A wife, a young child, a thriving business and two cars. Life sure is busy for Sydney vet Dr Dave Nicol.
The 38-year-old has worked hard to build his career, with a clinic in Darlinghurst and a hospital in North Ryde, and he has come to rely heavily on his 2006 Subaru Forester X to handle the daily commute and trips back and forth between the surgeries.
A day in the life of Dr Dave involves consultations at the clinic in Darlinghurst, then a drive over to North Ryde to tackle any surgical procedures.
“A normal day would be morning consults here in Darlinghurst from 9am to 11am, we might have to take an animal across to our main hospital for surgery and get things fixed up across there, make sure the other hospital is all running smoothly and see some clients there. Then its back here all over again between 5pm and 7pm for evening consults,” he said.
He also owns a Smart Fortwo, and though it’s good for zipping through the city to attend house calls, there’s no way a golden retriever or great dane is getting more than two paws inside the car.
“I opened up the hospital eight-months ago and we then had a logistical problem because I was driving the Smart. So I had to get something that was reliable, had a bit of space and we could move animals easily between the two hospitals.” Enter the Subaru.
Of course, things don’t always go to plan, if there is an emergency situation at the other clinic he’s back on the road. His Forester has seen it all. As Dr Dave explains, at times it’s an ambulance without the lights as he tackles traffic to transport a critically injured animal.
“A dog came in, it was hit by a car a couple of streets over. It was in pretty bad shape so we had to stabilise here first of all, then transport the animal to our main hospital facility. In that situation we had to take the animal in the back of our ambulance.”
In one word, he’d describe his current work vehicle as ‘reliable’.
“The cage we’ve got in the back, once the animals lie down you can actually fit something as big as a golden retriever in there. The old Subaru will fit most things, it’s a bit of a workhorse.”
But there are some characteristics that have been getting on his nerves.
“it’s probably not got the amount of attachment points I’d like to secure cages. It guzzles gas and the visibility’s not brilliant.”
His trusty ’06 Forester has served him well but he’ll eventually need to upgrade and there are a there are a few non-negotiable factors.
It has to have enough room in the back to fit a carrier for an animal, plus extra space for any equipment needed in case there are complications while in transit and it needs to be well ventilated. A low loading lip is a must to make it easier to lift the sometimes heavy animals in and out.
CarAdvice handed him the keys to a new Subaru Forester 2.0 XT Premium, and let him put it to the test.
“Initially I looked at it and thought, wow, that’s a lot bigger and I thought if its going to handle like the old car, how is this going to drive? You can imagine going over lots of bumps it’s quite good, but when you’re driving on roads and cornering around the city you do feel like you’re in something like a supertanker. So I was a little concerned as to how something this much bigger would feel. But it is much better.”
He was impressed with the handling and found it comfortable and smooth to drive.
“It handles much more like a smaller car and it’s pretty quick off the mark. The visibility all around is great.”
The reversing camera received a big tick of approval, as did the functionality of the backseats.
“The space inside is pretty cool as well, and just the little things like you just flick a switch now and the back seats pop down or if you’re in a hurry to get things rearranged – that makes a difference to me, and there’s a whole lot more fixing points in the back there as well.”
CarAdvice asked him to fill out a quick questionnaire to give us a snapshot of his time in the Forester.
What did you like about it?
“We would have gone through a tank in the miles that I’ve done in this car in the past week in the old Subaru, in the new one I’d say we’ve probably done a third of a tank of gas, so that’s a really big improvement. And the space, it’s just easier to work in.”
“Compared to the old one, honestly there’s isn’t a whole lot I don’t like about it. It’s a massive step forward.”
Where did you go and what did you do?
Drove around Sydney a lot ferrying animals, doing house calls.
Was the car comfortable to travel in?
Yes, way more comfy than the old Forester.
How was it to park?
It’s a beast of a car, feels very big. I expected it to be a bit of a drama, but the reverse parking camera took away any stress and made it very easy. I felt like Captain Scarlet.
Any issues pairing a phone or using the audio system?
No, not at all.
Were the ergonomics a good fit for you?
Yeah, for a big car it was laid our well.
What did you like about the car?
Bomb proof and safe feeling and it goes like a bat out of hell! A lot of cool gizmos added which was nice. Much better fuel economy that the old Forester too.
What didn’t you like about it?
I guess with any new car you feel a bit bad putting dogs and cats inside! But that kinda applies to any new car right? Otherwise there wasn’t anything I’d say in the negative.