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The Sexiest Little Baby On The Road – Fiat 500 Convertible

August 6th, 2010

With a history spanning over more then 50 years, the Fiat 500 came back and took the European car market by storm a few years back. It was then introduced into Australia around 18 months ago and wasn’t welcomed as warmly as it was in Europe – mainly because of price.

But now because of lower pricing and new models, they have become a little more attractive to the Australian market.

Now you’re probably wondering why the hell I have stepped foot inside a car like this, when I am test-driving cars like Jaguars, Range Rover’s and BMW’s. But it is the celebrity influence that has sucked me into test-driving the Fiat 500, which is undoubtedly one of the cutest little teeny weeny cars on the road. It’s the likes of Elle MacPherson and Paris Hilton that got me onto the car. Yes – I was sucked in the way Fiat intended – brilliant marketing!

Now where do I start with this little toy car? I start with changing my mind set and not be so critical, the way I am when I get into $200,000 cars.

No navigation, no heated seats, no leather seats, no 12 airbags and definitely no super charged engine. A big YES to pure, Italian joy! Once the sardine-tin folding roof of the Fiat 500 Convertible was completely opened back onto the rear parcel shelf, I felt like a child again waiting to get on the roller-coaster at Australia’s Wonderland. It’s a weird feeling. In a way you feel like you have left all masculinity in the showroom, but you feel slightly glamorous because of all the heads that turn when you drive this cutie around. What those people are thinking is probably what I think when I have seen them around… “How embarrassing”.

Smooth lines, bubbly charisma, with high class looking touches, this car is so irresistible. When I get in the car, I feel like I’m driving a men’s version of the Citroen Pluriel. Well, as manly as a man’s Fiat 500C can get with the flamboyantly standout white interior, steering wheel and instrument cluster. I think the thing that makes this car attractive is the colour combinations available. You can get great interior and exterior colours, and customise it like a Mini Cooper. You can get decals for the exterior and personalise the inside. I particularly love the Funk white interior, Pearlescent white exterior and Ruby Red roof. Sexy!

Getting in the car, the door is slightly tinny, but that’s expected for a car of it’s class. The seats are comfortable and supportive, but look abit big for the car. The head rests bother me, they look like they were a last minute addition. They are hard and uncomfortable.

The car feels solid for a tiny thing that weighs only 940kgs. It’s quiet and smooth. For a 1.4 litre petrol engine, it has guts. But I’d hate to have more then one person in the car, I think it would lag a little with a full car. But in saying that, there are other cars on the market that have similar engines and drive a lot worse with just 1 passenger, so this engine isn’t too bad at all. I drove the Dualogic transmission, which has 5 gears which can be changed with a tap of the cute gear stick. Dressed with enormous 16” wheels, ABS and Electronic Brake Distribution, the car stops much faster then it takes off! Much to my suprise, it also has Stability Control, 7 airbags and Traction Control… Which leads me to the drive…

Although the car feels solid, it’s a little bit bouncy and loose driving around corners and over bumps. You feel almost certain that you won’t leave the road, but you still have a slight inkling that it may just not stay on the road because of it’s weight around tight corners at speed.

The interior is FUN! No fancy LCD’s, no technical paddles, levers, buttons and pretty lights. But even without all the technical bits that I love, the interior is still FUN! One feature I love is the fascia on the dash, it’s a whiteboard! You can write all over it with whiteboard markers and rub it off! I love that. The car has all the little features you’d expect, climate control, CD player, USB/MP3 input on centre console, chrome bits and pieces, rear-parking sensors, Bluetooth and leather steering wheel with audio and Bluetooth controls (and one of the best looking steering wheels I’ve ever seen in white!!).

Likes: It’s looks, it’s beautiful. One of the cutest and aesthetically pleasing cars on the road. No it’s not a Porsche or a high priced performance car, but WOW, this car has prominence on the roads. It’s just divine. It’s a joyous car to drive. It is a cheap small convertible, but for some reason doesn’t have the tackiness of similar cars like the Mitsubishi Colt CC or the Citroen Pluriel.

I love the roof and how it works, the whiteboard dashboard is super cool and I LOVE the white steering wheel and colour combinations available.

Dislikes: I’ll be honest – I really couldn’t fault this car. It’s a small in size, small engine, mid-priced, non-serious fun car. You would buy it knowing this. You would buy it knowing you’re spending a little bit of extra cash on a car that turns heads, but isn’t for space, performance – or anything really?!

Would I buy it? Good question. Probably not. If it were given to me I’d drive it, but as a guy, I wouldn’t buy it. Just over 500,000 have been sold since 2007 and 70% of those owners are women. So I’m more then likely not going to buy it. But I do have to admit, I’m in love with this car.

Price: The Dualogic (Automatic) that I drove is $35,990 drive away! Not bad.

Final say: This car is just great. It makes you feel great, it’s bright, light and free. The only annoying thing is every time you drive it, you want to trade the landscape of Parramatta Road for an Italian village with cobble stone lane ways, little Italian bakeries, cafes and deli’s. A little poochie on the front seat, a beret and organic groceries on the backseat. Bliss. Absolute pure bliss.

Meet The Charismatic Geoff Field From 2Day FM

May 17th, 2010

Geoff Field invited me to the Austereo studios at World Tower to do the interview you’ll read below. I was really excited to meet him, because I had heard his voice pretty much every working day for the past 8 or so years, when I first started listening to Kyle and Jackie O.

I went to the 16th floor and rang the door bell to the studio. Out came the very enthusiastic and very kind Geoff Field, greeting me and welcoming me into the 2Day FM family. He introduced me to the Groupie Receptionist Sonja who was also pleasant and welcoming. A tour around the amazing office, introducing me to all the staff. He showed me the Kyle and Jackie O and also the Hamish & Andy studios. Then it was to his little studio, where Geoff showed me how he does his job. I was so intrigued and excited to see how it all works and comes together – and he was so happy to show it to me.

The 2Day FM office and studio is so impressive, Geoff told me the story about Rihanna when she was here. She said that of all the radio stations she has been to around the world, 2Day FM by far had the best studios!

After we grabbed a couple of cold drinks, we headed up to the roof top to start the interview. It was a beautiful sunny day. A relaxed Geoff, immaculately dressed, with his distinct Porsche sunglasses on, we sat in the sun and caught up on everything GEOFF FIELD…

What are you doing at the moment – projects, work and other bit and pieces?

I’m working on Hamish & Andy which I’m enjoying so much! I also do a segment once a week on Kerri-Anne; I do a lot of charity work too which I love! I work with Miracle Babies, which is for babies which are born premature, to raise money for them. I also do things like City to Surf, dinners, The Bobby Goldsmith Foundation and people living with HIV, the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and also Breast Cancer! So that keeps me very busy. I’m also doing a Youth Off The Street with Ellie Mobbs who works here at 2Day FM. It all keeps me very busy!

There has been many rumors about you leaving the Kyle and Jackie O show – please clear it up for us!!

I’ve just recently moved off Kyle and Jackie O over to Hamish & Andy which I’m enjoying very much. Six years of breakfast and getting up at 3am was tiring.

I had some great experiences on the show, I got married to my partner Jason, live radio and live TV, I’ve been thrown out of an airplane at 4000 feet, I’ve read the news in a pool of sharks, I’ve been hung off the side of Center Point Tower, I’ve been dropped in the desert and had to find my own way back so working breakfast was great – but it’s time for a change. I enjoy my sleep-in’s and I love working with Hamish and Andy they are great!

Where is your favourite place to relax in Sydney?

My favorite place to relax in Sydney is DEFINITELY the Boy Charlton Pool. In Summer I just love going there and doing nothing all day, reading a book. I’m not really into beaches because I was spoilt as a child living on the South Coast, so in Summer Jason and I drive down to the South Coast a lot and go the beaches down there. I’m picky, so I love it because I don’t have to step over people like I do in Bondi Beach.

I also like to relax in Kirribilli, a Chinese Yum Cha Restaurant that is nice, and I also like to go to Doyle’s at Watson’s Bay. Oh – I also love Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair – Jason and I go there a lot for a walk and just sit in the sunshine and watch the world go by.

In terms of fashion, and home décor, is there anyone that influences you?

For the home, I don’t want to plug anyone, but have you heard of Kings Furniture? They design specifically for your house. Jason and I are about to move into a new house in Potts Point and I was told about Kings Furniture and I thought it was interesting because I could have the furniture made to my specific needs and the fact they are cleverly designed with built-in magazine racks and you can flip things around and turn it into a bed if you’ve got visitors.

Fashion wise, I’m an admirer of Peter Morrissey and Alex Perry, I know both of them through the show, I love some of the dresses Alex designs and I love some of the menswear Peter designs.

Is there a feature in your new place that you love most, or was something that made you want to buy it?

YES!!! I don’t want to brag, but it’s a fully renovated marble bathroom, that I can’t wait for! The bathroom I have now is a kind of 1960’s retro and I’m kind of over it! It’s going to be like staying at a nice hotel, so I’m very excited about it. Also looking forward to the kitchen. The kitchen we have now is a tiny little kitchen. If Jason is in there, and I’m in the kitchen, there is no room to even swing a cat or do anything. The new kitchen is really big – I don’t cook but still, it’s nice to be in the kitchen with Jason without feeling like I’m crowding in on his space.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Oh my God! My greatest extravagance is… Oh and I don’t want to sound vain… But it’s when I’m lucky enough… Every few years we fly over to Europe first class on Malaysian Airways. It’s not something I can do every year but I just love the experience of being up that end of the plane! It doesn’t happen every year let me tell you!

Another indulgence is a restaurant that we go to, which has had a lot of publicity recently because Pink went there, but I’ve been going there for 10 years, it’s called Beppi’s down in east Sydney. The same family has run it for 15 years or something. It’s just going there, and having a great Italian meal with a beautiful bottle of champagne. That is an extravagance.

Damn Pink went there and let the secret out and now to go there you have to book months ahead! But that’s alright.

What is something your mother and father always told you?

To respect people no matter who they are. To treat people how you would like to be treated. I think it’s simple and it works for me. Easy.

How did you get into radio?

I slept with boss.

NO!

EDIT!!! I’m joking!!!

How did I get into radio? Well I’d like to say I worked my guts out, went to University and did all the courses, but if you’d like to know the truth, my dad was best friends with the General Manager of the radio station in Nowra where I come from. So I got work experience there and I used to hang around like a bad smell. Seriously, they must have hated me because I would be there all the time. School holidays, weekends, whatever. Anyway I was basically offered a job, probably because they were so sick of me bugging them, so I went into radio, literally the day after I left school and I have never been out of a job in radio since. So I’m pretty happy with that.

What advice would you give someone going into this industry?

Persevere. Never give up. It’s that sort of industry where people often say “Call me back”, or “there’s nothing going at the moment”, so what you do is you keep on keeping on, you just bug them because it’s such a hard industry to get into.

There’s so many people wanting it and so few jobs and I have an example of a particular person who is now hosting their own radio show, they used to, like me I suppose, turn up for work experience and one day the announcer was sick and they put him on air. He now also has a great career. That’s the way to do it  – Never give up!

What do you think are the difference between Australian and European, American or Asian fashions?

I think Australia is great. Australian fashion is great because we cherry pick the best from whether it’s Italy, France, Europe, America or Britain, I’m no fashion expert but I certainly see enough fashion coming and going through this radio station. I’ve seen everyone from Lady Gaga to some of the great designers like Patricia Field for the Sex and the City girls, so I kind of watch from my studio.

I’m always fascinated, even at 6 in the morning, seeing people like Megan Gale or Jennifer Hawkins coming in, even at that hour of the morning they look wonderful. They are always wearing something that just looks great. That’s my thoughts on Australian fashion – we can look at the rest of the world, take the best of it and do our own stuff – and we do our own stuff so well.

What’s one thing you can’t leave home without?

I can’t leave home without my mobile phone! I can’t leave home without my sunglasses. That’s it. Predictable but easy.

If you were Clover Moore, what would be something you’d inject money into fixing?

First of all I think there is too much reliance on cars in this city, like to get to one end of George Street, not even in peak hour, is a nightmare, so I think a lot of people are going to hate me for this, but I think we should make it easier for cyclists. My partner Jason cycles to work everyday and I know people say, “Bloody cyclists they hold the traffic up!” but not if we build cycle lanes. We need a more efficient public transport system in the city itself, the light rail, Clover has been talking about light rail for years, come on Clover!! We can do it!! That’s the first thing I would do – fix up the transport.

Three pet hates?

1. People that don’t respect other people.

2. People that maliciously gossip. There’s a difference between having a gossip, but there’s nothing worse then saying something horrible about someone or an untruth.

3. Weak Governments. I’ll give you an example. I had so much faith in Kevin Rudd, the day after he was elected, I can remember being on a charity walk with Tania Plibersek and some of the other people from the Labor Government and I was so hopeful that we were going to have things change in this country like climate change, all the other things, and look what’s happened. He only just said that climate Change was the greatest challenge of the 21st Century, and now he has abandoned it. We need strong leadership and we need people with principles.

Where do you see yourself in a few years from now?

Hopefully still employed!! I’m enjoying what I’m doing at the moment because I have had a change from Kyle and Jackie O and I’m not doing Hamish & Andy which I love. I loved being on Kyle and Jackie O.

In a few years time, I’d love to be doing my own show, I’m not sure which station, or what the future holds, but in radio, you kind of live from one ratings to the other, thankfully I have been at 2Day FM for 12 years, and hopefully I’ll be here for a little while longer. But in the future I would like to do my own show because I am very opinionated on a lot of issues, so I suppose I would like to give it a go, but not just yet – I’m enjoying being a news reader.

Let’s talk about home life – who cooks more, who cooks less, who cleans, what’s the arrangement?

One word. JASON!

No we actually do have a good at home arrangement, because Jason cooks, he won’t let me near the kitchen. He’s tasted my cooking before and I… Well this is embarrassing, but when we first started living together, I said I would cook one night. I can’t believe I did this, but I went to Coles or Woolies, and I grabbed some mince meat product, which Jason keeps reminding me about, called Dinner Winner. I mixed it up and it was glug. Since that moment Jason said I was banned from the kitchen!

I do the cleaning, and the washing, so it kind of balances it out. We are like a husband and wife, but I’m not sure who the husband is or who the wife is!

Your time with Kyle and Jackie O, they have obviously had you do some crazy stuff. Has there ever been a time that you refused to do something?

It’s all my fault, because when I first started working with them on air, “I’m up for anything! Whatever you guys throw at me I’ll do it!” So I had myself to blame.

My theory was, if it doesn’t kill me, I’ll do it!

But seriously, for the most part of it, it was all in good fun, as I said earlier, I wouldn’t have sky dived if it wasn’t for them. There are times when you think “Oh my god!!!” but at the end of the day, I’ve done about 95% of the things they’ve said – I can’t even remember the things I said no to. Most of the time I did it.

I can remember one morning I had a crocodile and a massive lizard unleashed on me in the studio while I was reading the news, and also on April fools day, the entire news bulletin was sabotaged, with noises and incorrect grabs, including Ray Martin walking in and taking over the news! It was all good fun.

What is one of your greatest learnt?

It’s probably Karma, I think how you treat people eventually comes back on you, I think if you treat people well, life is pretty good. That’s my lesson learnt. Oh and the obvious one – don’t say yes to doing anything!!!

Have you ever been in a position where you have been abused, insulted or harassed for being gay?

I’ve been so lucky, I must be one of the luckiest people in the world because I haven’t. I know that there are a lot of people that really struggle with their sexuality, the work place and their family, but someone up there has blessed me because my family is fantastic. Even my 18 year old nephews, when they come down at Christmas, they are excited to see Jason and I, calling us both Uncle Geoffrey and Uncle Jason, they have only ever known us as their uncles. I think working in the entertainment industry has also made it a lot easier for me, because I know that is I were working on a building site or something, or some other industries, I’d be more inclined to keep my sexuality to myself.

I’m very aware of the fact people do have massive problems and all I can say to them is be honest – because honesty always wins in the end, and don’t hide, because if you keep it a secret, it’s just going to bubble up inside you. No one cares these days; people respect people for who they are.

www.GeoffField.com.au

Passat CC – The Under $100,000′s Have A Strong Contender

April 14th, 2010

I’m not the biggest fan of the current range of Volkswagens, especially that hideous Tiguan. The range of cars seem to lack any form of classic styling, and don’t seem to step ahead in technology for other cars in the same price range.

With all of this in the back of my head, I felt obliged to accept the invitation by VW to come in and test drive the new Passat CC.

I had seen the Passat CC many times on the road, and thought it was just a copy of the Mercedes CLS (still remains one of the most attractive Mercs ever made), but cheaper. I thought VW was jumping on the 4 door, 4 seater saloon bandwagon. But how could a VW Passat CC possibly compare to that of the CLS, Audi S5 Sportsback and Porsche Panamera? Well they can’t, considering the Passat CC is under $100,000, and the others are over. But does price matter?

As I approached the Passat CC, it gave me special tingles. There was something about it that just gave me an urge. Sitting in the showroom, in silver, black tinted windows, black interior and huge wheels, it sat there like a coporate fat cat leaning back in his leather office chair with a cigar. It made all the other little cars around it quiver in their boots.

It’s big. It’s wide. It’s long. It’s chunky. It’s beautiful.

I opened the door, and the window electronically dropped down, which is what most convertibles and the Mercedes CLS do. First sign that they aren’t just pretending to be part of the 4 door, 4 seater Saloon pack. The sexy thin and small windows make this look like a performance vehicle – very similar to the CLS and the Chrysler 300c.

I climbed in, slammed the door shut and instantly felt at ease. The first 5 seconds of sitting in the car, I said I loved it. I hadn’t even turned it on yet. I felt safe, snug, secure. The dash was attractive, somehow looking nothing like the Passat sedan. It didn’t resemble a Golf, Polo, Tiguan or Touareg. It sat in a styling class of its own. Was I impressed? I sure was.

Turning on the largest engine in the range of VW vehicles, the V6, 220kW petrol engine felt liberting. Like I just threw my bra on a fire. (Or not?!) There is a diesel option available too, with 125kW of power and alot more fuel efficiency. The diesel lags abit for it’s size and weight.

It did a quick roar, then quietened down to a purr. All the pretty lights, screens and buttons illuminated. I had a play with my 12-way electrically adjustable seat functions. The sumptuous leather seats are heated and also ventilated, which I liked. The rear seats are also heated with dials in the back for the passengers. The giant glass roof slid open and I put down electric sunblind in the rear window, letting the Autumn sun soak the interior.

Lots of little touch compartments pop open, with storage for silly things. The dual climate controlled air conditioning is easy to use, and looks good. It doesn’t feel flimsy and cheap, like a Golf. The steering wheel needs a little bit of refining, but I couldn’t complain for the price. It is still functional and feels good.

The center console is also good looking, the gear shifter is odd looking, but not hard on the eyes. The center console is a little boring, with just a big box. There is a slide open compartment infront of the console, which is fairly basic too. The glove box is chilled when the air con is on. The sales person thought that feature would impress me – if that’s all he had to impress me, was it all down hill from there?

Driving out of the show room, I loved the feeling of the large engine as I accelerated. It sounded a little like a Donzi. It was asking me to push it hard. I pushed it hard and it packed a good punch. It’s not afraid to go when you want it to. It’s loved stopping too. One thing I will give VW, 9/10 on braking.

The ride was gentle, smooth and refined. Suspension is soft and supple.

It has all the comforts of a decent luxury car; optical parking system, satellite navigation, reverse camera, bluetooth and so on…

I like the car very much, and really enjoyed my test drive.

Likes: Seating comfort, glass roof, high specification for price, neat and tidy boot mechanism, tan leather option, diesel option is $10,000 cheaper then the petrol. Petrol is all wheel drive.

Dislikes: Rear centre console should be appointed differently – perhaps add something electrical. It looks bare and empty. You may as well put another seat in it’s place. Steering wheel could be a little more refined. Diesel engine is a little small for a car of it’s size and weight. The car only seems to look beautiful, depending on the colour combination you get. I have seen some on the road that look boring, but only because of the colour combinations. The two-tone leather interior option is not available in Australia.

Would I buy it? Thats hard to answer. If I was going to spend around $75,000 on a four door car, I’d be looking elsewhere. The reason you’d buy this car is for the seating configuration. If I wanted a four seater, with the comfort of four doors, then yes. But if I was prepared to pay more for the same style, I would definately go for the Mercedes CLS.

Price: Petrol engine – $71,000 on road. Diesel engine – $61,000 on road. The car I test drove was the diesel with the glass roof and satellite navigation package, on road cost is $76,000.

www.volkswagen.com.au