ME & MY CAR: Life with an MG SUV
Search Driven for vehicles for sale
Claire Chitham is instantly recognisable to Australasian TV audiences. She’s also now an MG driver, behind the wheel of a 2021 ZST Essence.
Why this particular vehicle and how long have you had it?
I’ve been driving the Essence for the last two months. I was approached by MG to work with it as an ambassador and I loved its philosophy and approach to building a long term relationship.
This summer it’s celebrating “Life” in all its facets and that was something that piqued my interest. I chose the Essence because of its size, power and style combo. I don’t need a huge car but I wanted an SUV for visibility, going off tarmac when filming in random locations and the occasional surf board.
It has such a great range of SUVs, but the turbo offered me the power I was looking for (I’m a bit of a speed demon). I also love the racing red details of the interior and the epic sunroof. She looks pretty sassy and cool from the front too.
Do you know much about MG’s heritage or is it more about new-gen SUVs for you?
I adored the British Racing Green MGs of yesteryear. My Dad was a car guy and the roadster has always been a favourite of mine. It makes me think of Audrey Hepburn cruising the Italian coastline in the sixties wearing oversized sunglasses or an old Bond film. When I saw the new-gen vehicles that MG had produced, I thought they had their own unique look and style. The interior has a lot of features that still give a nod to that legacy too.
Who else gets to drive the ZST and when?
Are you kidding? Nobody touches her but me.
What’s the best/most interesting feature in this vehicle?
Hard to pick. I love the sunroof, it takes up the length of the car and makes it feel so light and roomy inside, especially fun for passengers in the back. And technically, I’m super impressed with the handling. She drives like a dream. It has such great suspension and handling for zipping around town, but also has the power to feel like a great cruising car.
What would you change if you could?
I think the only thing I’d change would be the colour, I’d go old-school British Racing Green. In fact, I might have to make that suggestion.
What do you always have in your car?
Water bottles, lip balm, hair ties, shopping bags, baby wipes for all spills, togs and a towel.
Money no object, what’s your dream car?
I'd have a six-car garage. In it, an MG 1600 1960s roadster (soft-top) in British Racing Green, a 1960s Jaguar E-type convertible in Sherwood Green, the new limited edition Jaguar F-type 60 Heritage (that’s a homage to the 60s E-type but a modern supercharged V8 version, it’s stunning), a restored 1960s Bronco in army green and the new Land Rover Defender 90 in green.
I’d keep my MG ZST that I’d wrapped in British Racing Green, so then I’d have three modern and three classic matching green cars that I could either cruise in, play speed demon in or go off-road in, and my life would be complete.
MG has a strong presence in electric vehicles. What do you think of plug-in cars?
I think anything that moves us away from using so many fossil fuels is a positive and a must for humanity and the planet. I think they’re important and I’ll probably move to having one in the next year or two. At the moment, I sometimes work in very remote locations and it’s still a little risky for me. But I certainly will head in that direction when I can.
I think there will always be a place for heritage cars and the driving experience, but I think that for everyday use we need to get smarter and more efficient about how we get from A to B.
Do you think driverless cars are close and do you want one?
I’m sure they’re close, yes. I drove a friend’s Tesla recently and watched in fear and awe as it drove itself. But I will not be getting a driverless car, ever! I love driving too much. I love the meditative quality of getting on the road and every single part of me having to concentrate on nothing but that. It’s a switch-off for me. The sense of freedom I get when I’m driving is profound and I won’t be giving that up in a hurry. Until I’m so old I can’t see, then they’ll be useful!