Cars that win a woman's heart
Why do some cars particularly appeal to women drivers? It's a great question, and if all manufacturers could crack the magic ingredient of the answer to that question, they'd be flying.
Let's just say it's a woman's sense of design, or fun or even good old-fashioned practicality. There are a whole variety of reasons why some cars are loved by women and others are less favoured.
But with women an increasingly powerful force in the marketplace, they're not a group that any manufacturer can afford to ignore. This list (compiled in the UK) is by no means definitive - nor is it intended to be. Just because a car is listed amongst those favoured by either men or women doesn't mean that it isn't also often bought - and enjoyed - by members of the opposite sex.
We've simply listed the cars in this way because over time, for a multitude of reasons, they've come to be loved by women drivers. Want to disagree? Please do. Want to break the stereotype? Even better...
1 - NISSAN MICRA:
This is not going to be a list full of shopping cars or family runabouts. Women obviously enjoy style and speed as much as men.
However, it's hard to ignore such an overwhelming female preference as exists for Nissan's smallest offering. Surely men do drive Micras but you don't very often see it.
This car's 'toytown' looks found instant appeal and it almost helped that unusually, there were no 'GTi' or 'hot' versions in the course of its life. The third generation Micra carried on that tradition as does the MK4, launched earlier this year, with neat looks and an economical line-up.
2 - HONDA CR-V:
As we all know, 4x4s don't really make very much sense. Why lug all that heavy hardwear around if you're never going to use it? Yet even the most sensible and realistically-orientated 4x4 buyer won't want to loose all of the genre's virtues.
That high-set seating position for example. The chunky good looks. The practicality. And the all wheel drive option for those rare occasions when you really do need a bit of extra traction. Honda's CR-V offers all of these without all the heavy, serious 4x4 mechanicals that you'll probably never want.
It will never be much good for that mythical trip across the Serengeti that you'll almost certainly never take -a thought many men can't bear which is why they often won't buy it.
But for many sensible women, this car represents the ideal compromise.
3 - MAZDA MX-5:
The first affordable roadster and for many, still the best. The engines are bullet-proof and the handling entertaining. It's also well-built and well equipped and a very decent sense of styling. The metal-folding roof Coupe Cabriolet version carries a lot of weight in return for provision of its clever top. An affordable yet stylish motor.
4 - PEUGEOT 207 CC:
It all started with the Mercedes SLK. That Swiss army knife-style electric folding roof was the ultimate fashion accessory in the very late Nineties, particularly amongst women - but it was one many couldn't afford. So fitting something similar to an affordable Peugeot 206 would have to be a sure-fire recipe for success - wouldn't it?
Well, yes and no. Many enthusiastic drivers disliked they way that the heavy roof conversion blunted the 206's lithe handling: still, the predominantly female audience for the car largely didn't care. The same is true of the 206 CC's successor, the 207CC.
5 - MERCEDES SLK:
Of course, it's always nice to have the genuine article - though it might be galling to know that for half the price, you could have bought a Peugeot 207 CC with exactly the same roof mechanism. Handling isn't up to the standard of rival top flight roadsters and the car feels somewhat uncomfortable with huge reserves of power. Still, the latest version launched in 2011 has looks to die for. The ultimate millionaire-to-mistress gift.
6 - BMW Z4:
Another German roadster with more pose value than ultimate handling excellence in its repertoire. And, as with the SLK, buyers seem either not to know or more likely, not to care. As with the Mercedes, the car isn't at its best in its bigger-engined forms, but unlike the Stuttgart car, the manual gearbox is a joy to use.
7 - MINI:
A runaway sales success - and deservedly so. This car has taken over from VW's Beetle as the ultimate affordable High Street fashion icon - and has a sharper, more hard-hitting image that seems to suit the woman about town.
If you don't care about speed, buy the Cooper version with the CVT automatic gearbox: great for urban use. If you love your driving and you've space in which to do it, you must try the potent Cooper S.
8 - LAND ROVER DISCOVERY 4:
This isn't a car women often choose - but it's often one they end up driving. It has seven-seat capability, so family men who can't bear the idea of succumbing to one of those MPV People Carriers often buy a Disco instead and delegate use of it to their wives for the school run. Drive past the gates of any many establishments in the country at 8.45am and you'll see them clogging up the pavements...
9 - VOLKSWAGEN BEETLE:
The original 'new' Beetle version now feels a bit old which is why VW has launched a redesigned version. But it's the car we first saw at the turn of the century that still attracts thousands of mainly female buyers on the used market. Who cares that it's built in Mexico. Or that Chelsea Clinton loves them. Expect all the usual VW virtues from something that still makes more practical sense than a MINI.
10 - TOYOTA YARIS:
Toyota's very first credible supermini has proved to be enormously successful, something that has continued with the most recent model, launched in Summer 2011. In a sea of look-alike rivals, it manages to feel distinctive, both inside and out. The styling has a 'pick-me-up-and-cuddle-me' feel to it without being as overt as say a Nissan Micra. The engineers have even allowed for a hybrid version. -Belfast Telegraph