We never knew we needed it, but we got it: Cosmopolitan recently revealed its new car collaboration designed exclusively for women. With pearlized exterior finishes and a motto Cyndi Lauper would love, the new Mii by Cosmopolitan is the result of a partnership between the leading women’s magazine and Spanish automaker SEAT. It’s been a few weeks since the big reveal, but Mii is not winning any popularity contests just yet. From Facebook to Twitter, critics are railing at everything from the car’s overly gender-specific design to its mockable marketing campaign. Meanwhile, those who have actually driven the Mii say it’s a surprisingly nice ride.
Mii by Cosmopolitan is a sassy hatchback that is meant to function as an extension of the person driving it. The car combines the youthful energy of the SEAT brand with the needs of the fashionable, active women that make up Cosmo’s readership. As such, the Mii aims to be compact, agile, and “easy to park and drive,” according to Cosmopolitan online. The car also sports design details like headlights with eyeliner detail, jewel-effect rims, and extra mirrors for fine-tuning one’s make-up, says CNN. SEAT’s specs site explains that the car is available in two colours, “Violetto” and “Candy White,” with champagne-coloured details inside and out. Interiors include champagne-finished air vents, infotainment system frames, and stitching throughout, as well as matte chrome details. The front footwells have aluminum strips sporting the phrase, “COSMOPOLITANlovesMii.”
So what’s wrong with all of this? On the surface, nothing, outside of unnecessarily glittery wheels and choosing a car to match your wine preference. However, bloggers and Twitter users of both sexes are unimpressed or downright offended by this Mii model’s marketing campaign. Many women have chimed in that the car’s tagline, “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” and its accompanying images of grown women riding carousels and sucking on lollipops are condescending. Critics are also upset that Cosmo claims the car will satisfy women’s needs “for impromptu karaoke performances, last-minute wardrobe changes, dramatic gossip sessions and emergency lunch-hour kips.” Many point out that this is not how most women choose or use their cars. Still others feel the campaign’s focus on the car being “easy to drive” is an insulting reference to women’s alleged inability to do so.
At the same time, testers at Topgear.com say that SEAT’s Mii, the original, plainer cousin and basis for Cosmo’s new baby, is actually a solid, fun little car. The sporty hatchback handles curves well, responds easily to a light touch, and is a more affordable response to Volkswagen’s popular Up city car. The Mii by Cosmopolitan built on the success of the original through a two-year design process, and with a lot of input from the magazine’s readers.
It’s important to keep in mind that this car was not designed for every woman, but for this very specific demographic. Perhaps, rather than focusing on its jerky marketing launch, we should be admiring the solid base car and the time and effort designers put into this special edition. SEAT wants to capture a younger market, and it may yet succeed. But the question still remains: do women really need this car? The answer is, probably not any more than they needed Ford’s 2000 Windstar that came with its own Maytag washer/dryer, microwave, and vacuum in the rear hatch.