Chick cars for men
What makes a car a "chick car"? They're usually on the small side, and/or cute. That doesn't seem like much of a brush to tar them all with, but they don't have much more in common than that. They are sometimes wimpy, but some of them really handle like the dickens. According to an old Forbes article (from 2007, right around the time the term was coined), they're cars that would "make your drinking buddies laugh out loud."
But a confident man can drive any damn thing he pleases, and there are some so-called chick cars that offer a pretty alluring combination of performance, fun factor, and some other boring things like value and safety.
Here are five cars any man should be proud to drive.
Range Rover Evoque: Described in the London Telegraph as "a bit of a big girl's blouse," the Evoque is in fact a quite capable off-roader with city-friendly dimensions and civilized on-road manners. But I'll admit that having a "q" in its name does make it a bit girly, in the way that all words that seem overtly French are a bit girly. Starting at $46,995, it comes in three or five-door form; if you do go for the former, you should definitely stay away from calling it a coupé. And don't get the Colima Lime metallic paint either. It handles well, draws perfectly fine pep from a 2.0L 4-cylinder with 240 hp and a nice 6-speed autobox complete with rally-style paddle shifters on the steering wheel. Nothing girly ‘bout that.
Volvo S60: Yes, Volvos are a bit girly. But don't let that stop you. The S60 (from $38,300), offers a "sport" chassis setting for when you're trying to impress us, and a "comfort" setting for when you're alone. We don't expect you to get all excited about the numerous safety features (including standard City Safety), but you might get excited about a downright sexy interior including centre console that's a work of art (at least, if you're a man with taste). Adaptive cruise with Queue Assist and Distance Alert should leave sufficient attention available to close those big deals on your fancy smartphone. And it's got a very respectable turbocharged 250-hp 5-cylinder with 266 lb-ft of torque.
Mazda MX-5: It may be the quintessential chick car, but you can't buy better-handling top-down fun for $28,995. It's still one of the all-time great roadsters, and you won't care that about its only drawback is a lack of trunk space. Somehow, you all manage to go away for a week with only a toothbrush, one pair of underwear and an expired Visa card anyway. Now nearly 25 years old, the MX-5 is still cool, whichever change room you use. If you're a big ‘un, you may find it a tad on the snug side. If you've an appreciation for fine design, you'll love the soft-top. You'll also enjoy the 2.0L 4-cylinder with 167 hp that will take you to 100 km/h in an enjoyable 7 or so seconds.
Fiat 500: Yes, it's small, and yes, it's cute. OK, it's a chick car. But now there's the Abarth, with all those pretty scorpion badges. A turbocharger breathed 160 hp and 170 lb-ft of torque into it. That's nearly 60% more horses than the regular 500. Outside, its cuteness is (minimally) mitigated by a restyled front air dam and rear valance; inside, there's a fat flat-bottomed steering wheel and restyled shifter. The suspension is sport-tuned and the electronic power steering tweaked. In black, it almost looks manly.
Mini Cooper Cabriolet: The Coop's status as a chick car is oft-debated, but throw in a soft-top and most of us agree - she's a she. She still handles beautifully, though, and offers mad fun and good fuel economy, as well as the inimitable John Cooper Works package. Just try it. You'll like it. Those who know cars will be impressed with your good taste, and the chicks will love you for it. The Mini Cooper Classic starts at $21,950, and the family now includes the Clubman, Countryman (see? MAN, not Countrywoman and Clubwoman), a coupe, a roadster, and an assortment of Special Editions with girly English names. Whoops!