Drew Smith: ethnographer, strategist and host of Rising Minds

Petroleum-powered Peccadilloes for Plutocrats


If austerity is all the rage, someone forgot to tell the manufacturers of city runabouts. Aston Martin’s much-maligned £35k Cygnet -based on the humble £10k Toyota iQ- is just starting to hit the streets. It’s also available in an even more exclusive Colette edition.


The amusingly named Fiat Abarth 695 Tributo Ferrari has been terrorising residents of Belgravia since late last year at an unamusingly steep £30k.


And the £11k Fiat 500 on which the Tributo is based is now available in a Gucci edition for a £5k premium.


Even Citroen is in on the act with the Orla Kiely-fettled edition of their quasi-premium DS3.

It doesn’t stop there, however.


Having the last laugh -as is so often the case in the Automotive world- are the Germans.

BMW Group brands Rolls Royce and Mini recently had a pash behind the bike shed and produced the Mini Inspired by Goodwood.

What do you get for your £25k premium over a standard £16k Mini? Leather, leather (everywhere), walnut veneers made at the Rolls Royce plant in Goodwood, “deep-shag” carpets and the smug satisfaction that, if you hadn’t worked it out already, you’re one of 1000 willing to pay £41,000 for a Mini.

Downsized luxury is everywhere these days; nary a day goes by when a report crosses my desk telling me that, despite the economic uncertainty, people are still enjoying luxuries, just in smaller portions. Now consumers can do it with their cars. Just don’t expect it to come cheap.


Category: Branding, Car, Design Strategy, Uncategorized


3 Responses

  1. Rob says:

    Of course we can’t go past the pinnacle of downsized luxury, the Carla Zampatti Ford Laser!

  2. Drew says:

    Rob, you are the king. I mean queen. I mean… oh, you know what I mean.

  3. Massimo says:

    great post;


    how the heck (as usual) the automakers keep missing the cycle
    in which we live in:

    i mean the economy goes banana and they keep putting out these non sense product.
    in Italy a country on the verge of default and mental collapse;
    there is an ads from LANCIA on the new Y stating:

    Contrary when the economy is well, automaker keep sending to dealers cheap, boxy, understated, green cars.

    This should be the title of a Discovery channel program, seriously but:

    on the side a mentioned to Rob photo:
    amazing find, the last image standing of the androgynous man kind.
    Only Grace Jones in 007 (as wellas in a 1980 citroen ads); and
    Don Johnson in Miami Vice, can reach this limit.

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© Andrew Philip Artois Smith and DownsideUpDesign, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrew/Drew Smith and DownsideUpDesign with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.