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Heading for a new job description – at 310kph

  |  March 11, 2013

Look, but don't drive: a Mercedes-Benz SLS Class
Look, but don't drive: a Mercedes-Benz SLS Class

This week I waved goodbye to the News team and drove off into the sunset. Well, not quite. I walked to the other end of the office where the Motoring section is put together and assumed a new role as a features journalist (a roving reporter?).

Making the transition won’t be easy, as I have grown used to the stress involved in News, but I think I will enjoy my new job. I’ve always been a petrol head – now someone is paying me for it.

The switch will also let me focus more on broadening my writing skills, by taking on long and descriptive feature stories, rather than short and sharp news bulletins.

As first days go, it could hardly have been better. I was accompanying Keven Hackett, the Motoring editor, to a photo shoot, but as we walked through the parking lot I became too engrossed in the conversation we were having about my new role to notice the car we were approaching.

Suddenly, we stopped. There in front of me was the shiniest and most beautiful black beast of a convertible I have ever seen – a Mercedes-Benz SLS Class. Too excited even to react, all I could do was stand and gawp with the silliest grin on my face. “We’re riding in this?” I asked.

Excitedly, I climbed in, memorising every detail of the car as I did so. Its shiny exterior, black leather interior, tiny gear, low body, and long bonnet all added up to a marvellous looking vehicle any self-respecting petrol-freak would die to be seen in.

The sound it made as soon as the engine started is indescribable, but I’m sure that car fanatics need no description of what an AMG engine sounds like. (For non-fanatics, the indescribable can be described thus: ‘You know how in comics they sometimes write “VROOM!” It kinda sounds like that.)

As we left the parking lot, the sound of the engine continued to crackle – a sure sign this was one fast car. I was told it could reach up to 310kph and the temptation to test this claim for myself was almost overwhelming.

Sadly, a few things got in the way of my journalistic inquisitiveness. Firstly, I wasn’t allowed to drive it, as I am still a sprightly, yet apparently untrustworthy, 21...but for insurance purposes the company needed media test drivers to be above 25 years of age.

Apparently 25 is the age at which a motoring journalist turns from a rubber-burning lunatic hellbent on smashing a test car into a responsible and respectable professional, suitably cognitively developed not to crash into the nearest wall. What a difference 4 years makes.

We drove to Al Bateen Beach for the photo shoot and encountered our second barrier to reaching 310kph - the need for our photographer Sammy, who was in a car in front, to take good pictures.

Luckily, on the way back, we went crazy, and the one fully-cognitively developed journalilst among us could really put his foot to the metal. I had a smile on my face the whole way and enjoyed the ride.

Midday traffic may have prevented us from reaching that 310kph milestone, but it didn’t really matter. The SLS Class is a great car and provides a wonderful ride at any speed.

As we got out of the car, I again stood and stared at the black beauty in front of me. Hours later, I still had that ridiculous grin on my face, unable to comprehend what had happened at just another day in the office.

Even though I would have loved to drive the car, the experience of being a passenger was enough, for now at least. There will be more chances for me to drive fast cars while claiming I’m at work, so let’s just hope my age doesn’t ruin it for me.

My love of cars is taking me on a new journey in my career, and I’m in the driving seat.