The sleekest cars (and robots) at the region's biggest auto event
Now in its 22nd year, the Dubai International Motor Show is the Oscars of motoring in the Middle East – a showcase for high-end brands and a glittering attraction for the region’s huge number of moneyed petrolheads. This year, the five-day show will occupy a record 60,000 sq m, featuring 500 car brands and welcoming 100,000 visitors.
It’s predicted that luxury car sales across the Middle East will increase by 20 per cent in 2011 (more than double the 9.7 per cent growth of last year) and, if this pattern continues, the region will lead the global luxury car market by 2015. But even for non-motor enthusiasts, the sheer scale of the show is something to behold, helped by the impressive array of alternative technology on display. Time Out takes a test drive around the attractions on offer.
A sneak peek at some of the coolest cars soon to be seen cruising down Beach Road.
Bentley ‘The Dubai Motor Show grows in size and importance each year,’ says Bentley Middle East regional director Chris Buxton. At this year’s show, Bentley will showcase the new Continental GTC for the first time in the region. The brand’s flagship Mulsanne will also make an appearance, together with a very special Series 51 Continental Flying Spur. Bentley Continental GTC from Dhs705,761.
McLaren The world’s newest sports car brand will be turning heads at the Motor Show with the debut of the MP4-12C. Boasting F1 technology such as ‘brake-steer’, where the inside rear wheel is braked during fast cornering to reduce understeer, this car is the first to feature a one-piece carbon fibre chassis. The beastlike M838T 3.8-litre V8 twin-turbo engine ensures it can accelerate from zero to 100kph in 3.1 seconds (with maximum speeds of 330kph), making it one of the fastest cars on the road today. It looks rather pretty too. McLaren MP4-12C from Dhs841,162.
Rolls-Royce To mark the 100th anniversary of the Spirit of Ecstasy – the iconic ‘Flying Lady’ mascot for Rolls Royce – the British motoring brand is showcasing two highly bespoke Phantom models, as well as a yet-to-be-revealed exclusive showpiece car. The 2011 Dubai International Motor Show marks a hugely successful year for the company in the region – according to Rolls-Royce Middle East and Africa regional director James Crichton, sales of Rolls-Royce motors accounted for almost 65 per cent of the market share of all ultra-luxury cars sold until the end of August 2011. And last year, the Middle East alone contributed to more than 15 per cent of Rolls-Royce sales globally. Rolls-Royce Phantom from Dhs1,150,000.
The best of the rest…
Some of the Dubai Motor Show’s other attractions and activities.
Audi Driving Dynamics Driving Dynamics by Audi offers guests the chance to navigate a nippy Audi A1 through an obstacle course at high speed. Audi-certified instructors will on hand to demonstrate obstacle avoidance and emergency lane changing – useful for the morning commute down Sheikh Zayed Road. Head to the Audi stand to sign up. Driving Dynamics is offered to those who subscribe to Wheels (Dhs30)
Honda ASIMO The Japanese car-maker will be using the Dubai International Motor Show as an opportunity to showcase its Asimo (Advance Step in Innovative Mobility) robot – the world’s most advanced humanoid robot, which can run at speeds of up to 6kph, climb stairs, and take over the world on a whim (okay, so it hasn’t quite got to this yet). Asimo is also able to recognise individuals, walk hand-in-hand with people, and push trolleys – the perfect companion for a trip to Spinney’s. Asimo will be ‘performing’ at the Honda stand on Thu 10 (5.30pm, 7.30pm, 9.30pm), Fri 11 (3.30pm, 5.30pm, 7.30pm, 9.30pm), and Sat 12-Mon 14 (noon, 2pm, 4pm, 6pm, 8pm).
Pimp your ride This year’s show features a new tuning section for anyone looking to soup up their current car. High-performance aftermarket tuning specialists including Asma, Brabus, Gemballa, Hamann and Vorsteiner will be on hand to help you get the most out of your wheels. World-renowned tuner and car manufacturer Brabus is promising the world debuts of its 800 Coupé and 800 EV12 convertible, as well as the Middle East premieres of the Brabus 800 Rocket (the world’s fastest sedan) and the Brabus 800 Widestar, the world’s most powerful off-roader.
The Infiniti pit-stop challenge There will be an F1-style pit-stop where visitors get to change the tyres on a replica Red Bull Racing car. As with a real F1 race, wannabe pit crew will be timed – the person who changes the tyres in the quickest time will win a chauffeur-driven trip for two to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, given a tour of the paddock on race day (November 13) and enjoy the Grand Prix from the stands. www.infinitipitstopchallenge.com.
Dubai Jewellery Week Those not interested in motors can fawn over the latest gems at Dubai International Jewellery Week, which runs from November 10-13 at Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre (the same venue as the Motor Show). Highlights include a limited-edition ‘Enzo Diamante’ Ferrari book with a diamond-encrusted platinum horse gracing the cover, valued at Dhs918,250. There will also be the chance to win diamond, emerald and ruby rings worth Dhs15,000. Also on display is the Dhs14 million Mouawad 1001 Nights Diamond Purse (right). Considering that the combined price tag of the three Bugatti cars at the Motor Show is Dhs25.7 million, this could prove to be a very expensive weekend. Free. Open Thu 10 11am-3pm for ladies only; 3pm-10pm for the general public; Fri 11 3pm-10pm; Sat 12-Sun 13 11am-10pm. Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre, www.jewelleryshow.com.