x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

'It's the best toy ever'

She reluctantly let go of her Pajero, but now the Abu Dhabi-based Aimee Warren adores her new Jeep.

To the untrained eye, the back seat of Aimee Warren's Jeep Wrangler Unlimited looks like a rubbish dump. She says she has a tendency to hoard possessions .
To the untrained eye, the back seat of Aimee Warren's Jeep Wrangler Unlimited looks like a rubbish dump. She says she has a tendency to hoard possessions .

When Aimee Warren was forced to part with her tired old Mitsubishi Pajero two months ago there was no doubt in her mind what car was next on her list. The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited in Sunburst Orange had her name written all over it. "It's quite distinctive," she smiles. "Not the norm, a bit like me really." Having owned a 1994 Jeep some years ago and having just parted with her Pajero, Warren found this addition to the Wrangler family to be a good hybrid "it's good old-fashioned Jeep fun with a load of creature comforts thrown in, perfect."

Almost a veteran of the expat world, the 28-year-old creative director from England moved to the UAE seven years ago when her father was posted to Dubai by his employer. Staying here for much longer than expected, Warren made the move to Abu Dhabi a year ago for a change of scenery: "Abu Dhabi reminds me of Dubai a few years ago, when it was starting out. I like being part of something new and here I'm part of a growing community. It's like watching the city gain its own identity."

Referring to herself as 'dual-city' Warren often heads to Dubai for the weekend, "I like to spread myself out and stay with different people when I'm in town; that way I get to see everyone. I'm like a nomad at the moment so half my life is in the back of my car." To the untrained eye the contents of her car may seem like back seat rubbish but for Warren these items are mere essentials for life in the desert.

The assortment of brightly coloured plastic flowers, collection of water pistols, balls, games and entertainment items are apparently vital for her trips between the emirates. Blaming her tendency to hoard on the constant moving of house and her days spent in the Girl Guides, Warren lives by the motto "be prepared". "You'll always find what you need in the back of my car," she explains "Whether its practical or just plain silly. I'm always well prepared."

Reminiscing over her days as a Girl Guide, Warren recalls having to convert the boot of her car into a fully equipped first aid room. "I have also slept in the back of my car, quite comfortably actually, it took ages to figure out how to get the seats down in the Pajero though, it was like a Rubik's cube. The Wrangler is a lot easier to dismantle; the entire roof comes off." Built for the great outdoors, the Wrangler Unlimited suits Warren's lifestyle: "I try to go out to the desert every month in the winter time. I love it, it's definitely the Girl Guide in me."

As the first car Warren has ever bought brand new, the Wrangler is a far cry from her first set of wheels. "I had a Vauxhall Nova that was a hand-me-down from my mum; it was blue to begin with but by the time I got rid of it, not so much." The worst car she has ever driven is the UAE rental car favourite, the Mitsubishi Lancer. "They love them over here but they are just so horrid, they seem almost prehistoric," she says. Forced to hire one when the Pajero was on its last legs, Warren braved a trip up Al Ain's Jabel Hafeet, when a friend from home came to visit. "It was hilarious; people were jogging up the mountain quicker than we were driving. We had a great day; the car provided lots of giggles."

Having had a fair few car-related mishaps in her 10 years on the road, Warren relives one of her most memorable stories whilst trying to keep a straight face. "Having been in an accident in the Springs area, we waited for police and security to arrive and exchanged insurance details, the usual business. As I opened the hood of the car to check out the damage, a spitting, squawking puffball of a cat launched itself at my face. The surrounding group of 10 or more men, my dad and I exploded into a fit of screams. You don't expect that from under your bonnet."

With the denim giant Wrangler in mind, Warren's new toy goes by the name of Jeans, although she has also been told that the Wrangler model first got its name through the acronym of "Just Enough Essential Parts." Warren proudly refers to her car as a Meep because for her, it has more than enough essential parts. "They have all you would ever need in a car, they're rough and ready to go. Mine is by far the best toy I have ever bought."

motoring@thenational.ae