A Tale of Two Autos and the Dangers of Marketing to Women

Pictured, along I Street NW, Washington DC just now, are two cars that give me a serious case of the hots. The obvious, the black Jaguar F-Type convertible, is easily the prettiest sub-$100k new car I've ever seen. It is sleek, modern, but also very classic. The car has all the sharp lines one would expect from IKEA furniture, but it looks as sturdy as a handmade Amish bedframe, and as nimble as a housefly. The car looks to be a wonderful combination of looks, ability, grace, style and - shockingly enough - relative economy. There are plenty of boring old SUVs parked along this same street with higher MSRPs and lower MPGs.

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Behind it, the humble Subaru CrossTrek. An outdoorsy-styled crossover vehicle. Practical, sturdy...Subaru tends to make quality, if not flashy cars. The interior is decidedly on the "Spartan" side, but it's functional, easy-to-clean - perfect for the young, outdoorsy single person, or for small families who want a stylish station wagon/family van that doesn't scream "STATION WAGON!!!! FAMILY VAN!!!!"

But that Jaguar...just look at it. It practically exudes lust; each angle and graceful curve as sexy as a mid-90s Laetitia Casta photoshoot. It begs to be driven, much like I wished the aforementioned Ms. Casta would beg me to ride her back in the mid-90s.

Alas, neither of those outcomes seem reasonable, and for that, I blame my wife. And...my inability to effectively strike up conversations with French supermodels. For some reason, Victoria Secret models rarely fall for IT journeymen. Nor too do Jaguars fall into the hands of the unworthy.

The Subie, parked just inches away, also will remain an object of lust, though in a different manner. I maintain that it's healthy for a man to lust after many types of women - various shapes, sizes, colors - it prevents fetishistic tendencies and keeps one grounded. Realistic. I can find the obvious beauty in blonde, tall Heather Graham and the incredibly sexy wit of shorter, brunetter Tina Fey. Different types, different models. Both lust worthy.

But why lust after the rather attainable CrossTrek when the F-Type is sitting RIGHT THERE - topless, to boot! The Brit...she wants me. She wants me BAD! The naughty, sexy bird versus the generic Japanese corporate girl. On one hand, it's Elizabeth Hurley wearing black satin and brown leather, panting. Wanting. Needing. A chance to see what in the HELL Hugh Grant was thinking when he went after Divine Brown. On the other hand, it's an attractive, but unspectacular, Japanese business woman, one of several million on the streets of Tokyo. Certainly nice enough, and probably well-mannered, but not *naughty.*

However, my wife won't let me have that one, either. Both the Subaru, Elizabeth Hurley and the Japanese Everywoman.

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See, Mrs. Smoak has the notion that Subarus are still the cars for outdoorsy, crunchy, granola girls and small-town New England innkeepers. And lesbians. To a degree, she does have a point - Subaru has openly courted the outdoor enthusiast market for years, and their ads aimed at WNBA fans are definitely more on the k.d. lang side of the spectrum than Carrie Underwood. She openly acknowledges that she's prejudiced against Subies - she'd rather I get the Scion FR-S than the Subaru BRZ. She'll buffer it by saying the Subaru standard feature list is lower than what one would find in a similarly-priced Hyundai or Ford, and the interiors are (admittedly) less-than-thrilling. She knows that Subaru makes a nearly-indestructible, affordable car, and that hasn't changed her stance one bit. She willingly ignores logic and fact in the face of some poorly-targeted advertisements.

The CrossTrek would be a great daily driver for me - get me to and from the subway station reliably and cheaply, and would tolerate my occasional jaunts to the river or ski slope with little complaint. And, it would last for a decade, easily, and will quickly make the transition from a family car to a rallycross car once I decide to lose my damned mind once and for all. But, nope. Nada. No way. Wife says "NYET."

Which leaves us the Jaguar. Less practical, less affordable, less realistic for us to buy anytime in the next three years, but yet, she'd rather pay the Jaguar premium. Note - she won't actually go in with me to buy one of these - we just bought a house and, well, we're broke as a joke. So, no Jaguar F - Type, either. But my God, it's a lovely beast.

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So, for now, I'll only have this picture. Motorweek versus Top Gear. Consumer Reports versus The Robb Report. Both taking up valuable pieces of my heart.

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But, at the end of the day, <clarkson>JAAAAAAAGGGGGG </clarkson>.

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