The good old Ambassador kick-started your passion for cars, right?
I guess it did. I remember during my teens that I loved the Ambassador back in India. In fact, my uncle owned two of them. One was silver and the other golden. During my college days, I rode motorbikes, because they were more manageable given the Mumbai traffic, but I would say my passion for cars ignited once I landed in Dubai. The roads here are simply phenomenal and it makes driving a true pleasure.
It’d be great if people could drive better on them! What kind of driver would you describe yourself as?
I am a responsible driver who doesn’t speed unnecessarily, and I like to think I’m courteous, too. You won’t find me doing any burnouts, even though I own a smoke machine…
We’ll get to your Charger in a tick. But before we do, take us back to your very first car. What was it?
When I got my drivers license here in the UAE, I remember I had around Dh10,000 in savings, and I immediately decided I would buy the best that would get me instead of renting a car.
Moreover, I do not like the idea of buying cars on loans. My first car was a Ford Escort with a 1.6-litre, which fitted my budget and left me with some cash in hand.
I remember I called my parents over from India when this purchase was made simply to drive them around Dubai. It was indeed a proud feeling for the family.
After the Escort, I switched to a Nissan Primera, followed by a Honda Accord, a three-door Mitsubishi Pajero, a nippy Peugeot 407 coupé, a Jeep Wrangler Sahara and then my current car, the Dodge Charger R/T.
They provide a great balance between driving pleasure and practicality...
Absolutely yes, and I would urge anyone looking for a new car to try out the Charger.
Undoubtedly, it is a big car, but the engineering and vehicle dynamics makes it very practical for daily commuting and the 5.7-litre Hemi V8 is quite fuel efficient.
Did you always want one? If so, why?
I have always admired the Charger, but I felt the spoilers and the larger rims on the new model boosted the already aggressive looks of the car. I wanted a Charger R/T, but without the aggressive bodykit. Surprisingly, I came across one on Shaikh Zayed Road at Automall without the bling — I was quite amazed. The car looked pleasant and suited my taste. My mind was made up and so I bought it.
And did you make the right decision?
Yes for sure. I love the stable ride, the grand feeling of it and the power at my disposal. From a practical perspective, it provides a very comfortable ride, has a spacious cabin, excellent air conditioning and fabulous sound system. My clients really appreciate it, too. In fact, I recall one telling me it was like travelling in business class!
That Hemi V8 is a torque monster. It must be a real blast to drive...
The torque is phenomenal, but one has to be very cautious about speeding, because it can really take off. The performance is very impressive, and one can really enjoy it during a long drive. It pulls exceptionally hard off the line and can hit 0-100kph in around six seconds.
Trying to keep it in a straight line when you mash the throttle is a lot fun. It has a five-speed tiptronic, which can handle the 370 horses the Hemi throws at it.
It looks and sounds great. But as you say, it’s a big car. Does that make it difficult to drive?
You can’t weave in and out of traffic in it like is possible in, say, a Golf GTI. But even though this a large car, it is quite easy to manoeuvre in tight situations.
You must feel pretty special when you are out on an open road and hammering the big V8.
I do. I think the Charger gives its owners a real feel-good factor. You can’t help but smile when you are behind the wheel of it.
It’s designed to be driven hard and things invariably go wrong with muscle cars. Does it give you any problems?
Touch wood, no problems at all. The car has only done about 27,000km and is firing on all cylinders. Given the size of the engine and the solid build quality, it will last a very long time.
It has a strong personality and people look up to the car because it is powerful. I’d say these cars appeal to certain kinds of people. People who are strong minded and who have a will to win. It is a toy for grown-up boys and certainly appeals to them the most.
You have some plans to beef up the performance. What are they?
I plan to install a Mopar air-intake system and perhaps a Poweraid throttle body spacer in the near future. Other than that, I am quite happy with it. I liken it to a professional bodybuilder who never shows off until he is on stage and ready to compete.
What would you love to own one day?
A black, supercharged Range Rover Sport.
Name Rajiv Ghanekar
Job Associate director
From Mumbai, India
Wheels 2011 Dodge Charger R/T
In the UAE 14 years