What it's like to drive a Tesla Cybertruck: We get behind the wheel

The National's Nick Webster buckles up for a driving experience like no other

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Settling down into the luxurious cabin of the first Tesla Cybertruck for hire in Dubai is almost like having to learn to drive again from scratch.

The soft vegan leather-backed pilot seat and sleek all-white dash, lacking the conventional dials, knobs and switches associated with most modern cars, immediately prepares you for a driving experience unlike any other.

Spawned from the deepest, darkest recess of the creative mind of Elon Musk, and with a little help from a crack team of techies and engineers, the latest must-have millionaire accessory is perfectly tuned to hit the futuristic streets of Dubai.

When the car’s owner – Russian entrepreneur Kirill Sosnovyi – offered an opportunity to take the bulletproof supersized truck for spin, it was too good to pass up.

There was one drawback, however. With no key, no starter button and no experience of driving one of Musk’s creations, it was difficult to know where to start. Literally.

In the driving seat

A mobile phone acts as the vehicle's remote control unit, and as long as that’s with you there’s no need for any trouser-tearing keys to jangle in the pocket. Pressing an illuminated button pops open the driver’s door and we’re away.

A Tesla app operates everything from opening the rear storage slider and “frunk” – the trunk that sits in front of the cabin – to even operating the horn.

Not that you’ll need any encouragement for other road users to move gently out of the way when driving a Cybertruck.

At six metres long, the wedge shaped 3-tonnes car with a dazzling LED light that resembles David Hasselhoff’s customised Pontiac Firebird Trans Am in the hit 1980s show Knight Rider looks as menacing and aggressive as anything on Sheikh Zayed Road.

A central screen console – familiar to anyone who has sat in the back of one of the Roads and Transport Authority's ever-growing Tesla taxi fleet – is the main operation hub.

The 47cm-wide touchscreen controls media, navigation, climate, entertainment features and can also customise driving preferences, like ride height, handling balance or stability.

If that is too 2023 for some, most of the controls are also voice activated.

Sliding a finger up on the left of the touchscreen is enough to rouse the monster vehicle to life.

Baja mode

With its laser sharp angles, the Cybertruck may resemble a battle tank, and with the bulletproof exoskeleton and armour windscreen it could cope in a war zone, but the handling is more akin to a much smaller, conventional vehicle, say a Renault Clio.

A multitude of technology and slick features ensures the Cybertruck is apocalypse-ready.

Activating Baja mode elevates the suspension and pressurises the high voltage battery, protecting it from water and debris while driving through shallow wadis and streams.

None of this was necessary when navigating around Al Badaa' Street car park.

The real time experience of driving a Cybertruck may not deliver the throaty roar and rumble of the usual supercars seen racing the streets of Dubai, but the thrill remains, despite the soothing silence of an electric powered dual motor and 48V lithium-ion low voltage battery unit.

If you’re an attention seeker, this is the car for you, and its iconic stainless steel looks are sure to split opinion. Heads turned as I pulled out into a side road to see how the Cybertruck felt to drive.

I’ve driven trucks and vans of a similar size, and the Cybertruck just doesn’t feel like a big car.

The handling and responsive steering wheel makes the giant car feel small, although parking could pose more of a problem and how it performs in the desert sands of the UAE could also prove a challenge, albeit an exciting one.

Even reversing the truck back into the showroom with double opening doors proved a game of patience. Manoeuvring a car of this size – and power – will take some getting used to.

The futuristic behemoth is available to rent for Dh700 ($190) by the hour or Dh2,800 ($762) a day.

Updated: June 02, 2024, 1:27 PM