In Dubai, cash flows into the hands of luxury car dealerships as freely the water in the choreographed fountain display at the base of the world-tallest Burj Khalifa shoots to the heavens. You’re never far from a tuned Ferrari or Lamborghini, a murdered-out G-Wagen or gold-trimmed Rolls.
You’d thus be forgiven for assuming the Dubai International Motor Show would be an outright parody of blingy excess. That’s partially true — the aftermarket neighborhood in one of the lesser halls readily entertains your more ostentatious automotive fantasies — but the show proper is as businesslike the people whose world-dominating aspirations draw them into this gleaming desert convention center in the first place.
That doesn’t mean it’s not a fun show, though — not with the unfamiliar array of hypercars and armored sandcrawlers displayed as tastefully as possible alongside the more, shall we say, “conventional” fare. Below, the most extreme machines shown off in this Middle Eastern automotive oasis.
The Familiar Faces
Dubai is famous for its bold, imposing construction projects as well as its artful design work on same. So it’s fitting that one of the two properly notable reveals at the Motor Show comes in the form of Infiniti’s massive QX80 SUV. The formerly bulbous vehicle doesn’t exactly slim down with this refresh, but its design has been masterfully streamlined by Infiniti design head Alfonso Albaisa. The grill gets a substantial revision with a deeper and wider presence; the headlights sit higher, with their own sharpened lines. Body panels from front to the rear have been smoothed out for a less billowy look, and the inside gets more profuse leather treatment and new colors. There are also new 20- and 22-inch alloy wheel designs. It’ll still be powered by a huge 5.6-liter V8 with 400 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque, but the updating still nicely modernizes this big boy. We’ll drive it next month, so stay tuned for the full report.
2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
That Chevrolet traveled all the way to the United Arab Emirates to unveil its new Corvette ZR1 shows a laser-focused bit of upmarket marketing — or at the least the desire to open up the 210-mph monster on some of the UAE’s fantastic wide-open desert roads. This is GM’s fastest-ever machine, powered by a new 6.2-liter LT5 V8 good for 755 horsepower and 715 lb-ft of torque. Its more efficient supercharger and dual-fuel-injection system accounts for the staggering performance. We hope the actual media drives are here, too…
The Mideast Marvels
Dubai-based boutique carmaker Devel showed off its concept Devel Sixteen mega-hypercar, 300-mph fantasy machine. And by “fantasy” I mean “unlikely.” The company claims the engine is able to generate 5,000-horsepower from a 12.3-liter V-16 engine. I have no earthly idea how 5,000 horsepower can be usefully applied to any track short of a very, very long, straight one, but it’s a fun idea. Of course, that’s the track version. Those without a death wish can order dialed-down versions with just 2,000 or 3,000 horsepower.
Another Dubai carmaker, W Motors, debuted its stunning Fenyr SuperSport hypercar. Its four-liter twin-turbo V6 will produce 900 horsepower, lifting the car to 60 mph in just under 2.7 seconds on the way to a top speed of 250 mph. The dual-clutch gearbox will ensure no interruption in power application to the [horrifically abused] pavement beneath. It’s being developed in partnership with manufacturers RUF Automotive Germany and Magna Steyr.
Brabus 900 “One of Ten”
It wouldn’t be Dubai without multiple extremely well-tuned Mercedes G-Wagens. Brabus’s 900 “One of Ten” version manages to get this less-than-aerodynamic brick to 60 mph in just 4 seconds thanks to engine enhancements that bring the output to, yes, 900 horsepower and the torque to 1,106 lb-ft. Menacing black finish and carbon hood standard, of course.
Dubai Police Hoverbike
The Dubai police are already well known for driving the most fantastically fast supercars in hot pursuit of other fantastically fast supercars, and they generated some buzz recently thanks to a quadcopter-cum-hoverbike they’re deploying to terrify the population. But to show where they’re ultimately going with that idea, they borrowed the concept hoverbike recently unveiled by BMW. Dubaians have little to fear, though — the concept has a fan in the rear, but no discernible lifting mechanism at the front end, so all it can really do is promptly nose-dive into eternity. [This is likely a publicity stunt. The hoverbike, however, itself is very real and is made by a company called Hoversurf. – Ed.]