Personal South African Culture

A day out with the Daytona Group driving Aston Martins, Rolls Royces & a McLaren

Yesterday I got an amazing once in a lifetime opportunity to join in on a press day with the team from the Daytona Group, to test drive a couple of brands the import. The Daytona group are the sole importers & distributors of the Aston Martin, Rolls Royce & the McLaren brands into South Africa.

Initially I opted to take a drive in the McLaren MP4-12C, but was fortunate enough to get to drive all 3 brands, including the Aston Martin Rapide & the Rolls Royce Ghost. In total around 10 Mil worth of cars !!

The Aston Martin Rapide was up first, and in practical terms was the pick of the day. The Rapide is a V12 600 NM horse powered car, which has a top speed of around 295 km/h. The car has immense amount of power, and my drive up the coast and back went by rather quick, leaving me wanting more. It is such a versatile car in terms of, you can drive it around town, or you can take it out on a Sunday Morning for a speed test. It also has an amazing Bang & Olufsen sound system included as well. All round, the most “practical” car of the lot & with a price tag of around R3.3 Mil, this car has become a life goal of mine. One day :) Interestingly there are currently around 600 or so Aston Martin’s  on the road in South Africa, making it one of the fastest growing & more popular luxury brands in South Africa at the moment.

Next up was the Rolls Royce Ghost. With around 150 Rolls Royces in South Africa at the moment, and a price tag of around R4.4 mil for the entry level Ghost, I can see why people would want to drive this car. It is the ultimate luxury vehicle. It just has everything. You name it, the Ghost has it. What an absolute pleasure to drive, and even though it is has similar engine specs to the Rapide, it is a totally different drive and in a class of it’s own. The Ghost has an 8 speed gearbox, a 6.6 litre v12 engine with a governed top speed of around 259km/h. It really is a gentleman’s car, and one you aspire to own, and have someone drive you around in it. I was very surprised at the comforts of this car.

Finally, I got to drive the McLaren MP4-12C, the highlight of the day. When I got the invite to the “Best of British Roadshow” press day, I was asked which car I wanted to drive, and after a quick poll on my Facebook page, the response was overwhelming in favour of the McLaren. But, before I had the chance to actually get behind the wheel, I was treated to a drive by Ryan Barwell, the Operations Director for the Daytona Group in South Africa. There is no doubt that Ryan has driven the McLaren a couple of times before, so when he turned to me and said “By the end of the offramp, we should be at around 180km/h”, I knew I was in for a treat. Actually, “treat” is a too fallible word. “Life changing” might be better suited. Look, I can’t vouch to say if we hit that 180km/h. We may have. But seeing as the speed limit on that road is 100km/h, I’m pretty sure we topped out at “around” 110km/h, only about 10km/h over the legal speed limit ;)

Needless to say, the next 7 minutes up the coast to Sibaya from Umhlanga were literally a blur. A heart racing fuel infest blur, that, quite honestly, words fail to describe. The McLaren MP4-12c is a 7-speed, 441 kW amazing piece of machinery. With 3.3 seconds to get you from 0-100 km/h, you are guaranteed of an unbelievable life-changing experience.
Actually, before we got in the car, Ryan tried to explain that feeling to me; “If you have kids, and you watch them achieve something for the first time in their life, like finishing a puzzle, or completing something, there is this sense of sheer elation of fulfillment on the kids face once they have done it. A huge smile, and nothing else matters to them in the world, apart from completing that task. Now that’s how you will feel after driving the McLaren MP4-12C” And, he hit the nail on the head. I got to drive the car back from Sibaya, and for the fear of my MIL reading my blog, I may or may not have hit a speed starting with a 2 and ending with two zero’s along a straight stretch of highway. Maybe. Possibly.

If you ever get the opportunity for a drive in the McLaren, I would suggest grabbing it with both hands. There are only 14 of these cars in South Africa, and an amazing, amazing car.

A huge thanks to the guys at the Daytona Group for the invite. It was a fantastic morning. You can see a couple of pics I took in the Facebook Album I put up. You can also keep up with the Daytona Group on Twitter or Facebook to see what they up to and see launches of any new cars & brands in South Africa.