I drove the section of road between Otamauri and Moawhango called the 'Gentle Annie' for the first time ever. We drove it from east to west because accommodation options are much better in Hawkes Bay than in the central North Island. We were blessed with an absolute stunner of a day. If you get the chance to drive it, I can't recommend it highly enough. One of the best drives in the country in my opinion. And I got the chance to really explore the performance aspect of the VXR in a road legal context as the road is very twisty in places. I still can't fault the AWD system, there was no wheel slippage or centre diff clunking in the switchbacks as you'd get from a Haldex or Subaru system. The car definitely doesn't feel like it weighs nearly 1800kg either. You can throw it from lock to lock and it just settles and drives through the apex like a hot hatch. Even when driving it hard, the gearbox is smooth although in automatic mode it would like to change down very late in corners which was a bit disconcerting. I ended up driving most of it with the gearbox in manual mode and using the paddles. When you get to the end, put the drive mode back to Touring, move the gear shift sideways back to D, set the Adaptive Cruise Control and head home @ 7.5L/100km. EDIT: For our Australian friends who might want to give it a go (and I still recommend you do) pick your time of year carefully. The NZ Spring and Summer will offer the most settled weather. In winter the road can be closed due to snow and I would say some of the more shaded parts would get black ice on them very quickly in cooler weather.