The Ferrari California T

Post by Mark

As I mentioned in my last Ferrari post, in the lead up to my Ferrari Portofino drive, the local Ferrari dealer and I decided I’d test drive the two previous models first, the Ferrari California, and the Ferrari California T. I wasn’t really excited to drive the California T after driving the California because I assumed they would be too similar. I didn’t think there would be much to write about but I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I was lucky enough to pick up the car on Thursday last week when the weather was still perfect. It was going to rain that evening but it was clear during the day and the sky was really beautiful which really helped my shots come out great. Actually, the color and the lines of the car also helped with that as well. The California T looks similar to the previous California at first glance, but there are some defining differences. On the exterior, the biggest change would be the front lights and the slightly more aggressive styling on the side. While on the inside, the biggest change would be the updated entertainment system and the steering wheel. In my last California post, I mentioned how one of the things that made the car feel normal was the lack of buttons on the steering wheel. In the California T, the buttons that control the turn signals, lights and wipers are now all back and located on the steering wheel. Definitely overwhelming at first but you quickly get used to it and then wonder why other car manufacturers don’t do this as well.

But, the biggest change with the California T takes place under the hood. The T stands for turbo and the California T has two of those connected to a V8 engine producing 553hp and a 0-100km time of just 3.6 seconds. The car felt a lot faster than the first generation California and handled a lot better. The car felt a lot stiffer during turns but yet somehow still managed to eat up potholes comfortably. Really the only issue I could think of if I was being picky is the exhaust sound, I wished it was louder at normal cruising speeds. The car was a lot of fun to drive and while with the first California I dropped it back to the dealership earlier than I was supposed to, with the California T I actually wanted to keep it for the weekend.

The next Ferrari I’ll be taking out is the newer Portofino so I’m pretty excited about that. I saw the car on display at the dealership and it looks even better than the California T so can’t wait. The car I drove in this post is actually a 2016 model and listed on their for sale on their pre-owned website for KD59,000. But the dealer does have one starting at KD43,000 and you can check it out along with the one I drove and the rest of their pre-owned lineup [Here]

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Rumor: Location of New Mercedes Dealership

Post by Mark

As I previously posted, starting January 1st, Al Mulla Group will be the new distributors for Mercedes-Benz in Kuwait. There has been a lot of talk on where their showroom will be but this current rumor seems to be the most plausible one.

Volkswagon just moved to a new showroom in Al Rai (pictured above), so the rumor is that the Acura dealership will now move into the old VW showroom, leaving the current Acura showroom for Mercedes to take over.

To me, this makes the most sense since the Acura lineup is fairly small, and I don’t think is doing so well in Kuwait, so the old VW location should help cut down on their overhead. The current Acura location is actually pretty nice and spacious so should be enough for the full Mercedes lineup, at least until they build them a new larger location.

Update: Looks like the above isn’t a rumor anymore. A short while ago Acura sent a message to their customers informing them that the dealership is moving to the old VW showroom (including their service center).

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Suzuki Jimny Back in Stock Next Month

Post by Mark

The first batch of Suzuki Jimny’s sold out in Kuwait overnight so a lot of people missed out on them. But, I just found out the dealer is getting their second shipment at the beginning of next month. The manual gearbox version was priced at KD5,200 while the automatic version was KD5,500. If you really can’t wait till next month for some reason, there is a car dealer in Sharq selling the green one pictured above for KD6,700 which is over a thousand more than the dealership. Crazy..

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First Drive: Ferrari California

Post by Mark

When it comes to Ferrari convertibles, I’ve had a bit of bad luck. The first time I took out a Ferrari convertible to drive, it was the Ferrari 458 Spider, a beautiful car that I happened to take out during a terrible dust storm. I did end up with some eerie desert shots of the car, but still, I would have loved to have driven the car up and down the coastal road on a beautiful day. I was later offered the Ferrari California, but it was in the summer and I had to pass on it, then again this past summer I was offered the new and gorgeous Ferrari Portofino to test drive, again I was super tempted but had to pass since it was too hot to drive with the roof down.

But, recently while talking to the Ferrari team, I brought up the Portofino again. I really wanted to take the car out but turns out their test drive vehicle was in Oman for an event and wouldn’t be back in Kuwait for a couple of weeks. So we came up with a cool idea, I’d do a heritage drive of a sort. While waiting for the Portofino to arrive to Kuwait, I’d take out the older Ferrari California, and then the newer Ferrari California T before finally taking out the Ferrari Portofino. Three Ferraris, obviously I wasn’t going to say no.

I ended up picking up a red (Rosso Corsa) Ferrari California last week on a beautiful day. The sky was blue and the weather was cool so first thing I did was drop the roof before leaving the dealership to run a few errands. People have a love and hate relationship with the California with most of the hate coming from Ferrari enthusiasts. Now that I’ve driven a few Ferraris I can understand where the misunderstanding of the California comes from. While all the Ferraris I’ve driven have been pretty aggressive and intimidating, I found the California to be fairly chill. As soon as I sat in the car I felt comfortable, mostly because the controls were similar to other non-Ferrari cars. With the Ferrari’s I had previously driven, the steering wheel contained all the buttons for controlling things like turn signals, wipers, lights etc.. It’s a bit overwhelming at first to see all these buttons when you’re used to having levers behind the steering to control these things. It takes a bit of getting used to but the California had a fairly normal steering wheel with just a Start/Stop button and the ride control switch. It felt more like a normal car and I think it’s little things like this that put off the Ferrari enthusiasts.

Driving the California didn’t feel scary either. The California wasn’t crazy fast and felt very manageable and friendlier than say the Ferrari 488GTB. The ride wasn’t harsh, and the car didn’t look aggressive nor did it feel like it was trying to get your driving license revoked. It felt like a beginners Ferrari which is why the car appeals a lot more to women. In fact, when I posted pictures of the car on my instagram, all of the positive comments I got that included heart eyes emojis came from my female followers, while all the puke emojis came from guys.

The California is a car you could use daily, it clears speedbumps easily, it has back seats which are fairly usable and it has a folding hard top which I always prefer over the soft ones. Would I buy one? No I wouldn’t, if I was to buy a Ferrari it would for sure be the GTC4Lusso or the older FF. Actually, if we’re being hypothetical here and talking about convertibles, then the Ferrari convertible I’d want is the Ferrari 488 Pista Spider. But that’s not gonna happen.

The Ferrari California I drove was a 2014 model and is part of their pre-owned collection. All their pre-owned cars are approved and certified by the special Ferrari Approved Program so you’re pretty much buying a used car that’s as good as new.

The car I drove is listed on their website for KD35,000 and you can check it out along with the rest of their pre-owned cars [Here]

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The New Suzuki Jimny is Out in Kuwait!

Post by Mark

The Suzuki Jimny has always had a cult following so when a completely new redesigned Jimny was released, it instantly became a huge hit. I’ve personally been waiting for it to arrive to Kuwait for months now just so I could check it out in person and possibly take one for a test drive. So, when I found out Suzuki launched the new Jimny in Kuwait yesterday, I headed to their showroom to check it out.

I passed by in the evening and they only had one Jimny on display out back behind the showroom. The showroom was fairly busy and I barely could get the attention of a salesman to ask him a few questions about the car. Everybody there was there for the Jimny and they were all buying it. When I left last night all the automatic gearbox versions of the car had been sold out and they had a few manual versions left in limited colors. I don’t think the Suzuki dealership in Kuwait ever experienced this much foot traffic or sold that many cars in a day. That probably has to do with the fact the new Jimny looks great and is very affordable. KD5,200 will get you the manual version while KD5,500 will get you the automatic.

So if you’re hoping to get a new Jimny or at least check it out in person, you’re going to have to pass by their showroom asap before they completely sell out. [Link]

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Element Fire Extinguishers

Post by Mark

Here’s a good business opportunity if you’re looking for one, get the distribution rights for Element fire extinguishers! I first heard about these fire extinguishers on one of the Lotus car forums since guys there are always looking to try and save weight. But then Jay Leno had the Element guys on his YouTube show Jay Leno’s Garage and after watching it, I ended up buying two for myself. I would have actually bought more so I could give them to my friends but I wanted to see if PostaPlus would ship them first.

What makes these fire extinguishers so special is mainly the size and weight, they’re extremely small and lightweight and yet in most cases perform much better than the larger old-fashioned fire extinguishers that use compressed air canisters. Not only that but the Element is also non-toxic and doesn’t create a white mess. Since I’m pretty limited with space in my Lotus, I decided to get the Element so I can just velcro it under my dashboard.

The model I got from Element costs around KD20 and lasts for around 50 seconds. In comparison, an old-fashioned fire extinguisher (similar to the one you probably have in your car) costs approximately KD7, lasts around 15 seconds and is much larger and heavier than the Element.

Even though I managed to get my Element fire extinguishers shipped by PostaPlus, it did take around two months time. That mostly had to do with them researching the product and making sure it was safe to ship and wasn’t hazardous since they had never shipped them before. Theoretically, the next time anybody orders the Element they shouldn’t have to go through this long process, but I also don’t want to risk it. I still need to get a couple of more Elements so I can keep at home, so someone please get the distribution rights, I really think these would sell like hotcakes in Kuwait!

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Al Mulla Group is the new Mercedes-Benz distributor in Kuwait

Post by Mark

Al Mulla Group have officially announced that they’re the new Mercedes-Benz distributor in Kuwait. Al Bisher & Al Kazemi have been the dealers for Mercedes-Benz in Kuwait since the 1950s so its a pretty big deal that its now going to Al Mulla Group.

Al Mulla Group are already distributors to a number of car brands in Kuwait including Acura, Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, and Mitsubishi. They officially takeover Mercedes from January 1st and you can read more about it in their official press release [Here]

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The Jaguar E-Pace

Post by Mark

Last week I was offered the opportunity to test drive the large Jaguar F-Pace SUV. But, I was actually curious to test drive their smaller SUV, the E-Pace. One of the things that attracted me to the E-Pace was the starting price of KD11,990. The car looked like it cost a lot more and so when I found out how much they were selling for, I became very intrigued by the car.

The E-Pace is a fairly new model by Jaguar that was launched last year. The car I picked up was what Jaguar calls “First Edition” and had a beautiful Caldera Red exterior with a full ebony black leather interior. The car looked really sporty and because it was the “First Edition”, it came standard with 20″ wheels, LED headlights, advanced drivers aids, a panoramic sunroof and a bunch of other cool features. I was really glad the car came with a black interior considering the exterior was a vibrant red. The black interior along with the “black pack” exterior which consists of blacked out parts and comes standard with the First Edition really helped tone things down.

I picked up the car Wednesday morning which was perfect timing since I had a Little Ruby’s event that night and I was picking up three friends on my way. Although the E-Pace is a crossover SUV, its still pretty spacious and my two friends who sat in the back had plenty of legroom. The interior looked very slick in black, with a large infotainment screen in the middle and contrasting red stitching all around. The car I drove had the upgraded Meridian sound system which I loved although not sure I’m a fan of the actual infotainment system as a whole. I was using the iPhone streaming music over USB and on multiple occasions, the infotainment system would just stop working with my phone. Annoying but not the end of the world since I solved it by just connecting by Bluetooth instead.

Personally, I love the way the car looks like and I’ve actually liked the design ever since the car was revealed. A lot of cars look good in photos but then when you see it in person its like bleh. Not in this case, although the striking red color with black interior might have played a role in this. Because the E-Pace is a crossover SUV it’s size is very manageable and not intimidating at all. I tend to love smaller cars since they’re easier and more fun to drive and although the E-Pace handled rough roads and smooth highways equally good, there was one thing I found super annoying, the sensitivity of the gas and brake pedals. I’m actually convinced the car I drove had some kind of issue since both pedals were extremely sensitive. Every car has different pedal sensitivity and usually, it takes maybe an hour of driving to get used to it. I had the car for three days and I still wasn’t used to the pedals to the point I was giving myself motion sickness. I solved the abrupt acceleration by putting the car in the snow/wet weather mode which skips the first gear on acceleration and so smoothened things out, but, I couldn’t solve the braking issue. Stepping on the brake pedal lightly didn’t really do much but then if I stepped on the pedal just slightly harder it would apply too much braking power causing the car to jerk. I couldn’t get comfortable with the ultra-sensitive pedals over the three days which was so bizarre.

Overall though its hard not to recommend the E-Pace with a starting price of just KD12,000. But, once you add options the car cost can balloon up past KD17,000, so if you’re looking for value, you’re going to have to sacrifice on options. I think the size is great for those looking for an SUV but don’t want something too big. The boot was also fairly large so you’re not really sacrificing much in terms of SUV practicality. Really the only major issue I had with the car was the pedal sensitivity, but since I couldn’t find anyone else online complaining about it, it must have been an issue with the specific car I drove. If you’re interested in test driving the E-Pace yourself, just pass by the showroom or get in touch with Jaguar, they’re on instagram @zayanijaguarkuwait

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Toyota Land Cruiser 70 Series

Post by Mark

You’ve probably seen the Land Cruisers 70 series on the road, they look like old cars because they originally came out in the early 80s but Toyota actually still builds them today with just minor changes. They’re probably one of Toyotas best sellers locally and on more than one occasion I’ve passed by the dealership only to be told the whole range was completely sold out. It’s mind-boggling which is why I’ve always been curious to drive one. Why are they so popular?

Personally, I became a big fan of the LC70 after coming upon Andrew White’s youtube channel. I was at one point considering getting a Land Rover Defender when I found one of his videos where he compares the two. Soon I was watching hours and hours of videos of him talking about his LC70 and all the stuff he’s done to it on his YouTube channel. At one point I was even contemplating renting an LC70 camper vehicle similar to his and going overlanding in South Africa.

My FJ is turning 9 years old in a few months and so I’ve been looking for a possible replacement for the past few years. Whatever I replace the FJ with has to be comfortable, durable and spacious. I was considering the 4-door LC70 because I loved the way they looked and their simplicity. The exterior hasn’t changed much since the early 80s so the cars don’t really get old in the same way the Mercedes G class or Land Rover Defender don’t get old. So last weekend I borrowed a friend’s 2-door Land Cruiser to test drive, and after giving it back I’m not sure I want one anymore.

The problem I had with the car was that it was just exhausting to drive. I drove the LC70 an hour out into the desert and then an hour back, and it felt like I had just gone on an 8-hour adventure. I can’t really pinpoint why the car exhausted me so much, it might have been because of the simple seats or the rough suspension, it might have been because the AC wasn’t cooling properly or maybe because the cabin noise was just too loud. Most likely, it was because of all of the above combined. Because the car hasn’t really changed much from the 80s, it lacks a lot of comforts. There’s no sound isolation which meant the interior was pretty noisy, it also meant there was no weather insulation so although the AC was blasting ice cold air, the car interior just wasn’t getting cold enough. The ride was pretty rough even on highways and the car I drove had an upgraded suspension so I can only imagine how much worse the ride is with the stock setup. The car was draining, even on short trips, driving felt like a chore.

On the other hand, I really love the way the car looks and I also love the barebones interior. Do we really need 3D surround view, heads-up displays, lane change and parking assist, massage chairs and digital dashboards? No, we don’t. The interior cabin although not that spacious was very bright and had incredible visibility because of the large windows and very small pillars. Most importantly though, the Land Cruiser felt like it would take a lot of abuse (and it can). But my favorite thing about the car has to be the fact when you’re buying an LC70, you’re actually buying a brand new vintage car.

The Land Cruiser 70 series starts close to KD9,000 and goes up past KD12,000 so they’re not cheap. You also don’t have many options locally, for example, the car comes with either a grey or beige/brown interior but the local dealer only gets the beige/brown one. Exterior colors are also limited to like 4. Do I love the car or do I hate it? I’m not really sure. I want to say I love it, but would I trade my FJ for one? The answer is no.

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The New Porsche Cayenne

Post by Mark

I was never a fan of the old Cayennes, not because I was Porsche purist and was upset that they had built an SUV, but because I thought they looked ugly. This new third generation Cayenne, on the other hand, is so hot looking which is why I got in touch with Porsche and asked them to borrow the car for the weekend.

Even before driving this third generation Cayenne I was pushing it off on friends. Anybody with a budget of around 30K I would quickly recommend the new Cayenne because it had two very important things going for it, a great looking exterior as well as a very modern looking interior. And, because the car just came out, you know this current look is going to be around for at least the next 7 years.

The model I picked up for the review was the “entry-level” Porsche Cayenne. After spending a weekend with this standard Cayenne I can tell you, you don’t need the faster Cayenne S or Turbo versions. The standard Cayenne with 340HP is no slouch which is what I was expecting it to be. The S version adds another 100HP on top of the standard Cayenne power and the Turbo version adds 200HP, but if you’re on a limited budget, get the standard Cayenne and use the money saved to fill it up with options. The car handled like you’d expect a Porsche to handle, it was very comfortable on bumpy roads but also stiff enough on fast hard turns. When I posted my Lexus LC500 review last week, a reader suggested I should test the cars by running them up and down the Crystal Tower parking lot so I decided to do just that for this review, as an agility test. If you don’t know the Crystal Tower parking lot, its known for being incredibly tight and people tend to scrape both sides of their cars going up and down the ramps. So I decided to have a bit of fun and mounted three GoPro’s to the Cayenne and decided to go up and down the lot to see how it handled tight turns. It passed! I think next time I should run the test when the parking is full since if the floors are empty it’s actually not that hard to maneuver through the floors.

The interior of the new Cayenne is another place it really shines. I personally think the Range Rover Velar raised the bar pretty high for slick and futuristic looking interiors but the new Cayenne manages to do that as well. The new Cayenne has a pretty huge screen with a really great looking infotainment system that also includes Apple’s CarPlay, but that’s just part of what makes the interior look so modern. The physical buttons in the center console area have now been replaced with backlit buttons and digital screens that are now touch sensitive. The whole center console looks like a giant screen and this helps give the interior such a modern look. Moving to the back the rear passengers have excellent legroom as well as having modern amenities like USB ports. The trunk is also pretty big and the rear seats fold down to make it even bigger but oddly enough, there are no controls in the trunk to automatically fold down the rear seats. I couldn’t find the option to add them either on the Porsche site which is bizarre because this is a pretty expensive car so you’d expect this pretty basic option.

Which brings us to the price. The starting price of the Cayenne is KD24,600 and I know this is going to sound weird, but that’s actually a pretty good deal. I would have expected the car to start much higher so I was pleasantly surprised when I found out how much they cost. 30,000 would get you a Cayenne S but as I mentioned earlier, I’d use the money saved going with the standard Cayenne to add all the options you want and there are A LOT of options to choose from. One of my favorite things about Porsche is how you can configure and build your own car on their website. Their online configurator allows you to spec the car the way you want it while showing you the exact cost, and then you can take your build to the dealership and just order it. I tend to build a Porsche maybe once every couple of weeks just for fun (don’t ask) and the Cayenne I built with all the options I wanted came out to around 31,000 which isn’t that bad.

So yeah I pretty much loved the car. I think like all Porsches the biggest issue with the Cayenne is that it’s going to end up being too popular and so you’ll start seeing a ton of them on the roads. If you want to check the car out and take it for a test drive you can as well, just head to the dealer and book a drive. Also make sure you check out the Porsche car configurator [Here]

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