Premium cars have long associated themselves with fashion brands. And BMW has become much more fashionable in New Zealand in recent years, with Kathyrn Wilson named as an ambassador and NZ Fashion Week added to its sponsorship portfolio last year, which saw a fleet of X1s getting a wrapping. BMW-owned Mini has been on that track for a while, having been officially linked with local fashion house Stolen Girlfriends Club for three years. And to celebrate both the launch of the new Mini Paceman and the label's new range, the "muscular coupe" has become a model itself after being wrapped in the Death Moth print.
From a distance, the car, which launched in New Zealand last week and is built on a Countryman chassis, looks like it is clad in a gentle floral print, but closer inspection reveals a darker side, with angry looking moths and tiny hand grenades.
Stolen Girlfriends Club was established in 2005 and, like Mini, claims to be "an innovator rather than a follower".
As the release says: "At the ethos of their brand is a youthful rebellious spirit, with a healthy sense of humour, and the ability to entertain and empower. Stolen Girlfriends Club is now stocked in over 13 countries and its presence is ever expanding among the world’s most fashion forward bloggers, celebrities, musicians and innovators."
As for the new Paceman, it still has the traditional Mini look, it still feels like you're driving a video game and there's no shortage of pep, which you'd expect given it costs north of $50,000. But it is slightly lower in the roof than your traditional Mini (by 4cm), it's higher off the ground and it claims to have "a dramatically-raked roofline and aggressive, square-jawed" front (the ad campaign plays on the new angle with the phrase 'A new slant on things'). Given the SUV market is growing at twice the rate of standard passenger car segment in New Zealand, and the small car sector is also on the rise, we can see why: it's almost like a combination of the two.
It's one of those cars—and wraps—that seems suburb-specific. Not surprisingly, there was plenty of ogling while driving it around Ponsonby. But driving around Avondale, it felt like there was more narrowing of the eyes and sneering.
Apparently, the Paceman is intended to appeal to young, early adopter males who are into the latest thing and want to add a bit of 'street attitude'. I'm not young, I will never understand why you would line up all night to get the latest gadget and I own a Subaru Outback with 250,000kms on the clock that no-one would ever look twice at, so driving this flowery number was a strange experience (the down-and-to-the left Euro reverse was also a strange experience at times, especially when I went to take off from the lights and went swiftly backwards). As the Mini brand ad says, it just wasn't normal. But it was fun.