Me and My Car: Mini a family favourite
Z’S CHIEF EXECUTIVE MIKE BENNETTS DRIVES A 2015 MINI COOPER S
What's so special about your Mini?
It’s pimped up to look like a GP, which (Google tells me) is the fastest Mini built. I love the blend of retro with hi-tech, that classic go-kart feel while being economical with fuel. It has three driving modes and you can dial up or down the amount of “green” motoring you want to do. I had a long spell overseas and returned to NZ in 2008 and bought a 2008 Mini Cooper S. My youngest daughter was taught to drive in it so she has taken it off my hands. She reckons I deserve a new car but I figured it was more about her getting the old one!
My first car in 1980 was a Mini 850. Dad had lovingly rebuilt the engine and repainted the car before I got to “buy” it from him. Sold it later for a profit so I’m not sure whether I have been forgiven by Dad for that.
I would probably buy a BMW i8, or maybe a smaller model once they invent it. I have been a BMW fan for many years, and have owned a few while overseas.
Who taught you to drive?
I was taught to drive by my parents in the family car in Auckland. Both had enough patience to start with but I also did a few hours with a driving instructor before I sat my test at 15. Dad is a great driver and great with mechanical stuff so he did his best to teach me about how cars need to be looked after. Manual or automatic?
Manual if I want a driving experience like my Mini provides. If I was driving a much larger car, then an automatic, probably with paddles though if it was a performance vehicle.
Most memorable road trip?
When I lived in South Africa I drove from Durban to Cape Town through what they call the Garden Route. An epic 1400km-plus journey in a Toyota Crown — thankfully the views and company were fantastic because the car certainly wasn’t.
What do you always have in your car?
Safety gear because I may be visiting one of our operational sites and need to “suit up” at short notice.
Favourite movie car scene?
I remember the first time I saw The Blues Brothers — tremendous music and the mother of all car chases to end the movie. I hate to think how many cars were written off as it was all before CGI was invented.
As a key figure of Z, what fuel saving tip works best?
It is amazing how much fuel you can save by driving safely — no harsh braking or cornering, no rapid acceleration and keep the tyres to the recommended pressure.
And what do you listen to in your car?
I plug in my iPhone and blast it away — whether that be classic road trip numbers (like Bon Jovi) or something more chilled out as I sit in Auckland’s all-too-frequent traffic jams.
What irritates you most about other drivers?
Impatience irritates me, and my own impatience irritates me more.
Auckland’s traffic ... what’s your take on it?
My main place of work is Wellington so my version of public transport is a plane twice a week and walking to work. I don’t think the answer to Auckland’s traffic is just more roads or more public transport. It needs to be both, because the problem is so profound, as well as growing the residential population in the central areas and doing that around existing or future public transport hubs.
-As told to Donna McIntyre