Ed speak


I SPENT THE BEST PART OF THIS MONTH be­hind the wheel of an… umm… Scorpio. Not the words you’d ex­pect at the front of a per­for­mance-fo­cused mag­a­zine but not every­day can be spent drift­ing a 600bhp su­per-saloon. And in any case it’s hard to see the world through the smoke screen in the side win­dow. Nope, road­trip­ping needs some­thing like the Hexa I drove last month through the North East or the Scorpio that I mo­tored through Iran and Azer­bai­jan this month.

What a coun­try Iran is! Ev­ery­thing we’d read about it, it’s all hog­wash. As a driv­ing des­ti­na­tion it is fab­u­lous: the in­fra­struc­ture is bril­liant, traf­fic dis­ci­pline very good (by our stan­dards), their towns and cities sur­pris­ingly beau­ti­ful and drip­ping with his­tory and cul­ture, the moun­tains snow-capped, and deserts of­fer crazy of­froad­ing po­ten­tial. No­body both­ers you, let­ting aside the cu­rios­ity value of a dozen flag-flut­ter­ing and liv­er­ied Mahin­dras. The food is great, though a cold one means a Pepsi. And be­cause the road net­work is as good as the best in Europe, cer­tainly bet­ter than any­thing we have here, you can go from the scorch­ing deserts to cold moun­tains in a day. Lan­guage can be a bit of a chal­lenge, you’ve got to re­cip­ro­cate the Ira­nian’s su­per-po­lite­ness and so­cial me­dia is (of­fi­cially) blocked, but nei­ther of those are in­sur­mount­able. Trust me on this – a road trip through Iran is a great idea for your next hol­i­day.

Trust me on this too. The Az­eri cap­i­tal, Baku, is a much bet­ter Dubai. It isn’t a to­tal un­known, now that it is on the F1 cal­en­dar, but see­ing it in real life blows you away. It’s all new, new, new – new build­ings, new struc­tures, new mu­se­ums, a new Sydney Opera-style, err, opera house, and all of it done over the past ten years. You want to know what un­lim­ited amounts of oil money can do – go and check out Baku, ex­cept here it is done with class and a beau­ti­ful sense of aes­thetic. The weather is also much nicer, the Caspian sea is bluer, the visa process is a breeze and the sur­round­ing coun­try­side has more to of­fer. Like a Zoroas­trian-Hindu fire tem­ple (!), plenty of Ladas and even more old W210 and W211 Mercs.

And thanks to Mahin­dra Ad­ven­ture I saw it all through the wind­screen of a Scorpio. The road trip starts on page 125. But be­fore that the se­ri­ous evo tests start on page 28 with the McLaren Senna. Good god. What. A. Car. ⌧

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