top-nav-left top-nav-right

Article Search


Girl TORQUE: What's the best car you've driven?


Jacqui visits a class full of kids who ask plenty of questions...

I brought a car into a school the other day - a Kia Rio, which sat alongside a Suzuki GSX1400 motorcycle and a bicycle, to get a high-school class talking about transport.

But what they wanted to discuss instead was my job as a motoring journalist, and the cars I've tried.

Have you driven a Ferrari? Have you driven a Lamborghini?

Which is better, Holden Commodore or Ford Falcon?

What's the conversion factor for horsepower to kilowatts, and why do so many people quote horsepower when we're a metric country and kids are taught in terms of metric measurements? And on it went.

The most common question was "what's the best car you've driven?"

These were bright students, so I explained that 'the best car' has several definitions. The one that'll stick in my brain the longest? That'd be something like the Lamborghini Murcielago, the Ferrari 458 or Porsche 911 997. But they're not too good at doing the school run, or taking a bunch of kids to the zoo. That requires an MPV or a seven-seat SUV, but Kia's Carnival or Mitsubishi's Outlander don't really float my boat.

Best round town? Toyota's funky iQ stands out because it looks cool, and parks on little more space than a scooter - but like the Carnival, it's not at its best flung down a twisty road.

The Subaru WRX STI I recently drove certainly does that job, and it'll do the school run too. But it doesn't fit my budget...

The kids were looking less than enthralled. They certainly grasped the 'fit for task' concept, but that's not what they wanted to hear; they wanted exotica; they wanted flash looks and loud noises, not common sense.

By now we were running out of time to cover transport solutions; biofuels made from landfill or disposable nappies; hydrogen fuel and tie-ins to household solar panels; car batteries that could store energy and become part of the grid; straddling buses; and the multi-facet transport solutions gaining ground in Europe, where a ticket can access trains, buses, ferries, trams, and even short-term car loans thus reducing traffic congestion and fuel use.

Still, we got back on track eventually, talking about the balance cars like that Rio make to deliver safety, reasonable economy and usability without taking the price too high.

In Rio's case that means cost-cutting via hard-surface cabin plastics and less than perfect carpet trim, so it can deliver pricey kit like stability control, ABS brakes and multiple airbags; or by using an old-school affordable four-speed auto with a 1.6-litre engine that employs variable valve timing to cut fuel use at low speeds while delivering enough pull at high.

But enough of class work, it was time for one last question. "How do I get your job?"

Study a wide range of subjects and get good English results, then be prepared to work hard for peanuts until you've built a reputation.

"Aw, stink."

Maybe, but the Ferrari 458 was worth it...

Read past Girl TORQUE columns here.

Auto Trader New Zealand