On our first day in Dubai, we had to drive down to Ras Al Khaimah, one of the Emirates and we were handed over the X-Trail to start with. The 100-odd kilometres drive from downtown Dubai set the course of the trip. As we steered on to the Sheikh Zayed road from one of the poshest areas in Dubai, the wide roads welcomed us with disciplined traffic.
The X-Trail is a mid-size premium SUV and it was at home in the four-lane highway running through the desert and showcasing man's ability to build marvels on barren land. The skyscrapers gave way to smaller buildings and then single-storey houses and then tiny shrubs as we crossed Sharjah and Ajman. We veered off the highway on to the country roads in Ras Al Khaimah and that's where we were struck by the beauty of the desert.
The countryside showcased the ochre desert with tiny shrubs against a deep blue background. The broken roads gradually gave way to sand trails and yet the X-Trail just sailed through. But then as the terrain got tougher, we decided to give the X-Trail a break. Not because it was not capable, but because we had something big and massive to barrel through the sand.
I climbed on to the Patrol, Nissan biggest SUV, and I knew in a moment why it is the bestselling SUV in the Emirates. It felt like a tank that would probably drive through a sandstorm as if it was any other city road. Having deflated the tyres to a lower pressure, the Patrol dug through the slippery sand, plunging ahead effortlessly.
When we reached the dunes, the expert dune bashers took over the helm and piloted us through. We climbed up the dune slopes, swung over the crests and slid down the other side and all of that without even having to grab on to the handles. I was wondering why dune-bashing is considered so tough when we glided through everything almost unperturbed. But when I saw the other cars fighting the desert like Spartans, I realised how marvelous was the engineering on the vehicle I was riding.
As the sun set over the distant horizon, we started our journey back to the city and this time I was driving the Pathfinder. Now, like the X-Trail, the Pathfinder is also a mid-size SUV but it sits on the luxury end of the segment. The difference was evident right as I started off the parking lot. The steering was light but firm and it felt much more solid. With the 3.0-litre V6 underneath the hood, it had much more go. We tuned into Arabian music on the way to the Boulevard, the Address, one of the choicest dinner destinations in Dubai.