Me and my car: Aaron Brunet

By Donna McIntyre

As the 2014 MasterChef NZ winners are about to be announced,we catch up with last year's victor, Aaron Brunet of Raglan

Picture / Ted Baghurst
Picture / Ted Baghurst

What do you drive?

A Skoda Superb 4x4 TDi wagon which I was delighted to win on MasterChef. I love the effortless torque and economy of the diesel engine. It's luxurious with heated leather seats and it has that firm, confident feel of quality. The 4WD is great for unsealed roads and getting to trickier camping spots.

What is it like to win a car?

This is the first time we've had a new car and I still pinch myself when I walk up to it.

First car?

A blue 1975 Datsun 120Y station wagon that my dad gave to me when he upgraded. We lived in a rural area where if you didn't have a car you were stuck at home.

Your dream car ...

Something I tinkered on in a shed for a good few years to personalise. I'd start with a 1990 Range Rover Classic then stick in a modern 3-litre common rail diesel engine and auto transmission plus paint it a gracious colour.

I'd do an interior makeover and it would need extra soundproofing and a high-quality audio system. If I had my dream it would be an all-electric version with enough battery life to do 600km on a charge.

Favourite car colour?

A deep shade of British racing green.

Who taught you to drive?

My mother, father and my second dad, Allan. Al and I had sessions in the Woodhill forest where there were few other cars which made it easier to focus on the gears, clutch and brake co-ordination.

Manual or automatic?

On the open road I prefer manual for the precise engine control, but sitting in motorway traffic I'd go for an auto. Years ago I drove my partner Ani's MG BGT (manual with a heavy clutch) up the Harbour Bridge in crawling traffic during a thumping downpour. About 500 hill starts later I was becoming a convert to the idea of autos. The DSG transmission in the Skoda Superb gives us both in one.

Memorable NZ road trip?

Driving around the South Island for two weeks with a great friend in late summer, winery-hopping and swimming at every opportunity.

How often do you clean your car?

About once a fortnight we give it a proper clean.

And what do you listen to?

Usually a mix between Radio NZ programmes downloaded on to my phone, my daughter Ariana playing us her latest best finds from her iPad, and either Radio NZ or Raglan Radio live when we have reception.

What's a great day trip out of Raglan?

One of our favourites is an early start then heading on the back road (through Waingaro) to Auckland for a day playing in the big city. We always aim for a high tide swim at Sentinel Beach in Herne Bay, with foodie treats foraged on the way for a picnic lunch.

Do you judge people by what they drive?

I don't judge but I do find it fascinating to see what people drive and why. It's a bit like food - some people are foodies, some aren't. I really love cars but to my surprise there are people who see them as just a way to get from A to B.

Who else is allowed to drive your car?

Ani and I share the Skoda now that we've sold our previous cars.

Is there space for cycles and cars on NZ roads?

I'd like to see bikes have priority over cars and dedicated cycle lanes all over the country. On our rural roads it doesn't feel very safe riding a bike ... cycle paths would be much better for our bodies, our wallets and our visitor appeal.

As told to Donna McIntyre

- NZ Herald

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