3 04, 2019

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class

2019-04-03T18:48:19+03:00Apr 3, 2019|22 Comments

The new 2019 G-Class might look like every G-Class built since the 70s, but the 2019 model is a completely new car with some obvious and not so obvious differences. I borrowed this car from a friend of mine who was traveling and got to spend a few days with it. Just like the previous generation G-Class, the new 2019 model has its quirks, but they’re minor stuff and this is a car I’d really love to own.

The changes on the exterior of the car are not dramatic, they’re minor and most people wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the previous and current generation models. The new model is slightly curvier which some diehards hate, but I think it works. Where the biggest changes are visible though is on the inside.

The new G-Class has one of the nicest interiors of any car and that mostly has to do with the new digital dash and large infotainment screen. Mercedes have found a way to seamlessly integrate both screens into the interior by laying them down side by side on the dashboard under one sheet of glass. This gives the impression that it’s one long screen stretching from the driver’s door all the way to the end of the center console. I really love it and I think it gives the interior a very futuristic look. The infotainment system software is also nicely designed, I’m not sure how Lexus is fine with their 90s looking infotainment system when their biggest competitor has something so good looking in their cars. Other than the car’s default infotainment system you also have the option to use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The only issue I have with the infotainment system is that it doesn’t have a touch screen. I’m used to using CarPlay with a touch screen and being forced to use a dial or touchpad to move around CarPlay felt like a bit of a mess. That’s really my biggest quibble with the car.

The interior was also very comfortable, while with the previous generation I struggled to fight a comfortable seating position this time around it was really easy. The interior also felt more spacious and it was generally a great place to be. The ride is comfortable, the soundproofing is extremely good and the car felt very solid and could take abuse.

I like the combination of an old school exterior with a very modern interior and I wish more cars did this. The G-Class comes loaded with modern features like brake assist, active distance assist, surround view cameras and parking assist just to name a few. Active distance assist is probably my favorite feature, it works great in traffic since it accelerates, slows down and stops the car for you without you having to do anything. So you could be on your phone watching a youtube video and the car will keep you moving in traffic without requiring your attention.

There are currently two versions of the new G-Class available, the G500 which has 422hp and the G63 which has 585hp. You do NOT need the G63, nobody needs it! I found the G500 more than capable power-wise for an SUV that’s shaped like a brick, plus the G63 is a lot more expensive. Earlier I mentioned my biggest issue with the car was the lack of touch screen, well I lied. The biggest issue I have with the G-Class is the price. The new 2019 G-Class starts at KD38,000 while the G63, on the other hand, starts at a whopping KD55,000.

38,000 is about what I feel this car is worth when fully optioned out but, the G500 actually peeks out at around 50,000 when all the options are clicked. If I’m paying 50,000 I want to feel special and I don’t think the G-Class feels that special anymore. They’re too common on the roads and that takes away from the special feel. In reality though, what luxury SUV isn’t a common sight in Kuwait? They’re all plentiful.

Do I want a G-Class? Yes, I do. I love the size, I love the interior and I love that it can take my abuse. But with all the options I’d want to fit into this car, I’m going to be wayyy past the 38,000 starting price.

If you’re interested in checking out the new G-Class, here is the instagram account of the dealer @mercedesbenzkuwait

10 03, 2019

Le Petit Chef Experience

2019-03-10T11:15:56+03:00Mar 10, 2019|2 Comments

A couple of weeks back, The Regency Hotel got in touch with me and asked me if I’d be interested in experiencing “Le Petit Chef” since they were hosting it in Kuwait for a limited time. I quickly googled it and found the video below and it looked interesting, so I accepted their invitation.

Le Petit Chef is a dining experience based around a mini animated chef and his culinary adventures following the footsteps of Marco Polo. The experience combines 3D projection onto your table and a 6-course meal composed of dishes from around the world. I was told the show was 2 hours long so I had warned my friend we might end up leaving before the show was over if I got bored. Surprisingly, I didn’t and we ended up staying till the very end.

The show started at 8:30PM but we were told to get there early for pre-drinks. The 6-course meal also has an option of drinks to go along with it, and I’m pretty they’re all meant to be alcoholic drinks that were turned into mocktails for Kuwait. When one of the drinks arrived I told my friend it looked like a smoked rosemary whisky sour and when I tried it, I realized it was, just without the whisky of course. At one point during the dinner, the waiter even asked us if we wanted white or red wine with one of the courses. Cute.

Just before the show started we were all led downstairs to one of The Regency’s restaurants which is currently hosting Le Petit Chef. The setup is pretty simple, but it works. Every table had a projector over it that projected 3D footage onto the table. Items like plates and trays get placed in predefined spots on the table so that whatever is being projected looks like it’s interacting with the real physical items.

The show was pretty cheesy, but I actually enjoyed it. The food was ok, nothing really special but I still had a good time because I hadn’t experienced anything like it before. It’s like those restaurants that serve you food in complete darkness or the sub zero ice bars, they’re gimmicks you experience once with a friend, have fun but never go back to. Le Petit Chef is pretty much the same. Two hours ended up flying by without feeling too long nor with me getting bored (which is impressive).

The price, on the other hand, is going to be a bit hard to swallow. The 6-course meal costs KD39 per person, while the accompanying drinks are an extra KD12. So it’s not a place you’d want to take kids to. My recommendation? Skip the drinks, they’re too many and there’s no alcohol involved so you won’t enjoy them. The show is running for a limited time only and takes place daily at 8:30PM except for Sundays. If you’re interested you need to call and book ahead of time on 25766880.

4 03, 2019

Hot Pot at Da Wang

2019-03-04T14:53:23+03:00Mar 4, 2019|14 Comments

A couple of months ago a new hot pot place opened in Salmiya called Da Wang. It’s a small hole in the wall located right behind Holiday Inn. I passed by in the evening and the first thing that stuck out for me was how incredibly bright the interior was. Just super bright white lights with very white walls. The place was empty except for one table that had a couple who were finishing up their meal and watching TV which was hanging on the wall in front of them.

Da Wang’s menu is fairly small [Link], on one side they have 10 Asian dishes with favorites like Bulgogi and Bibim Bap, while on the back side they have their Hot Pot menu. Their Hot Pot menu is pretty cool, you get to choose between a normal chicken broth, a spicy one, or a hot bot split into two, normal and spicy. You then have a large list of all the proteins and veggies you can order for the hot pot and since we were there for the hot pot, that’s what we ended up ordering.

If you don’t know what a hot pot is, this is how wikipedia describes it:

Hot pot is a Chinese cooking method, prepared with a simmering pot of soup stock at the dining table, containing a variety of East Asian foodstuffs and ingredients. While the hot pot is kept simmering, ingredients are placed into the pot and are cooked at the table, in a manner similar to fondue.

But if you’ve never had a hot pot before you shouldn’t worry, what I loved about Da Wang the most was the extremely friendly service. Every step of the way the waiter would double check with us if we knew what to do and if we didn’t, he was willing to step in and show us or explain things.

The reason I felt like having hot pot is because I recently had an amazing experience at a place in Dubai called Fujiya. It was an eat all you can eat Wagyu Shabu Shabu Japanese restaurant that a friend recommended, and there might have been a lot of alcohol involved, but I do remember the food being incredibly good.

My experience at the Da Wang wasn’t as good as at Fujiya, and it’s mostly because of the quality of the meat. I ordered lamb and beef and between the two I preferred the beef but, it could have been sliced a lot thinner and the quality could have been a lot better. A friend told me I did it wrong and I should actually buy my own meat and then take it with me to Da Wang. I guess I’m going to have to try that.

The bill didn’t come out to much but if you do decide to go to Da Wang make sure you take cash with you since they don’t have knet yet. If you forget it’s not that big of a deal since there is an ATM machine inside Holiday Inn across the street. Da Wang are on instagram @dawangkuwait and here is their location on [Google Maps]

If you have a favorite hot pot place in Kuwait let me know about it.

3 03, 2019

Review: First Open Track at Kuwait Motor Town

2019-03-03T11:48:55+03:00Mar 3, 2019|50 Comments

Yesterday I took part in the first open track event at Kuwait Motor Town and I had such a great experience I had to share it on the blog. The day after it still feels a bit unreal, not only do we finally have our very own race track in Kuwait, but it’s a great one as well!

National Circuit (4,540M)

Our track layout is just incredible! They had the National Circuit layout open for yesterdays event (pictured above) and compared to the two track layouts I’ve raced on in Bahrain, I think ours is way more fun. It’s fast, long and there is a lot going on all the way. I was worried the track might favor larger more powerful cars but I think it works really favorably for mine.

The video above is a full lap around the track starting from the pit lane exit. Sorry about the sound, and RIP little bug my GoPro killed halfway through.

The open track started from very early in the morning. According to the schedule they sent us we were meant to arrive around 8:30 so we could start with the registration process before the drivers briefing at 9:20. I got there early around 8:15AM and to my surprise, there were cars there already. People actually started showing up on time and so the drivers briefing started on schedule with a brief about the track, the different warning flags as well as giving us a bunch of safety tips. Super informative for first time open trackers.

This is probably a good time to highlight the fact that the team working at KMT yesterday were extremely professional. Everyone knew what they were doing and the whole thing was extremely organized. It didn’t feel like their first open track event, it felt like it was something they had been doing for years and that was impressive.

I didn’t count the number of cars yesterday, but I think we were around 60 in total since I was #59. They divided us into two groups, I was in Group B. Another example of how organized they were, they handed out lanyards with our names and group letter on the front, while the backside had the days schedule. That was incredibly practical, in Bahrain we’re always asking what time lunch is or when our turn is etc..

Once we were done with the briefing we took our cars into the pitlane. The pits I think were the most disappointing part about KMT. They were small, had low ceilings and the bathrooms felt cheap and flimsy. That’s one thing I prefer about Bahrain’s circuit over ours and it’s my only complaint about Kuwait Motor Town. But, it’s not a deal breaker.

The first sessions of the day involved following a lead car. This wasn’t at very high speeds and it was to familiarize ourselves with the track and the racing lines. Once those practice sessions were done, it was flat out racing and it was so much fun. I had a bunch of friends in the same group as me so we just spent the day racing each other. The video above was shot from inside my car and kind of gives you an idea of how it feels to race in an open track event. The track is overexposed in the video but you can still make out the tarmac and the cars so it’s watchable. Keep in mind there are no winners in an open track event, it’s all just for fun.

The event finished at 5PM just as the sun was setting. It’s a beautiful track and looked even better as the sun was setting. I really had such a blast yesterday and now I can’t wait till the next open track event. No offense to ASCC and JACC, but this is by far my favorite Diwan Al Amiri project. Thank you KMT for hosting such a great track day. For more information about Kuwait Motor Town and a list of their upcoming events, here is a link to their [Website]

5 02, 2019

The Ferrari 812 Superfast

2019-02-05T19:19:38+03:00Feb 5, 2019|12 Comments

I wish my review for this car could be just a 😳 because really that’s all I need to describe it. The Ferrari 812 Superfast is the ultimate Ferrari you can buy excluding the limited edition models, and it was the only Ferrari model left from their current lineup that I hadn’t driven yet. It lies on top of the Ferrari foodchain with an engine that is considered to be the most powerful naturally aspirated engine on a production car ever made. It has 789hp which is freakin’ insane!

I can’t emphasize enough how batshit crazy this car is when the roads are dry but I picked it up when it had just started raining. A 789hp rear wheel drive car in the rain in my hands could have turned into something messy really quick. Thankfully, the rain didn’t last long and I survived to tell the tale. And you know what’s bizarre? The 812 is meant to be a daily driver! I have no idea who needs 800 horsepower on a racetrack let alone to drive to the office or the supermarket, but I love it! It’s overkill of course but you kinda have to be nowadays to stick out next to the likes of the McLaren 720s and the Lamborghini Aventador.

But, what I liked about the 812 is that Ferrari allows you to choose the character you play in the car. Are you going to be the successful CEO driving like a normal adult on the way to an important meeting? Or are you going to be a complete moron with the car and try to kill yourself? I’m the second option for sure but the important thing here is you have the choice. Although it has nearly 800hp, if you want to drive the 812 like a normal human being you can absolutely do that. In normal driving conditions, the car engine and exhaust sound are fairly subdued, and with the windows rolled up you can barely hear the outside world. Add to that the ride quality is also incredibly good even when driving over our pothole-ridden roads. I swear I kept forgetting I was in a supercar because of how good the ride quality was. If there is just one thing I wished my Lotus had from this Ferrari, it wouldn’t be the power or the beautiful interior, it would just be the suspension. I keep mentioning this in all my Ferrari reviews but it’s unreal how good the ride quality is on their cars.

So yeah, the Ferrari can be “normal”, in the same way Bruce Banner is also a normal guy.

As soon as you downshift a few gears and step on the gas, things change incredibly fast. I’ve never been so scared to put my foot down as much as I was in the 812. Clearly, the name Superfast was given to the car after one of their test drivers took the car out for the first time because that’s exactly how I’d describe it. Once you step on it the car suddenly starts screaming like an F1 car right as the shift-lights on the steering wheel start lighting up like a Christmas tree. I don’t think I was able to keep my foot down for longer than 3 seconds at any point during the 2 days I had the car.

It’s a monster underneath but so civil on the outside. It has a pretty large trunk and all the amenities of a luxury car like front and rear cameras, a dual-zone climate system, fully adjustable electric seats, an incredible sound system and lots of soft luxurious leather everywhere. But it’s a crazy freakin’ monster.

The car I drove had a retail price of around KD130,000 which makes it one of the most expensive Ferraris you can buy at the dealership. I was thinking to myself if it was worth it or not, as in if I had the money and was in the market for a Ferrari would I get the 812 Superfast? And the answer to that is no, my heart still belongs to the Ferrari GTC4Lusso. For a bit less than the price of an 812 Superfast, the GTC4Lusso for me is a more practical daily car with rear seats that also fold down like in a hatchback. But then again, this is such a first world problem to have trying to decide between the two. I actually just checked the Ferrari pre-owned cars list and the the 812 I borrowed is listed for sale at KD115,000. So if you want to check it out or at least check out more photos of the car then click [Here]

29 01, 2019

Carriage Black – One Month Later

2019-01-29T08:36:54+03:00Jan 29, 2019|41 Comments

Early this month, Carriage launched their free delivery service where for just KD3.5, you get an unlimited amount of free deliveries for a month. I signed up to it right away and so far I’m loving it.

Before Carriage Black, I used to order from Carriage once or twice a day at least, now its double that. One of the reasons for this is I’ve now started using their groceries section a lot more. For example, I ran out of milk last week and didn’t feel like driving to the supermarket, so I just ordered a bottle through Carriage. Their free delivery service has made their Groceries section a lot more convenient.

Another thing I’ve started doing is ordering snacks on Carriage. Before going to the gym I now order healthy power balls from Clean Eats or if I feel like chocolate, I order a bar from Rococoa. Before their free delivery service, it didn’t make financial sense to order small cheap items.

One thing I was worried about was that the quality of their delivery service would drop but so far since I’ve signed up, I haven’t had any delivery delays. If anything, delivery has been quicker this month. The only thing I’m concerned about is with people abusing the service by ordering cheap items just for the heck of it.

KD3.5 a month for unlimited free deliveries is too good a deal to pass, so if you haven’t signed up for it already, you probably should.

27 01, 2019

Ferrari F12 Berlinetta

2019-01-27T10:56:56+03:00Jan 27, 2019|9 Comments

You’d think the most stressful part of reviewing a Ferrari would be the part where I take a Ferrari out that isn’t mine, on roads which are in terrible condition, surrounded by people who can’t drive yet are all too busy on their phones and then try and bring the car back to the dealer in one piece. Instead, what really stresses me out is trying to find a place to shoot the cars. It’s so hard finding a nice clean backdrop for a shoot which I haven’t abused already like my favorite strip of road in the desert or the rooftop across from Mayar Complex. I can’t keep taking pictures in the same spot so I don’t take out as many cars out as I’d like. With Ferraris, it’s even more difficult since instead of having the car for the weekend like with most brands, I have to instead pick up the car early morning and then drop it off in the evening before they close. Sounds like a first world problem but when car dealers lend me a car, they’re hoping to get nice photos taken in return and I want to keep getting nice cars so I need to keep taking nice shots. With the Ferrari F12, this was the first time I was allowed to keep the car overnight so I decided to try something new.

The Ferrari F12 Berlinetta I picked up is part of the Ferrari pre-owned collection. It’s a 2016 model and had done around 6,500km when I picked it up. It’s the model the preceded the new Ferrari 812 SuperFast which I’m hoping to pick up sometime this week. The F12 has a 6.3L V12 engine producing 730HP making it the fourth most powerful Ferrari road car produced to date. That sounds crazy except then you find out that the F12 is actually meant to be a daily driver and you’re like wtf?! It’s got an insane amount of power, too much power for our fairly short and unexciting roads, but it also has all the comforts and luxury features you’d find on a high-end luxury car plus a large trunk in case you need to drop a friend off to the airport or pick up a few items from IKEA. It’s really why I had my eye on the car a couple of years ago.

At one point before getting my Lotus I was actually checking out the F12’s in the secondhand market. I really wanted the 4 seater Ferrari FF since it would have been the perfect daily driver, but since there weren’t any used ones for sale I started looking at F12’s since they were also meant to be great daily drivers. For the short time I had the F12 last week, I did find it very comfortable and pretty quiet when the windows rolled up. Yup quiet, the exhaust sound on the F12 sounds fairly normal when driving around like a normal human being and the cars sound proofing really helps isolate you from all the sounds outside the car. It’s really only once you lower the windows and get aggressive with your driving does it start sounding like the fourth most powerful Ferrari road car ever produced. I always like that good and evil side to cars, it makes the car more bareable to live with over the long run. Another thing I really loved about the F12 is the minimal interior and the fact you can’t see the stereo. The stereo is usually one of the first things in a car that quickly gets outdated, by integrating the sound system into the main car interface which is in the drivers dashboard next to the large RPM dial, there isn’t anything anymore to get dated. Even the car’s interface graphics have been kept to a minimal I presume to keep the car looking good for a very long time. I think it works.

Since I was able to keep the F12 overnight, I decided I wanted to try some light painting for my photo. To light paint a car you need to take it to a fairly dark area, then take the photo with a very long shutter speed while you paint the car with a light source, in my case a flashlight. What this allows you to do is keep the location around the car dark and moody, but get your car nicely lit. I ended up driving around close to midnight looking for an interesting parking lot to shoot the car before settling on the spot above. I think the shot came out pretty good for my first try at light painting. I actually think I could have light painted the top of the car slightly more but I only noticed that later once I got home and it was too late to do anything about it. If you want you can check out the photo of the car normally exposed without any light painting, click [Here]

After spending time with the F12 I can’t wait to take out the Ferrari 812. Actually while writing this post I realized I really want to take out the Ferrari FF and I think they have one or two pre-owned ones available so I might ask Ferrari if I could do that. For now, if you’re interested in checking out their pre-owned collection, you can do so online by visiting the Al-Zayani website [Here]

16 01, 2019

Lotus Exige 380 Cup – 1 Year Later

2019-01-16T22:02:50+03:00Jan 16, 2019|8 Comments

Since we’re on the subject of cars, exactly a year ago I picked up my 380 Cup from the dealership and since then I’ve done around 10,000KM on the car including four track days in Bahrain. Because Lotus isn’t very popular in Kuwait (or anywhere else really), I decided I’d do a writeup, a sort of a long term review of the car and the local dealership.

As some of you know I had another Lotus before this one. That one kept giving me random problems, but this Lotus has been pretty good so far. I’ve really only had two issues and both were minor:

– Front access panel would loosen up at high speed
– Hazard light button would get stuck sometimes

Both those issues were fixed easily under warranty. Speaking of which, my car’s warranty expires today since it’s just a 1-year warranty. This is the only Lotus I am aware of that has a 1-year warranty, I think the rest have 2 or 3 years but because mine is a special edition with only 60 built, it has just a 1-year. That really sucks but Lotus have the option to extend the warranty for another year for a fee. I’m currently waiting to hear from them how much that fee is, hopefully, it won’t be much.

I actually just got the car back from Bahrain this Sunday. I had kept the car in Bahrain for a bit more than 6 weeks so I could take part in open track days on the Bahrain International Circuit while saving money on having to keep shipping the car back and forth. I got three track days done and just brought back the car to Kuwait so I can get the oil changed and 10,000KM service done. My Lotus did not miss our horrible broken roads that’s for sure.

On the track, the car has been great. I pretty much drive it hard non-stop through the whole session and don’t run into any overheating issues or even brake pedal fade. After four track days, the brake pads are also still full and even the Michelin Cup 2 tires not that worn. Having a lightweight car definitely saves you a lot in consumables. On normal roads, day to day driving I find the car super fun to drive. My car is the European spec, not the GCC spec so it doesn’t have the secondary AC unit behind the seats which my previous Lotus had. I used to find that AC freezing cold 10 months out of the year and it was super annoying because you couldn’t turn off the secondary AC unit. With this Lotus, for 2 months of the year I drive it mostly at night, but then the rest of the year the AC is more than enough. I actually didn’t really face any major cooling issues during the summer, the AC cooled the car enough but I also always parked it in shaded parking. I’d imagine the car would take a long time to cool down if you parked it in the sun, but really I don’t miss the dual AC system of the GCC spec cars. If you’re wondering what the advantage of a Euro spec car is, basically because you have space behind the seats you can install a 4-way seat belt harness and bar. You can’t do that on GCC spec cars since that gap behind the seats is taken with the secondary AC unit.

Moneywise I haven’t really spent that much on the car. I paid around KD200 for the harness bar and 4-way seatbelt, I bought a new racing helmet and gloves, but that’s really it. Oh and I changed the oil back in December before sending the car to Bahrain and it cost me KD60 at the dealership. That isn’t too bad, double what I pay for my FJ, but also like a fifth of the cost of a Lamborghini oil change. So it’s reasonable in that sense. But I do have an issue with the dealer’s prices on parts. New brake pads at the dealer costs KD358, but the same OEM pads can be ordered online for KD100 and KD200 would get you some serious racing pads. I’m not to concerned about the price of the pads since I can just order them online when the time comes. But what I am concerned about is larger pieces like body panels. I’m worried if I crash on the race track how much the body panels and carbon fiber parts are going to cost and I’m too afraid to ask. I don’t think it’s the fault of the local dealer since the local dealer gets everything through Dubai. I think Lotus Dubai are the reason to blame on the high cost of parts.

Generally, though I’m really satisfied with Alghanim who are the local dealer’s. Everyone is just extremely friendly and helpful from the mechanics to the showroom manager up to the aftersales manager. I also love the fact that I’ve got the mechanics on Whatsapp and I just message them before I head over, it makes the service feel very personalized. My only gripes with the dealership are minor, the first being the fact I hate passing by the dealership and seeing dirty and dusty Lotuses parked outside. That cheapens the brand and there is no reason not to keep them nice and clean especially since they’re the test drive cars. The second issue I have is with their instagram account, it’s not very active, the stories they post are lame and their phones camera lens is always dirty. Again I feel it cheapens the brand. Not only that but whoever is running their instagram account doesn’t know their cars well and I’ve had to leave a comment more than once correcting them. Not only that but I setup an account for my car a few months ago (@380cup) and I get more likes and engagement than the dealers instagram account, so they’re clearly doing something wrong. I should probably work out some sort of deal with them where they hand over the account to me to manage in return I get like free service or something.

In the end, I’m really really happy with the car and I’m so glad I traded in my older Exige for this one. I still look back at the car after parking it and I still get excited every morning knowing I’ll be driving the Lotus to work. If you’re looking for a sports car you can track, I’d highly recommend the Lotus and the local Lotus dealership.