No, the halls of the 2015 Dubai International Motor Show were not lined in gold. But we did get a reminder of where we were after we were kicked out of a hall because the big fella, Sheik Mohammed, vice president of the United Arab Emirates, was coming to check out (and maybe buy all of) the cars, and they needed to do a security sweep in advance of His Eminence’s arrival.
In fact, the stands at the Dubai World Trade Centre were about the same as you’d see at any big domestic or international auto show. Many of the world’s top automakers were there, primarily with cars that have been revealed elsewhere. But there were a few surprises. The Chinese were out in force, as was the Dubai Police Force with some of its supercar collection. And W Motors rolled in with a wild supercar.
Here were a couple of our favorite rides from the Dubai show. As-Salaam-Alaikum.
Dubai Police Force Cars
We had a chance to chat for a few with the man they call The Major: Colonel Mohammad Rashed Bin Seray Al Muhairi (say that name five times), the director of the Dubai Tourist Police Department, which has been operating for about three years now.
The Major was a super-cool guy, and he wanted us to know that his fleet is used primarily to make foreigners like us feel safe in his country. The cars are purchased by the Dubai Tourism Department and operated by his team. There are 14 cars in all in the fleet, with two more, a brand new Nissan GT-R and a McLaren, joining the group soon. All of them are specially outfitted for police duty.
Usually the cars are spread out across Dubai in heavy tourist areas as a way to make a stylish show of force. While we didn’t see any of them while we were traveling through the city, it’s good to know The Major and his team are out there.
For the show, they brought along a GT-R, Porsche Panamera S, BMW i8, and a Bentley Continental GT, not a bad grouping. It all started with a Lamborghini Aventador and has continued from there.
Thanks Major, we were honored to meet you and your team. And yes, we felt plenty safe.
Alfa Romeo 4C “La Furiosa”
We’re big fans of Alfa’s little sports car, and the special-edition 4C on the Alfa Romeo stand certainly made yet another, er, impression on us. La Furiosa was designed by Garage Italia Customs, an outfit created by Lapo Elkann, terminally hip fashionista and grandson of former Fiat CEO Gianni Agnelli. It isn’t any more furious in the engine bay, as it’s mechanically the same as any other 4C. But with its partially exposed carbon-fiber roof hat, special paint job primarily in matte Accursio red with a gradient effect into black, gold rims, and other unique bits, the Furiosa looks pretty wild. The best part is the interior, which is awash in red Alcantara with black accents and what looked to be upgraded seats, a welcome improvement from the stock car’s sparse cabin.
W Motors Fenyr SuperSport
If you’ve seen “Fast and Furious 7,” (and really, who hasn’t?), then you may recall a wild angular, vaguely Lamborghini-looking machine jumping from skyscraper to skyscraper (virtually, of course) during the movie. Called the Lykan HyperSport (red car, below), it was the first foray into car building by W Motors, a United Arab Emirates-based brand looking to make its mark in the hypercar realm. Powered by a 740-hp, 3.7-liter twin-turbo flat six developed by Ruf, only seven copies of the $3.4 million HyperSport were produced, making it one of the most exclusive — and expensive — cars in the world.
The price? A more pedestrian $1.85 million is the number being thrown around. That’s considerably less cash and it’s more powerful than the Lykan, so consider it a bargain. It’s also less exclusive, with W Motors saying it will build a whopping 25 copies a year.
2017 Cadillac XT5
Here’s a fact of the day for you. The Cadillac SRX is the best-selling vehicle in Cadillac’s portfolio by a long shot, with more than 81,000 sold so far through October of this year. So there’s a lot riding on its replacement, the new 2017 XT5, which features a number of firsts for Cadillac. It’s the first Cadillac to be underpinned by GM’s new midsize crossover platform. It’s the first Cadillac with a shift-by-wire transmission, and the first with Cadillac’s Rear Camera Mirror, which overlays an image from the backup camera over the rearview mirror that reportedly provides a 300 percent greater field of vision than a standard backup camera. It’s also the first to offer a so-called “twin clutch” all-wheel-drive system that can route 100 percent of its torque to the front or rear axles. Oh, and it’s the first XT model, one of four new crossovers coming from Cadillac. The U.S.-market version has one powertrain, GM’s new-generation 3.6-liter V-6 with 310 hp, mated to an 8-speed automatic.
Cadillac is looking to amp-up its global presence, so it used the Dubai show to make the XT5’s world debut. And it partnered up with New York fashion house Public School, which did a little runway show of its own before the XT5 took its star turn at the event.
Dongfeng Off-Road Vehicles Mengshi
No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you: this Dongfeng is a Chinese take on the AM General Humvee. In fact, Dongfeng worked with AM General on the development of the Mengshi, which is also known as the EQ2050, so no crying copycat this time, even though it is basically a Humvee. Primarily built for the Chinese Army, the Mengshi comes in multiple variants, including civilian versions. It’s powered by a 3.9-liter Cummins diesel engine built in China, backed by a 5-speed manual and 2-speed transfer box.
Nissan Patrol Nismo
The Patrol is a common sight in Dubai. The denizens of the UAE clearly seem to dig the big Nissan, so much so that the sixth-generation model was launched in Abu Dhabi at a VIP event. We get the Infiniti QX80 over here in the states, but not the Patrol, which means we only get to look at, and not drive, the Nismo version. Pity. Nissan’s Nismo performance arm is starting to branch out into its broader lineup, and the Patrol is one of the latest models to get the makeover. Its 5.6-liter V-8 has been tuned by Takumi and generates 428 hp (versus 400 hp stock) and an improved torque curve. It’s mated to a seven-speed automatic with a manual mode. Nismo has tuned up the Patrol’s suspension as well, adding Bilstein shocks to the mix. Plenty of Nismo kit adorns the interior and exterior, with 22-inch Rays forged alloy rims and rear dual exhaust with diffuser among the highlights.
Toyota 86 Drift Car
We weren’t able to find out much about this car, but it’s so awesome we had to show it and especially its front wheels, which are extended way out past the fenders. We did find out it is a one-off machine owned by a gentleman named Ahmed al Amery, who is well known in regional drift circles and who can usually be found getting sideways and billowing smoke in it at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi.
Panoz Esperante GTR-1 Street Car
Back in the late ’90s, in order to race at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, you had to homologate a companion street car in order to compete, and so the 1997 Panoz Esperante GTR-1 Le Mans Homologation Special was born. According the Panoz, the car on the stand in Dubai is the only remaining car built during that time and was lovingly restored for some six months before its appearance at the show.
The front-engine Panoz Esperante GTR-1 race car, which was a unique setup for the era, was powered by a 6.0-liter Ford-sourced V-8 and competed in international endurance racing from 1997 to 2003. It snagged five overall wins and nine class victories during its run.
While it has a full leather interior and is indeed street legal, this bad boy looks every bit the part of a full blown race car, and no doubt would be an amazing sight out on the highway. It’s pushing 600 hp and more than 500 lb-ft of torque and weighs only 1,980 lb, with Brembos all around and OZ Racing center-lock rims. Oh, and if you want, Panoz will build you a replica starting at a cool $890,000 — chump change for someone like Sheik Mohammed.