x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

The Air Bag: Difference between sexes is like driving from Mars and Venus

Rolls-Royce has its hands full with the Bespoke programme, with men and women having entirely different views on vehicles.

I was having a short break this week with a co-worker and we started discussing the Rolls-Royce Bespoke programme, of all things. The British company will do just about anything to your new Phantom or Ghost that you want, be it a built-in picnic basket in the boot, custom upholstery or other accoutrements not normally offered for its cars. It's really up to your imagination; well, I suppose also your own pocketbook. But when you're buying a Rolls, as the saying goes, if you have to ask how much ...

We got to dreaming about having that bespoke option for our own cars; imagine if that programme was offered for any car on the market? Say you walked into a Honda dealership and were eyeing a new Accord or Civic, but there were a few items you felt were missing that would really round that car out nicely. "Certainly," the salesman would smile, "please sit down and we'll make them happen."

Of course, what's stopping us is the exhorbitant prices these features would command, kind of defeating the purpose of starting with a reasonably priced car. But what if it didn't cost much more? What would you want done by master craftsmen or electronics wizards or otherwise creative geniuses, carte blanche?

"I'd want a handbag holder," she said. Did I forget to mention that my friend is a woman? "And a soft carpet to protect my expensive shoes."

Hmmm, some things I wouldn't necessarily think about. Once back in the office, I decided to ask a few other people what they would get done for their own cars, and I started with another of the fairer sex.

"I'd want a kettle," said my female neighbour. "Not a coffee or tea maker, because you can't make a proper cuppa tea without a kettle.

"Oh, and a mini fridge for the milk, of course."

"I'd like a wardrobe in my car," piped up another woman nearby. "Something I can put some workout gear in, or comfortable shoes."

Interesting ideas, and things I wouldn't necessarily think about myself. I then turned to our deputy editor here in Motoring, Kevin Hackett. What would he want different for his own car?

"A set of wings," he said gruffly. It's notable that he drives in every day from Dubai to the Abu Dhabi office and back again.

"Or, I'd like adjustable suspension and a throatier exhaust."

Our Review editor - who is also male - was pensive for a bit (as you'd expect from a Review editor), then had some other ideas.

"I've always wanted an ejector seat," he said in a relaxed English accent. "Just like James Bond. And maybe a rotating licence plate holder, so you can change them to avoid the speed cameras."

Obviously, men and women have differing opinions on what they want out of their daily drives. The key for car makers - pie-in-the-sky bespoke options notwithstanding - is to make a car that appeals to both sexes, on many levels. As you can read here, it might not be as easy as it sounds.

Oh, and for my own car? I'd love to have a TFT video screen replace the analogue gauges, so I can download different setups and designs anytime I want - imagine having a futuristic digital readout one day and a replica of a 1968 Jaguar E-Type setup the next. Maybe some nice teak trim with some hidden mood lighting and a starlight roof liner, making it look like a night sky.

And, of course, I'll need a turbocharger and adjustable suspension.