Motorhead mum

Ms Wendy Tan, assistant dean at the law faculty of the National University of Singapore, with her Mitsubishi Evo X, son Elijah and daughter Bethany.
Ms Wendy Tan, assistant dean at the law faculty of the National University of Singapore, with her Mitsubishi Evo X, son Elijah and daughter Bethany.PHOTO: CHEN WENG YOUNG

Assistant law dean Wendy Tan's Mitsubishi Evo provides thrills and is good for commutes too

Eyebrows are often raised when Ms Wendy Tan, assistant dean at the law faculty of the National University of Singapore, pulls up at work.

That is because a rally-bred, 300bhp-plus Mitsubishi Evolution X with a throbbing HKS aftermarket exhaust is hardly what you would expect this demure 38-year-old mother of two to emerge from.

But despite her gentle demeanour, petrol courses through Ms Tan's veins. As a toddler, she recalls being intrigued by driving, gazing in wonder on bus and taxi rides as the drivers turned the steering wheel and shifted gears.

She even slotted a stick through the handlebars of her tricycle to create a "gear lever".

Years later, she served on the inaugural committee of the NUS Motoring Club. In her third year of law school, she was elected as the club's president and during her tenure, she organised go-kart events, treasure hunts and drives to Malaysia, among other activities.

  • WHAT'S IN THE BOOT

  • •Car battery and washer fluid reservoir

    •Umbrella

    •Spare pairs of shoes

Throughout her university days, she drove a front-wheel-drive Honda Integra. But she became an all-wheel-drive convert, thanks to her pilot husband, who is an Audi enthusiast.

After marriage, the couple had an A4 Quattro before upgrading to a 420bhp RS4.

In fact, the Evo was a present from her husband on her 31st birthday. As a true-blue enthusiast, she naturally wanted a driver's car, preferably with all-wheel drive and a stick-shift, so it fitted the bill.

She gushes about its dynamics every chance she gets. "The car is very well-sorted and I'm spoilt by how well it takes corners," she says.

"The steering is sharp and precise and the car sticks to the road as if guided by tracks."

While she gets her kicks from the car's acceleration (it hits 100kmh in well under 5 seconds), she is mindful of speed limits and has never received a speeding ticket while driving the car.

Besides delivering driving thrills, it also serves as "mummy's taxi" to her 12-year-old son and nineyear-old daughter - a role which it plays equally well.

Apart from school runs and work commutes, she uses the car for grocery shopping and ferrying the children to and from sports training and other activities.

In fact, she says (in jest, one hopes) that the seats are sweatsoaked from her son's rugby and soccer training and that cockroaches have made their home in the cabin's nooks and crannies because of her children's frequent in-car meals.

On average, she spends two to three hours a day on the road and sees the car as "a sanctuary of sorts - a place for me to pray, plan and ponder".

She adds: "And when the children are on board, the car becomes a chatroom or classroom."

Her children love the car too. Her son Elijah constantly eggs her to push it harder, reminding her that it can "outrun a Ferrari F430", while her daughter Bethany finds the seats very comfortable and is unfazed by the firm ride and road noise that the high-performance tyres generate.

Clearly, the petrolhead genes run deep in this family.

•The writer is a regular contributor to Torque, a motoring monthly published by SPH Magazines.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 10, 2015, with the headline 'Motorhead mum'. Print Edition | Subscribe