Starring role for Honda's hot coupe

By Liz Dobson


When Sione's 2 actor Robbie Magasiva picked up his daughter, Sophie, from school last week in Honda's new sporty CR-Z, he didn't receive the reaction he was hoping for.

Magasiva left his Range Rover at home for seven days and instead was a celebrity driver of the hybrid coupe. So when he pulled in front of 11-year-old Sophie's inner Auckland school she was expecting her actor dad in his black SUV.

"She was also listening to music on her cellphone so I yelled at her to get in the car," said Magasiva.

"She did a double take - and then started laughing."

Yeah, not the reaction he thought he'd get.

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But Sophie quickly explained her mirth.

"You look cool but you look really big in it."

At 1.87m tall and with a famous muscular body - that will be highlighted when Sione's 2: Unfinished Business comes out on DVD next month - Magasiva had to push the CR-Z's driver's seat as far back as possible to fit in the car.

Luckily reception was better at his 15-year-old son Austin's all-boys school.

"When I bowled up to pick him up the boys said, 'cool car, sir'."

So, what did Magasiva think about the CR-Z?

"I live in Ponsonby and my kids go to school around there so I do a lot of running around. So as far as petrol and parking is concerned I think it is 10 out of 10."

Especially compared to his petrol Range Rover that chews through over $200 of petrol a week while the CR-Z's petrol gage hadn't even made it below halfway during Magasiva's time with the car.

The CR-Z had a 1.5-litre i-VTEC petrol engine combined with a electric motor in a parallel hybrid system with three drive modes - economy, normal and sport.

Added to that is a six-speed manual transmission, making the CR-Z one of the most economical cars in New Zealand.

That engine and transmission also won over Magasiva.

"It's a lovely car to drive and it's a manual and I haven't had a manual car for ages and I love that. I also love the three modes of the engine. I just flicked it on to economy when I was around town and it still had a little bit of grunt as well. On the motorway I put it into sport mode - and wow it just kicked it," he said.

"For a little car, it was quick, absolutely quick."

The only downside of the CR-Z for Magasiva was the size - both interior and exterior.

And as Magasiva is an avid surfer, he couldn't fit his surfboard on the 4.08m-long CR-Z to hit the West Coast beaches over the weekend. Instead he opted to just take a drive to Piha to test the car's ability.

"I have a long board [about 2.75m in length] and I think that if I had my surfboard on the top of CR-Z and I did a 100km/h on the motorway, I'd probably fly," he joked.

It was due to his need for room that he has owned the 2003 Range Rover for a year but before that his heart belonged (and still does) with Audis.

His first was an Audi A4 before he upgraded to a S4 - nicknamed Black Beauty.

"I loved the S4 and it had lots of kick. If there was room I'd keep it forever. But I had to buy the Range Rover because of my kids, because I go surfing a lot and also because all my buddies are Samoans and they are all big - so I think of everybody," he laughed.

The other upside to the Range Rover is that it has parking assist as Magasiva is the first to admit that he is terrible at reversing.

"Many a time I've backed into cars - I think it's mainly blind spots. I've backed into so many things - it's my weakness. I need a reversing camera."

Unfortunately the CR-Z didn't come with a reversing camera - though it needed it as the wedged shape created huge blinds spots in the rear.

Although a fan of the little coupe, when it comes to Magasiva's fantasy vehicles, big is best.

"My fantasy car is this 1970s Bedford van I saw online with a bed inside - and my surfboard would go on top. But my dream car to run around town? It would be any Audi station wagon or an Audi Q7."

Magasiva has motoring history with a Bedford van - his only overseas road trip was in one when he was a teenager. After working as a camp counsellor he joined a Trek America trip with other tourists in a Bedford van from New York to Los Angeles.

"The trip took two weeks and was amazing because we got to see the States," he said.

As a child in the 1970s, his family would often drive from Auckland to Wellington.

"My parents would load me and my four brothers into the Ford station wagon, and we'd drive there stopping at small towns on the way. They were memorable trips," said Magasiva.

These days his memorable road trips are surf-focused - he heads to whichever coasts has the best waves.

"I've been to Raglan and 90 Mile Beach to surf, but the most trips are up the east coast to Tawharanui beach.

"If we get there and the surf is cramp, we call them romantic drives."

- Hamilton News

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