Me and My Car: Captain of her seven-seater
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Sofia Ambler, director of Heletranz
What do you drive?
It’s a black Volvo XC90, diesel, 2005, automatic. This is my third black, diesel automatic XC90. I drove one in Hong Kong where we lived for 12 years. I loved it so much that, when we moved to Sweden, I bought another one and it was perfect, especially in my (and the car’s) homeland with the winter snow and ice.
When did you buy it?
Two years ago.
You’re Swedish and so is the car ... is that a coincidence or planned?
I love having a Swedish car. It makes me feel a little bit more at home and I also value having a very safe car for myself and my family.
Who else is allowed to drive it? You can’t hurt it, so anyone!
Main consideration when buying a car?
I’m very Swedish when it comes to safety. It’s also great to have the space to take a lot of extra kids or family. It needs to have seven seats, a large boot and look okay — I think my car is an excellent-looking car.
First car you owned?
Another Swedish car, a Saab Cabriolet, which I purchased after several years of working in Hong Kong, I didn’t need one before that.
No big surprises here, I would love the new model XC90. I might have to wait, though, as with all the kids’ gear, sheep nuts, hay etc. I don’t feel like I would do her justice at this stage.
Favourite car colour?
I think black cars look great.
Do you prefer manual or automatic?
Automatic. When you sit in traffic, it’s unbeatable.
Who taught you to drive?
My parents, when I was 17 and living in Stockholm. The first cars I drove were a red Mazda 626 and a blue Fiat Uno. My parents were great, especially Dad who is so patient, something Mum and I slightly lack.
How is learning to drive in Sweden?
You need to do the ice driving test, which is challenging but great fun. The driving test and the theoretical test were really difficult with a lot of people failing their first time; so by the sounds of it, when talking to Kiwi friends about their experience, the NZ driving test is possibly a little more lenient.
How different is it driving in NZ to driving in Sweden?
Apart from swapping sides, which is always hard first day back on holiday in Sweden, I think there are a lot more aggressive, bad drivers in NZ.
Most memorable road trip?
Driving up north skiing in Sweden. You end up driving for two to four hours out of six to eight on ice and snow; it’s an amazing landscape to drive through.
And if you could go on a road trip anywhere with anyone?
I would choose my parents. If more of a fantasy character, I would take Pippi Longstocking, she was always my favourite.
How often do you clean your car?
Not very often. We did our first family outing to the car wash a few months ago
What do you listen to in your car?
With kids in the car, normally More or ZM. If I drive alone and it is time for news, it’s RNZ or ZB.
Great day trip out of Auckland?
The West Coast beaches Karekare and Bethells are amazing. I love the raw, untouched wild nature so close to town. One of the most popular scenic flights we do at Heletranz is the Coast to Coast. In which country can you see all city landmarks, volcano craters, white sand beaches, black wild surf beaches, native bush, vineyards and orchards all within 30 minutes? My other favourite is Waiheke Island, we spend a lot of time there.
Would you rather drive in Auckland or take public transport?
I do love to drive, but I would really like to see public transport get better. We live rurally and if you’re not at park ’n’ ride by 6.30, there’s no spot for you.