Give us a brake lads, we know our motors

Women were first at the gate for last week's new registration cars, so why are they still treated like imbeciles?

The salesman in the garage sighed patiently. "They never want red or white," he says, shaking his head. "But they're a lot more focused than the men; know exactly what they want before they even walk in." Really? "Mmm. Which is strange because usually they can never make up their minds when they're shopping, can they?" He smiles brightly. "Anyway, was it a nippy runaround you were looking for, madam?"

It's a wonder women bother to drive. Draped over cars to flog them to men and mocked for their skills behind the wheel, it's never been an easy ride. Men are still deeply critical of a woman's driving ability. According to a new survey carried out by Duckhams Oils, 21 per cent of women feel less confident with a male passenger in the car and 50 per cent feel men should be less judgmental about their driving. Personally, I'd rather stick pins in my eyes than allow my boyfriend space in the passenger seat. The last time we got into a car, I'd barely reached the end of the road before he started shrieking "STOP, STOP!" and curling up into that telltale foetal position as soon as I touched the accelerator. All I'd done was turn right at a busy junction. His excuse is that he doesn't feel safe when I'm driving despite the fact I've never crashed - and he has.

We know women are more sensible drivers, that they are involved in less drink-and-drive accidents and that they drive far less recklessly. Even so, women drivers are viewed as a joke. Women parking? Snigger. Fixing a flat tyre? You can't be serious.

Yet they are now fierce car consumers, buying 42 per cent of the 2.2m cars sold. Last week, the new registration plates were launched, which will see a boom in car sales. According to Mercedes-Benz, women have shown particular interest in its convertibles - 45 per cent of its range is bought by women - an 11 per cent increase on last year. There's also a big female market for the Mazda MX-5. BMW says more than one-third of its Z3 convertible buyers are women - 10 per cent higher than its other models. Women are also snapping up Volkswagen's new object of desire, the remodelled Beetle. According to VW's PR manager, Wayne Bruce, "If you're in a VW Beetle, it's amazing how many women ask questions about it. I assume they love the design; it's curvy, cute, non-threatening." It's also got a flowerholder - a retro touch from the original Beetle. "I don't want to sound patronising, though," adds Bruce. "It's as appealing to men - Arnie Schwarzenegger has bought one!"

Women and cars are a rapid growth market; in 1997, they bought 750,000 new cars compared with 660,000 10 years ago. Car salesmen have picked up on this - one I spoke to admitted women were more informed than men. "Men see cars like train sets and want to talk about gadgets. Women want a car for a particular purpose and are more decisive."

If only the magazine publishers were so enlightened. Worse than the old jokes are the latest attempts at women's car magazines. The two women- only car magazines currently in the shops make driving a car seem as sexy as unblocking the kitchen sink.

One, Ignition, reads like a bizarre hybrid of What Car? and Good Housekeeping. Its summer issue free gift? Marigold gloves. There's a spread on baby seats and a beauty page, featuring "Cosmetic essentials for your glovebox" (sample quote: "For eyes that stop traffic, forget struggling with eyelash curlers"). And now there's the first issue of Your Car, a joint product of Prima and What Car? In a celebrity interview with Ulrika, she talks about how "frightening" it is to drive at 100mph on the motorway.

Maybe these mags would have more success with men, marketed as Viz meets Loaded in Halfords. Just take the feature in this issue of Ignition, which goes, "Breasts. A women's best friend, perhaps, but a damned nuisance when it comes to strapping yourself into your car. Although if the worst comes to the worst, those DD cups will act as nature's airbags." Jeremy Clarkson couldn't have put it better himself.

The cartoon produced by Bruce MacKinnon for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on Thursday, showing the bronze soldiers of the war memorial in Ottawa welcoming Corporal Cirillo into their midst
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into disastrous conflicts
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
One bedroom terraced house for sale, Richmond Avenue, Islington, London N1. On with Winkworths for £275,000.
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Life and Style
Text messaging changes as a relationship evolves
The comedian, 42, made the controversial comment following the athlete’s sentencing to five years for the culpable homicide of Reeva Steenkamp on Tuesday
peopleComedian's quip about Reeva Steenkamp was less than well received at music magazine awards
Cristiano Ronaldo in action for Real Madrid
peoplePerformer had recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    SSRS Report Developer - Urgent Contract - London - £300pd

    £300 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: SSRS Report Developer – 3 Mon...

    KS1 Teacher

    £95 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Key Stage 1 teacher require...

    HR Business Partner - Essex - £39,000 plus benefits

    £32000 - £39000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Man...

    Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...

    Day In a Page

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
    Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

    'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

    The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
    Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

    Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

    A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
    The 10 best smartphone accessories

    Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

    Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

    Liverpool v Real Madrid

    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
    West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?