New Zealand really does have some unique driving conditions. To make the most of motoring in Kiwiland, the ideal would be a different car for every occasion.
Not many people have that privilege - but it's fun to pretend.
Here are our top five cars for road trips up, down and around Aotearoa:
BEST CAR FOR A FAMILY ROAD TRIP
BMW X5 M50d
So you have the kids on board, lots of luggage and a long way to go. You'll need something with good visibility to safely tackle New Zealand's undulating roads and keep car-sickness at bay, a supremely comfortable cabin - and a vehicle that's a bit special, to keep the driver interested as they clock up the kilometres.
Enter the BMW X5 M50d. It's a superb family vehicle with seven seats should you need them, it's packed with comfort/convenience features and it's a product of the M Performance division.
That means a triple-turbo diesel engine with staggering overtaking ability and a great chassis.
Not that the kids will care about that.
BEST CAR FOR A BACKROAD
Kiwi backroads are notoriously narrow, very bumpy and subject to a strict 100km/h speed limit - sometimes less. To enjoy them you need a vehicle that's small, nimble and still feels great at low speed.
I'm tempted to say the super-sharp Toyota 86 is the one, but summer is on the way and who doesn't like a good blast in a top-notch roadster?
The Mazda MX-5 requires no introduction: it's brilliant and the world's most popular sports car.
There's a facelifted model set to arrive next month as well.
BEST CAR FOR WHEN THE ROAD RUNS OUT
One of the best things about driving in New Zealand is that you can still find plenty of
places to leave the sealed stuff and go bush.
Naturally, should you choose to do so there's a good chance you'll get lost/stuck/
entwined in a fence on private property.
The best vehicle for this kind of activity is a Toyota Hilux.
A Hilux is no longer the best ute on the market in tangible terms, nor is it the best off-
road vehicle you can buy (although it's pretty good).
But when you're in the backblocks, and you need help or have broken something belonging to a gnarly country character, you need to think
about public relations.
Everybody loves a Hilux and you're going to get a lot further (in a metaphorical sense)
driving one through parts unknown than almost any other vehicle.
BEST CAR FOR A TRAFFIC JAM
Let's be honest: New Zealand has a mostly urban
population and our largest city is hopelessly congested
for at least four hours every day. The most common Kiwi
road trip therefore involves sitting in traffic, crawling along at walking
The perfect car for this type of driving is the Lexus GS450h. For a start, it's a hybrid, so you can crawl along on battery power and look disapprovingly at those around you polluting the atmosphere. The GS450h also has an exquisitely luxurious cabin, which is the ideal place to spend congestion-time.
Specify the optional Luxury package. It will give you a massive 12.3-inch colour multimedia screen to play with, superb Mark Levinson audio, heated/cooled seats ... and even an ottoman for the front-seat passenger.
BEST CAR THAT CAN DO ALL OF THE ABOVE
I still reckon that if there's any such thing as the perfect New Zealand car, it must be the
Subaru Outback. It's certainly not the latest and greatest wagon on the market, but I like its combination of space, practicality, chassis smarts, comfort and light-duty off-road ability.
An Outback kind of does it all. And while the heyday of Kiwi passion for all things Subaru is arguably behind us, people do still seem to connect with the brand in a "good on ya mate'' way.