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. ⌧