Somehow, a month has slipped by since crankandpiston’s newboy fell off the long haul flight from Manchester. Explorative wanderings around Dubai – complete with ‘wow’s, ‘woah’s and ‘huh’s – have rubbed the silver off my metro card, slowly filled my rucksack with taxi receipts, and worn holes in the sturdiest of my loafers. But after several (long) registration forms and a character-building journey to Dubai RTA, my international driver’s license finally rolled off the press last week, and I am now eligible to drive in the Middle East.
The day of my first drive rolls around, and to commemorate the occasion, I have been entrusted with the team’s beloved Scirocco. Since it joined the management fleet, peers and desk mates alike have gushed over the VW rocket: “that low roof line and mean front end”, “it’s well-equipped and got some great seats”, “handles like a beast!”. But from the passenger seat, my input has been more succinct: “absolutely, it does look the business”, “yep, the interior quality is something else”, “…I got nothing…”.
Best-laid plans often go awry though, and it’s already dark when I leave the office. With the spring in my step only slightly dampened, I saunter across the car park, a wry smile breaking through as I blip the doors open from well over thirty feet away. I’m feeling good. The traffic’s a bit heavy, but it can hardly be worse than any other city, can it? Engine fired up and eyebrows accordingly raised, I’m down the ramp stage left and out onto the main road.
Fulls beams straight into my left eye catch me off guard, as does the gentleman who deems a two-inch gap between my wing-mirror and a passing sedan to be ‘ample’. The roundabout doesn’t go too well either, my eulogy half-written as an SUV decides to turn left at the last minute. Some rather determined acceleration on my part moments later demonstrates what fun 150+hp can provide. Decisive but not aggressive, the ‘Rocco’s oomph will crack a smile whenever the inner eight-year-old jumps on the throttle. Even in sixth, cruise mode can turn to rev limit red line with the slightest persuasion.
Lane etiquette takes some getting used to. Indicators somehow confuse matters, car horns and ‘aiming for the gap’ the staunch favourites instead. Mirrors are referred to every other second, though seeing nothing but back seats in the rear view is of little help. Several emergency stops are completed without a hitch, and sporadically coned off lanes make sure handling is up to scratch. The LCD entertainment system, a noble companion early on, has been completely forgotten.
Left, right, left, u-turn, another right, and I finally pull up outside my overnight halt. It’s been an exhausting drive. All ten minutes of it. The Scirocco sits idling, ready to go again. I slump motionless, ready for a glass of water and a lie down >>>