The annual SEMA show in Las Vegas is not typically a feminist hotbed. Unless you are into aftermarket auto parts — and some of us very much are — it’s not even a very female-friendly place. There are plenty of women there, but it’s an industry-only show. The public is not invited. So all the women are working, as company reps, as journalists, or as booth babes in hot pants. Yup. Still.
So it’s kind of refreshing that Mazda brought some cars to the convention center that have a huge emphasis on high-end design rather than on racer-boy aesthetics. These cars are in no way dumbed down from a performance standpoint, but they are classed up considerably. And the language Mazda is using to describe these super hot, super fast cars is directed right at you, ladies. And not in a bad way.
Take the Mazda Vector 3 concept. The press release calls the paint Soul Red, “as sultry and intense as the certain little black dress that takes your breath away.” The description goes on:
Although a pattern inspired from the runways of the fashion elite, the Vector 3 hones its attitude from the world of active lifestyle and performance wear. Fitting like a stylish pair of cross-trainers, the Vector 3 offers little fuss but commands plenty of attention.
I have some grammar issues with that first sentence, but I do not have issues with the fact that Mazda seems to understand that women car buyers want performance and high-end design as much as men buyers do. They seem to understand at some kind-of-awkward-but-well-meaning level that many women like being sexy and being active in equal measure. I give that a “Huzzah! Mostly.”
Designers Zac Posen and Thom Browne have gussied up two already fancy 2014 Infiniti Q50 sports sedans to be sold on Gilt.com just in time for the holidays, on December 12.
Thom Browne’s car is a subtle chrome with red, white, and blue seats and sterling silver interior accents. This car is not for the shy, the unpatriotic (of either US or UK persuasion), or those who hate to see their reflections distorted in a fender on the daily. It also comes with fitted luggage in the trunk and a solid silver personal card case with red, white, and blue stripe.
Zac Posen’s car is an ombre silver-to-gray number with red velvet, shagreen, and leather interior. (If this were a men’s car site, I would explain that shagreen is a pebbly leather, but you know that without my having to spell it out.) It comes with a red smartphone clutch.
Each of these stunners is $75,000, with a portion of the proceeds (but not all the proceeds. We’re not that into the spirit of giving) going to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. If that’s a bit steep for your holiday list, you can get just the card holder for $650 or just the smartphone clutch for $250. They’re both limited editions, though, so get in the Gilt line fast.
You can also, of course, just get a regular old 2014 Infinit Q50, which looks pretty cool even without getting the designer makeover. It starts at $36,700 and comes in a hybrid version, too.
Corvette people have been all aflutter in anticipation of the new Corvette, as they are with every new iteration of the iconic car. I mean, the Corvette has been around since 1953, the same year color TV started broadcasting. Do not fuck this up, Chevy.
The 2014 Corvette Stingray that I drove on the Northwest Automotive Press Association‘s Run to the Sun event on a sunny September day was not fucked up, but it toed that line. Really close. One more menacing flange, one more crisp fold in the bodywork, one more LED, and this car would be completely over the top. Gaudy. Too much. Trying to hard. Even the Chevy guy agreed — the Stingray flirts being too much to take in.
But it looks straight-up cool. I checked with a twenty-something guy working the hotel desk where we stayed to make sure that was true. He was wandering the parking lot taking pictures of the twenty-some sports cars we’d driven into Sisters, Oregon, while most of the auto journalists were finishing their little peach cobblers and ordering another round of drinks. I was taking pictures too, because the light was good. This guy agreed that the car is close to being obnoxious, but as it sat in the parking lot, he couldn’t take his eyes off it. In a good way.
Oh, and it goes like stink, if you need to be reassured of that. It’s got 460 horsepower in its V8 engine. This car came with power everything, including heated mirrors, HD radio, vented seats (which were welcome on record-setting hot September days), and a heads-up display projected low on the windshield that showed not only the speedometer but also a g-meter so you’d know how hard you were being thrown around when you took corners at speed. I did my best, much to the Chevy guy’s chagrin. Chances are, if you see one of these in the near future, what you’ll see first are these:
2014 Corvette Stingray
- 17 mpg city/29 mpg highway
- Additional equipment: LT Preferred package, with HD radio, premium audio, nav system, etc.
- Price as tested: $77,515
I don’t have much to say about this Aston Martin concept other than we should all take a moment to look at it. It’s a pretty radical, modern design meant to celebrate a hundred years of Aston heritage.
“They” say women don’t care about horsepower and cool cars and whatever, but I defy you to not be at least a little interested in a car that looks like this, even if only as a piece of art to love, hate, and discuss.
Every year for more than a decade, Mini has donated a special edition car to the Vienna Life Ball. This year, designer Roberto Cavalli will put his stamp on the Mini Paceman, the newest model in the Mini lineup.
In sketches, Cavalli has shown iridescent black-brown paint that changes color depending on the viewing angle and a roof with his logo writ large. The designer, who staged the fashion show at the Life Ball in 2001, also upgraded the interior to his designer’s standard.
The car will be auctioned on May 25, with proceeds going to projects that help prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS, as always. Mini has already raised more than a half million euros for the Life Ball through the annual auction.