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NIGEL CLARK IS GENERAL MANAGER, DEVELOPMENT AA DRIVING SCHOOL
What do you drive?
Thanks to senior management roles in the UK, I have been able to indulge my passion for well-engineered cars, building up my collection over a long period of time.
I have a 2013 Maserati Quattroporte executive GT; a 2005 Lexus LS430; a 2011 Audi S5 3.0 V6T, Quattro convertible; a 2015 auto Nissan Qashqai, STI, 2.2 litre; and a 1960 cherry-red manual 1300cc Austin Healey Sprite.
This is my fourth Maserati. I can get my golf clubs and trolley in the boot. They have been reliable but, most importantly, the engine sound is intoxicating.
The Lexus was built to last forever, it’s quiet, smooth, fast and easy to drive. I imported it from the UK because European models were more highly specified than those sold in Japan.
We wanted a convertible and the Audi, with its supercharged engine, DSG gearbox and four-wheel drive, goes round bends like it’s on train tracks.
Having a manual old English sports car is a dream come true. It’s fast, fun and puts a smile on your face and, with a Toyota five-speed gearbox, easily keeps up with modern traffic. And a modern SUV like the Qashqai is to go to the beach or off-road.
Do you have a favourite?
That’s hard. The Lexus has a soul and is faultless, but the Maserati is Italian, it needs to be driven, and gives you back what you put in.
Which is your everyday car?
I use them all regularly, except the Healey. In the morning, keys and decide on the spur of the moment which one to drive. It’s surprising that I find the Maserati’s keys in my hand most often!
Bugatti Veyron, a pinnacle of engineering, it has everything.
Who taught you to drive?
I learned to drive in the UK, started on my 17th birthday, the earliest you can drive in the UK. I had about 10 lessons in a manual and practised with some of my parents’ friends. Looking back, I could control the car but I was naive about the dangers and took too many risks. It’s more thorough now ... when I ran the AA driving school in the UK, the average number of lessons taken to pass your practical test was 50.
How do you rate NZ’s licensing system?
The New Zealand system of learner, then restricted and full licence is good as it allows learners to build their skills over time. NZTA made changes to the system in 2011 and 2012 with the aim of reducing death and serious injury among our youngest drivers by changing the driving age and the restricted practical test, and this is having an impact. What’s frustrating is that the Government does not promote or recommend professional training, driving lessons or courses.
What is your opinion on Kiwi drivers?
I came to NZ six years ago and was shocked at the standard of driving. Drivers travel too close to the car in front, rarely signal before changing lanes and are allowed to pass on the left on motorways. We have a mix of drivers who have learned their driving in other countries which complicates the situation.
Any tips for drivers?
Always drive to the conditions, keep a safe following distance and look ahead.