My car: Volkswagen Scirocco
It's been 36 years since Volkswagen started work on its Scirocco model, producing three generations on its way to creating the eye-catching 2009 model that American University of Dubai student Khaled el Wazzan enjoys driving around the streets of the UAE.
Launched in 1974, the first-generation Scirocco was produced until 1982, the second from 1982 until 1992 and the newest line was launched in 2006 as the IROC concept, going on sale in 2008.
"Sometimes I would park the car, go somewhere and come back and find random people taking pictures with it - it's one of the perks that come with owning a weird-looking sports car," says the 22-year old Lebanese student, currently majoring in business.
"A friend of mine bought this [model of] car a while before, and I really liked it when I saw him driving it for the first time," says el Wazzan.
"It was all I talked about for a while in front of my parents, and before I knew it, a flashy green 2009 Volkswagen Scirocco was parked at the door step of my building as a gift from my father."
El Wazzan owned a Honda Jazz for four years before he got the Sirocco. He also owns a Chevrolet Tahoe that he enjoys driving.
"I don't like to limit myself to one genre so to speak. I like the power and the sense of space that comes with a big car on the one hand, and I like the speed and the control that comes with a sports car on the other," he adds.
While the glamour of the Scirocco creates the perfect environment for outings with friends, and might be just the conversation piece that can attract new ones, SUVs are el Wazzan's choice when he's out with family.
"They fit all, and contain all, and serve as perfect sets for family gatherings," he says.
The Volkswagen Scirocco, which has similar specs to the current GTI - is equipped with a 2.0-litre, 200 horsepower turbo four-cylinder motor. But for el Wazzan, its flashy green colour is as appealing as the power and performance - although his mother may disagree.
"My mother was overwhelmed, and a little scared, when I explained to her what the car can do and how fast it can go," jokes el Wazzan about the 220kph maximum speed that gets the car from rest to 100kph in eight seconds.
"I put a couple of red and black strips on the side just to tone down the green, and when people see them, they constantly try to race me on the streets.
"It's actually a funny experience when someone would drive past me and give me signs that they wanted to race," laughs el Wazzan.
El Wazzan has spent a large proportion of his life in Dubai, but takes occasional vacations in his home country of Lebanon.
"I lived in the UAE for the past nine years and it's a totally different experience to drive in these two different countries.
"Back in Lebanon, when it comes to driving, the rules are not as strict as they are here. It can get to be a bit of a transition between the two countries," he says.
While the spacious motorways of Dubai offer enough room for free driving, the geography of Lebanon adds new challenges for el Wazzan when he drives in his home country.
"In Lebanon, wherever you go, you come across hills, mountains and valleys that create geographically challenging surfaces. This fact is both good and bad.
"On the one hand it teaches you how to correctly manoeuvre a car around and experience its full potential, but on the other hand, it's not as smooth and spacious as it is to drive around in the motorways of Dubai.
"Some people like their space so that they can get creative with directions and angles and show off their skills, and some like challenging surfaces that will test their vehicle's endurance and power."
Despite being a big fan of the Scirocco's sleek, unusual shape, el Wazzan recognises that he won't be keeping this car for long.
"I don't think anyone will take me seriously if I drive to work with a flashy green Scirocco," says el Wazzan.
He plans to get a serious-looking car when he graduates and starts to work.
"It's mostly about the colour. This car is perfect for me at this age. I frankly don't see myself driving this car around three or four years from now."
Published: November 3, 2010 04:00 AM