It's all go for stars in eco challenge

Pair get contrasting results from 24 hours in hybrid Honda

Bronwyn Turei and Matt Whelan have taken part in a fuel economy challenge, driving a Honda Jazz. Photo / Ted Baghurst
Bronwyn Turei and Matt Whelan have taken part in a fuel economy challenge, driving a Honda Jazz. Photo / Ted Baghurst

When two of the stars of the original series of Go Girls, Matt Whelan and Bronwyn Turei, were offered the chance for some off-screen rivalry they were keen to show they were unlike their characters Brad and Cody from the NZ TV series.

Honda New Zealand gave the pair a Jazz IMA hybrid for 24 hours each and told them to drive as far as they wanted - but they had to do it economically.

Considering the small hatchback has 30 per cent improvement on fuel economy in the 1.5-litre petrol Jazz at 4.5l/100km, the challenge wasn't going to be too difficult for the pair.

Well, for one of them it wasn't hard. For the other it proved tougher going.

Matt Whelan

What did you know about hybrid cars before you drove the Honda Jazz IMA?

That they were meant to be more economical than standard cars and that they had an electric motor as well as a regular motor. Just basic stuff, nothing advanced, like all of my car knowledge.

What were your first impressions of the Jazz?

I thought it was very flash and full of great features - great radio, comfy seats, cup holders everywhere. I was surprised as to how spacious it was for such a compact car. It also handled really well and had a good amount of power. I really liked the economy drive button and the display that tells you when you're using petrol and when the electric motor assists. Overall, it felt very comfortable and fun to drive.

How did you go with the eco challenge drive?

I do know that during my weekend away to the Hilton in Taupo (which was incredible) I didn't have to put any extra petrol in over the 560km I drove to Taupo and back to Auckland.

What did you learn about economic driving after being in the Jazz hybrid?

That I definitely saved more petrol when I had the economy switch on. Also, driving slower and keeping the air-con off helps.

How old were you when you learned to drive? Who taught you to drive and what was your first car?

I was 16 when I started to drive. I started in my uncle's car, driving around our family home in Christchurch, out in the country. Eventually I advanced on to the road and Mum and Dad took turns teaching me how to drive. I felt it was a good way to start on those country roads as they were never busy and I got the hang of the basics very quickly. The first car that I bought was a 1984 Ford Laser hatchback for $650.

What is your current car?

I'm currently driving a 1996 Mazda Familia sedan.

What would be your dream car when you make it big in Hollywood?

A Firebird 3.

What is your favourite car movie, where the car is a star?

It's got to be either Back to the Future or Gran Torino.

What projects have you got coming up?

I have a film coming out later this year called 3 Mile Limit, it's based on a true story about Radio Hauraki starting up as a pirate radio station off the coast of Auckland in the 60s. Great group of people involved and a great New Zealand story. Check out the Facebook page for updates and info, and there should be a trailer coming out really soon.

Bronwyn Turei

What did you know about hybrid cars before you drove the Honda Jazz IMA?

Not much. I'd been in the hybrid taxis and always found it strange you couldn't hear when it was running, but up until I actually got behind the wheel I knew very little of how it handled. I knew they were economical, quiet, compact and great for the planet.

What were your first impressions of the Jazz?

Cute. Sleek. Fun. Excited to drive it. Surprisingly spacious for a little package.

How did you go with the eco challenge drive? How far did you drive, did you have to fill it up with petrol etc?

It was such a comfortable, smooth drive. I fell in love with the turning circle too, did a few U-turns just for the sheer fun of it. So in the end I did 482km, although I did do a bit of heavy-foot driving on the passing lanes (all keeping to the speed limit, mind you). I also played with the air-con and eco switch so I don't think I quite portrayed a true eco challenge drive. I realised this when we got to the Auckland motorway and the fuel light came on, I got a bit worried I might run out before the safety of the Honda Newmarket dealership so I pulled off at Takanini and put in $10. To my horror it took it up to quarter of a tank. I mean that's great normally but not for this challenge. I knew all was lost.

What did you learn about economic driving after being in the Jazz hybrid?

I learned (in this challenge) you should wind the windows down instead of cranking the air-con, it's always better to use the eco setting, the weight of your baggage makes a difference, always have your tyres pumped up and, most importantly, pick and choose when you put the pedal to the metal.

How old were you when you learned to drive? Who taught you to drive? What was your first car?

My first driving experience was a bit tragic. I was 16 and out for a drive with my cousin who was a year and a half older than me (yes, she was on her restricted so you'll have to excuse the illegal nature of our teen joyride) and she thought it was about time I had a turn behind the wheel. We drove out to the Gisborne countryside where we were nice and alone, changed places and I bunny-hopped and stalled my way down the road. I got going and cruised along at a snail's pace, freaking out the whole time, accidentally flicked the windshield wipers instead of the indicator, reached for the gearstick missed and grabbed her knee. I'm screaming, she's in fits of laughter. I slam on the brakes, get out and refuse to drive again for a very long time!

My first car was a Mitsubishi Lancer, complete with fake bullet-hole stickers along the boot. I named her "Susie Q".

What is your current car?

I drive a Honda Civic 2001. He's silver, awesome, and his name is "Bruce" like the shark from Finding Nemo. I wouldn't survive in Auckland without him. We've been on many a road trip.

What would be your dream car when you make it big in Hollywood?

I thought about this, and I'd probably keep Bruce, spruce him up a bit, but I'd love to own a fully restored Datsun Sunny, like my Nana used to drive. I got some mates who are Datsun enthusiasts so I reckon I could swing it easy.

What is your favourite car movie, where the car is a star?

I narrowed it down to two, Knight Rider with Kitt, and the classic car thriller Christine. I loved Kitt as a child - even got to sit in him and get pics when I was very small. Christine because I always liked the idea of a car having feelings and a personality. That's why I name my cars, to give them a loving pep talk on those big hills and cold mornings.

- NZ Herald

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