Several years ago, an Audi executive told me he wanted to recruit the British musician Sting as the company spokesman.
“He’s older, but he’s how I want to age,” the executive said. “He’s not sitting in a rocking chair, he’s racing around Aspen in some hot car on his way to the slopes.”
I thought about his comments after spending a week in the 2018 Audi SQ5, a superior midsize luxury SUV that competes against the BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC. Other, mostly male reviewers tout the SQ5 as “Young Love” for wealthy male millennials who want an SUV with sportscar-like performance.
It made me realize that I’m not waiting for Sting to be an Audi spokesman. I’m waiting for Helen Mirren.
I’m waiting for the auto industry to catch up to the cosmetics industry and be in the vanguard of marketing to older – and affluent – women. CoverGirl made global headlines last week by announcing that Maye Musk, Tesla guru Elon Musk’s mother, is the company’s newest model. She’s 69. Mirren is 72 — and she’s a cover girl for L’Oreal.
Yes, I know the longtime industry adage that “you can’t sell an old man’s car to a young man.” Presumably, that’s what did in Oldsmobile and Mercury. It sounds even more chilling to try to sell “an old woman’s car to a young man.” But that’s not how I look at it.
Like many women, Helen Mirren and Maye Musk are shining examples of how to age well.
Audi and other automakers are missing out on an opportunity to woo a segment of the market with deep pockets and a hankering for a vehicle that feels great and is an image-booster at the same time.
They are female Baby Boomers whose kids are off the payroll.
These women have no problem shelling out money for a week at Canyon Ranch or buying themselves some Tiffany bangles on a weekend trip to NYC. My friends in Ann Arbor, Michigan — university provosts and professional women — are also into “polarity therapy,” a wellness approach that uses “energy mapping.” Classes run upwards of $1,100 and there’s a waiting list. These women are willing to spend money on things they think are worthwhile. Call them female versions of Sting.
After spending a week in my test SQ5, I could barely stand to give back the keys. I didn’t realize this German SUV would fit me so well and feel so good.
The redesigned 2018 SQ5 is the performance version of the Audi Q5. My loaded SQ5 was equipped with a turbocharged 354-horsepower 3.0-liter V6 engine and an eight-speed automatic transmission. Great details included comfy quilted seats, a 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system and special Daytona Gray pearl effect exterior paint.
My test car cost $65,800, including a $975 destination charge.
Yes, it’s SUV perfection with a steep price, but I think some women could justify the expense, maybe by skimping a bit on Pilates and polarity therapy. Audi should pitch it at them and get a spokeswoman they can relate to.