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Zaib Shaikh

Profession: Actor, director and producer

Age: 36

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Hometown: Toronto

Notable achievements: Received a Leo Award for his role as Imam Amaar Rashid in Little Mosque on the Prairie; Co-wrote, directed and co-produced Gemini Award-winning Othello, the Tragedy of the Moor; TV credits include Metropia, DaVinci's City Hall and The Dead Zone

Currently: Little Mosque on the Prairie, Monday nights at 8 p.m. EST on CBC; his production company, Governor Films, has numerous TV and film projects in development including a one-hour drama and a reality game show.

Zaib Shaikh is best known for his role as Imam Amaar Rashid on CBC's hit comedy Little Mosque on the Prairie. But the actor and producer is also an avid car lover who just bought a 2011 Audi A3.

Why did you buy an Audi A3?

This is my second A3. The Audis are great cars; the A3 in particular is super fuel-efficient and good for city driving. At the same time it's functional and sporty. You can flip the seats down. It really is the best hatchback available in a way.

In spite of the fact that it is so functional, it's a super sporty car with the paddles for gear shifting if you want them. You don't feel like you're driving what one would consider a functional, fuel-efficient car. You feel like you're driving a sporty vehicle.

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But I'd make GPS standard. I think it's an option right now. Nice cars should just come with a good GPS and Sirius Satellite radio these days. They're so prevalent.

What does an Audi say about you?

It says I'm super functional, practical, sporty, highly efficient and powerful.

Does the car have the personality of an actor - does it like the limelight?

Like me, the actor/producer, this car moves in and out seamlessly.

It likes to move around quickly in the city so you have a chance of getting to know it. But then if it's got things to do it doesn't get in your way.

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No one wants an actor that gets in someone's way. No one wants a car that gets in your way whether you're a pedestrian, another car, or a cyclist. This car moves in and out of lanes very smoothly.

Are you a car guy?

I like driving. I like putting on the tunes. I like going on drives.

I'm not a fix-it guy. I'm not a gear head. I don't like being in the garage with a car.

I think the car is meant to be driven and not to be looked at and shammed every weekend and hidden away in the garage - that's not me. ... Without being a gear head I can be a car enthusiast and that's what I love about the Audi.

What was your first car?

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My dad used to be in the wholesale car business. I can't pick one car because numerous cars came through our home.

As I was growing up, I got to test-drive anything from a Porsche to Ford Escort LX to older '80s Audis - when they first started out in the North American market - to the lovely K-Car to a Honda.

I've had a beautiful relationship with American, European and Japanese vehicles. It's been a good ride.

What's better - European, Japanese, or North American made vehicles?

Must say I do prefer the Europeans over the American and Japanese. Japanese are good solid cars; Americans would come in last place for me. My dad would defer; he likes his American cars, but I don't.

Why?

Their design. Ultimately there're muscle-ly. They're trying too hard to be broad and big; you don't need to be broad and big to get attention. You just need to be smooth, efficient, sleek and polite.

Any mishaps driving any of those cars?

Back in theatre school I was doing a summer job to pay for the extravagant theatre class. Some guy was in a really cool car while I was driving a not so cool car - I think it was a Chrysler Caravelle.

He just turned right into the lane as I was coasting nicely because the car really couldn't do much. I turned right in and I nearly slammed into him, swerved, got into the right lane.

It was so hot. The air conditioning wasn't working in the Caravelle so my windows were fully open and this guy proceeded to yell at me as I coasted. He would slow down and just yell at me - like somehow it was my fault that I nearly crashed into him.

Unpleasant words were exchanged for a good five minutes. He was racist, too - that was unpleasant to hear his racial slurs. But I couldn't close the window because I had to lean over - that's not good when you're coasting in a champagne-coloured Caravel.

Do you drive a manual?

I drove a little Porsche Carrera - a 1979 stick shift for a few days. I learned stick shift on that - very badly. I'm not very good at stick shift even now because it was a '79 Porsche 911 Carrera.

What do you listen to on the road?

I've got 14 days of music, back-to-back on my iPod. I like to listen to stuff that's festive, not too sombre in the car.

I think a road trip deserves Rolling Stones, Kanye, Stevie Wonder, some cool Canadian bands like Sloan, Metric - they're good.

If I could bring you the keys to any car what would it be?

A nice vintage Alfa Romeo racing model. ... I love that Ralph Lauren has a whole bunch of classic cars in a garage somewhere. I like that he drives the cars rather than just keep them. That's what I like to do. I like to drive cars.

Do you rehearse at the wheel?

Yes. Sometimes I'm listening to things if I'm researching roles or researching a show that's coming up.

Sometimes I'm just yelling at people in character. I don't yell as the Imam on Little Mosque too much. Usually I'm just pontificating - that's what Amaar does - telling people to be nice and observe the road rules like a proper spiritual man would.

Sometimes I end up yelling hysterically, hoping no recognizes me. I have a lot of fun on the road.

The interview has been edited and condensed.

Queue jumpers, lane blockers, gas pump dawdlers, parking lot prima donnas and stop-sign Samaritans: it's enough to make you road weary

Better safe than sorry when driving through wicked weather

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