcastic tweets.  

Seat Mii 1
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According to the video released by SEAT to show the inspiration behind the car, which outlines women accounted for 64 per cent of all urban cars purchased in Europe in 2015, Franz said “women prefer a smaller car.

They like much more of the maneuverability of a smaller car. And they pay much more attention to the design of a car.”

And in that, she’s not exactly wrong. But women are not the only ones who pay attention to the design of the car.

Actually, carrying extra clothing, conveniences, and car-karaoke sessions, are not women specific features.  

Remember this guy?

How about this adorable duo?

Or more famously, here’s a car full of men singing in a car. It event includes a wardrobe change:

The concept was simple, but not entirely entrepreneurial. They’re not the first carmaker to design a car specifically for women, and they won’t be the last.

There’s a long history of automakers marketing cars to women.

Lady-only cars include the pink and white Dodge LaFemme, or the 2000 Maytag and Ford Windstar minivan, which came complete with washing machine, microwave and vacuum (yeah, that was a thing).

Then there’s always the 2012 pink-everything Honda Fit She’s or the 2004 Volvo Your Concept Car.

The latter, however, got some things right. The tag line for the Your Concept Car was “by women for modern people”. It was a car designed by women that allowed the manufacturer to “Concentrate on the fast-growing group of women customers – without losing the men. Because I’m certain that our male customers will love this concept car”; a statement made at the time by Hans-Olov Olsson, President and CEO of Volvo Car Corporation.

Cosmo for for women family
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The release for this car said; “women customers in the premium segment want everything that men want in terms of performance, prestige and style. But they want more besides: smart storage solutions; a car that is easy to get in and out of; good visibility, a car you can personalize; minimal maintenance; a car that’s easy to park.”

So, aside from the whole ‘women can’t park’ thing, there are some manufacturers out there who get it.

As for the SEAT Mii by Cosmopolitan, we’re not yet sure if the car will also include extra mirrors to make doing your make-up at traffic lights easier, a lifetime supply of tampons, accelerator and brake pedals that make driving in heels easier and a flip-out ironing board, but we’ll get to take a look at SEAT’s “most female-focused car yet” when it’s showcased at the Paris Motor Show next week.

Cue squeals.

 

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Anna Kantilaftas
Journalist

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