Today i have the lovely Sara Näse for an interview. Sara is a blogger, freelance automotive journalist and the co-founder of the Finnish car site digiauto.fi. Originally out of Finland but currently lives in Düsseldorf.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your business.
i am Sara, a 25 years old Finland Swedish car journalist from Helsinki, but currently I live in Germany. I currently run two websites. Get Palmd is my personal blog in English that I have had since 2008, and Digiauto is a Finnish car website I co-founded with friends last summer. I also freelance write for some car websites and in the past I have worked with PR / social media projects for companies like Top Gear Suomi and Gran Turismo Events. So I try to keep all my projects car related!
You recently moved from Finland to Düsseldorf, what made you take that decision?
Since the age of around twenty I have been wanting to get away from Finland and try something new. There was always something that stopped me – relationships, money situation, work and so on. Last spring I took a first small step and spent two and a half month living in Italy. When I returned to Helsinki over the summer for work I knew it was only a temporarily solution and I would soon be somewhere else again. I just had to decide where. It was a choice between Italy and Germany and I found a good flat in Düsseldorf so I decided to take it. You can always move to the next place if you do not like it, right? I had actually never been to Düsseldorf before I moved here, but I quite like it now. I miss the sea because I have always lived close to the sea, but at least I am more central in Europe now.
People that have been following you know you have a passion for road trips. What’s the worst thing that has happened during your trips?
Luckily I do not have any very bad memories from any trip. Of course things happen. I have seen strange things – especially in Romania, I have met strange people (mostly amazing people though!), and I have got lost several times. So far the only fine I have got was for driving without a vignette, so not that serious. Never has the car broke down either. Damn I have been very lucky I guess?! Or maybe I just have the gift of being able to turn every negative into something positive. The small problems you run in to are part of the journey!
How did you get started with automotive journalism?
When I was 19 I started watching Top Gear. That was also when my road trip life started and nearly every summer since that I have been on some road trip, alone with my dog or with ex boyfriends. I started getting really into cars and slowly my blog started to get filled with car content. I think I took it to a more professional level this year and started booking press cars, doing road tests, videos and all that. Decided this is 100% what I want to work with – found my thing!
Most people that have a passion for cars say their dream job would be to do car reviews. What are some of the hard things with doing reviews?
I actually do not really feel I do very normal reviews. Because I honestly do not think I sit with the amount of knowledge and history to be able to do fair and truthful reviews – I am not a senior car journalist with years of experience. What I instead want to do is to pass on a feeling. I want the reader to get the idea how I feel when driving a car. I want them to in some cases think that damn, I want to experience that feeling too, so they go and test drive the same car. With places I want to describe them in a way that gets the reader inspired to take their car and go do a road trip to that destination.
I also try to ask only for cars I am interested in – I do not book as much cars as I can, I book only the ones I really want to drive. I think that is quite important. It has to come from your heart and you have to want to drive it. But the hardest thing so far has been video, something I have been trying to do for every car I have driven. Sometimes I shoot everything alone. Then when the car is returned I sit there with my files, half of them look like crap, and wonder why I did not shoot a little more video because there is no way I can cut this into anything that makes sense.
But I personally think that if you can show some sincere passion, you are already a pretty good (car) journalist.
So you decided to start your own site with car reviews, how did you come up with that idea and what future plans have you got for the site?
I think that what I would really love to do is good Web-TV. I am becoming more interested in videos – slow learning process but getting better – and the ultimate dream would be to one day work with a great team and do some really high quality stuff. I still think the focus would mainly be on road trips, but mixed with normal road tests, factory visits and so on. There is something very special about the road trips though – I love to discover great roads in a beautiful car and share those stories. If I had the financial possibility I would absolutely do them more often – but this is a good start!
What was the first car you ever reviewed?
The first car was the 2012 Mazda MX-5 Roadster. Fun small car – I picked it up on a Friday and went all in the next three days and drove 850 km. I did not rest very much that weekend!
Which car did you enjoy the most to review?
Tough choice. I think the recent BMW Z4 sDrive35i is on top of the list because I did 4000 km with it during ten days and really got the chance to test it as a daily driver on different roads. It was also a fantastic car to drive, nothing bad to say about it. Some other cars that left strong impressions were the Toyota GT86, the MTM tuned Audi TT RS, and the Camaro. The Camaro not that much because it was a fantastic driver’s car – it is actually quite clumsy and surprisingly quiet although it had a 6.2L V8 engine – but it was a cool experience and that car has attitude!
A question i always ask is what car do you have in your driveway?
Last summer I had a new press car every week and did not even need my own. Now when I live in Germany I have decided to buy a car here. What actually ends up on the driveway is very much a budget question. Because I prefer to do my trips with press cars (read: cars that I can not afford to buy, haha) and live in a city, I mainly need a car to bring me to the press cars and for some work trips. Some models I currently have on my options list are Subaru Impreza, Mitsubishi Evo and Porsche 944 – so under 10k€. If the current budget were higher, I would get a GT86 immediately, very fun car!
And if you can dream for a minute, what is your dream car?
My dream car is a first generation Honda NSX. I think the good ones in Germany start from 35.000€. Black with gold wheels (or black on black), if I could choose any colour. The midnight pearl is also a stunning colour for the NSX, and of course it looks amazing in red too. But it really is a stunning car with a history. The harder to achieve dreams are a Maserati MC12, a Pagani and a Ferrari F40 – but they are a piece of art.
What car are you looking forward to the most in 2014?
Good question. I think the Jaguar F-Type Coupe is stunning, so that is high on the list. The new Corvette Stingray is also a car I can not wait to test drive. The list is actually very long now when I start thinking about this, a lot of nice new cars available! I would also love to drive the Alfa Romeo 4C if I ever get the chance, so many say it is a real “bang for the buck” car.