I know…. but I adore camo,
Los Angeles is a city, where what you drive says as much about you as what you do, what you wear, where you live, or who you fuck. It is also a city that holds the old corporate work adage, ” dress for the job you want, not the job you have” to an automotive standard. I was thinking about this the other night while following a brand new Chrysler 200 heading West on Santa Monica Blvd out of Beverly Hills.
It is, to be sure, a very attractive car. Some might even call it pretty. In my estimation, it looks better from any of the usual rear angles, as the front leaves me a bit …meh. The front is fine, inoffensive, but basically boring. The interior – at least in the more upscale trim levels is nice, if not a bit overly swoopy for my tastes. It still screams all american, both inside and out, and to a lot of people, that is not a bad thing. So all together, not a bad car. And in every respect, a huge, almost unquantifiable improvement of the last generation. But still, as we both drove into the purple LA night, I couldn’t help but wonder why we didn’t see more of these in Los Angeles.
I have no idea, but I suppose the car is a relative hit for the company – how could it not be? But here, in La La Land, I just don’t think it has legs. In a city where everyone expects their car to say something, what does this car say? I asked a friend who recently had one as a rental in Detroit – talk about the perfect ride in the right city, and he sort of shrugged, “Eh – it was fine”. Not exactly unbridled enthusiasm. When pressed, he said it was nice. Now this was not a car guy, so maybe he wasn’t the most in touch with his automotive desires. Another friend at a dinner party looked perplexed when I brought the 200 up. This was a car guy. ” Why would anyone drive that? There are so many better other choices.” Notice he didn’t say there were better cars – there are – but in Los Angeles, the car you chose has to have meaning. Any meaning. And perhaps that is why this vehicle just hasn’t caught on here. To most people, the Chrysler 200 is strictly a rental – something you drive when in the fly over states. ” I had one in Chicago,” he said. ” It was alright”.
In Los Angeles, a city where everyone strives to get, to be or to have better, “alright” just doesn’t cut it. As we both approached the 405 I passed the 200 for a final look. It was a rental. The driver was frantically searching the windshield attached Garmin to see which way to go on the highway. Another lost car in the City of Angels.
Much has been made in the press about how LEXUS has been promoting the new RC Coupe. They unveiled a strategic marketing plan, that was notable, for one reason – they were going after the LGBT community, an idea that hadn’t occurred to them before, with a series of print and TV ads. Ok, makes sense – if you’re selling a niche vehicle, sell it to a niche market. The only thing is, the ads aren’t very…. gay. Just a bunch of shots of some athlete jumping through shattered glass with a message about how important it is to remain individual. And I guess that is fine, better I suppose, than some stereotypical queen mincing over the hood, purring about how fabulous it is. But still, there is probably a better middle ground. Their big gay push, it seems, is just about buying up a few double page ads in gay publications, and running the commercial on LOGO. So I guess that is a start. But it got me wondering if the car even appeals to the gay buyer, and that is harder to figure. First of all, despite looking like a giant face shaver, the car is a bit fussy. Torn between a desire to be a muscle car, and a proper GT, it is striking, but I am not sure if for the right reasons. Inside, it is snug and tight, the new lexus language dash is fine – and well made, but again, a bit fussy with all those tiered levels. It is cozy and sporty – and that is what it should be. How the whole package will play to the gay customer, is probably a moot point – the gay customer responds to the same impulses and concerns as the general population as a whole. But I can tell you that the LA population has started seeing these new cars out and about, and if there is one things they all have in common – at least in my experience, here on the west side – it is an Asian driver. A young male, obviously with money – a sort of Fast and Furious fan with a thicker wallet. So, without making too many sweeping generalities here, is this the base customer? And is this what Lexus needs to gain a market share? Is the RC Coupe just a slightly matured boy racer for those that have already done the WRX? And, perhaps more importantly, how will that initial perception affect future sales? No doubly it is an interesting car – created to compete with the BMW coupes, but I think, finding a niche all it’s own.