On the Fast Lane of Superstardom

Round-table manifestations often yield great results and when it was decided that we should rope in a celebrity to be the face of our anniversary issue, it was almost agreed in unison that we should get someone who’s a living embodiment of passion and energy. There’s only one name that pops up in our head when we hear these two words together in a sentence. No brownie points for guessing that it is indeed Ranveer Singh.

Our stint with this sprightly Bollywood actor included pure automotive bliss with us spending some time with Ranveer at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit. We drove down to Dubai from Abu Dhabi and during this iconic road trip, our stars aligned and we managed to tap into Ranveer’s car-fanboy side. Here’s an excerpt from the conversation we had with Ranveer related to his love for automobiles.

Ramesh Somani: How did your obsession with automobiles kickstart?

Ranveer Singh: I have inherited my passion for automobiles from my father. It runs in my genes because my father is a massive petrolhead and used to be a professional rally driver for about seven years. He was also into the two-wheeler business for several years. We had a small motorcycle showroom in Bandra for many years. So the connection is strong indeed. I used to love reading TopGear as a kid! That’s where I got fascinated with the world of cars. I used to study it like a textbook and used to cut pictures out of the magazine and stick them on my walls. I used to study specs and prices. I love Formula1, MotoGP, Motocross, and the world rallying championship as well. TopGear got me to wonder about beautiful machines like the Testarossa, Lamborghini Diablo, Countach, Corniche, and I used to stick every poster-worthy supercar onto my walls. So I have had this connection with TopGear since childhood. TopGear has been one of the driving forces behind my love for cars. I used to go through the pages, bowled over with utter fascination. Since then, life has been such a journey and I consider this to be a momentous milestone in that journey. Back then, I used to wait for TopGear issues to be out, and now I’ve made it to the cover of BBC TopGear India magazine. It’s the stuff of dreams.

Ramesh Somani: Where do you get all the energy and inspiration from?

Ranveer Singh: Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been fond of everything that has a motor and wheels. I used to play with hot wheels all the time. To grow up and then be associated with things that are such a cherished part of my childhood is really special for me. Most days I stop and count my blessings and I’m filled with gratitude that is overwhelming. I’m powered by that kind of grateful energy. I just have a lust for life. It’s like I know that our time as mortal beings on this Earth is limited. So you have to make every day count. You got to live life with the throttle maxed out to the fullest. And that thought is where my zeal or enthusiasm or energy comes from. I’m just really enthusiastic about what I’m doing at the moment. I’m always cultivating the habit of living in the moment. I’m rarely dwelling on the past. I’m not anxious about the future. I’ve cultivated this habit of just living my life a quarter-mile at a time rather than worrying about what lies miles ahead.

Ramesh Somani: Not many people know about your love for automobiles…

Ranveer Singh: You are correct! Only a few people know this side of me. Not many know how geeky I am about cars. People know that I love cars but that I’m a true-blue Motorhead? Seldom do people know about it. Seldom has anyone found out!

Ramesh Somani: Your garage is envious, every petrolhead’s dream garage – tell us more. In fact, let’s go through your car journey right from your childhood days?

Ranveer Singh: The trip down memory lane has to commence with the Premier Padmini. Premier Padmini is such a significantly big part of our lives as Indians, no wonder that it has garnered cult status. I remember my family had a Premier Padmini, and when Maruti joined hands with Suzuki, it kicked off a revolution. Maruti is such an integral part of our lives as Indians. I would even go to the extent of articulating that Maruti is a very intrinsic part of our Indian culture. Our extended family garage also had an Ambassador. One thing I must mention… I used to love the Contessa in those days. I always wished we had one, but that didn’t happen, but yeah, the way I used to fawn over that car!

My nana had a 118NE and I have fond memories of that car too.

Then Maruti came out with the Maruti 1000 and it was an epic car. Owning a Maruti 1000 at that time meant a great deal. And it was actually after many years after the release of the Maruti 1000 that my father bought it. It was our prized possession! I think that it is my most memorable car of all time. Eventually, the Maruti 1000 was handed down to me. In a way, that was my first car, and I even had a name for her. I have a name for all my cars. And I get a kick out of giving each car a super cringy and random name (laughs) And because I was deeply in love with the Maruti 1000, I named her Prema. (My Aston Martin is named ‘Ram Pyaari’, for example) .

Moreover, my father loves cars and messing around with them. He’ll go out and procure some special steering wheel, some fancy rims or a belter of a music system with an insane subwoofer, for instance …

So the 1000 was a totally souped-up, jazzed-out Maruti 1000. Yeah ‘one of those.’ (Laughs) In retrospect, I wouldn’t have given away that Maruti. I would have just kept it because I have so so much sentimental value attached to that vehicle.

The very first car I bought with my own money, was the Jaguar XJL.

For car guys like us, it can transform into a milestone moment in your life. My father bought me cars up until a certain point in life. The day I bought my father a car was a very emotional day for us as a family. That day, I felt like I had achieved something in life. It was unforgettable.

When I started earning more money, I started fulfilling my dreams of owning a sports car and that’s when I bought the Aston Martin Rapide. It was actually many years later, after the Rapide first came out, that I actually could afford to buy one. So I bought that in 2017.

At the time, it made the most sense because of Bombay’s roads! It had a very good ground clearance, and anybody who’s into sports cars will know that ground clearance is a very important aspect in the city. By the way, I love how many cool cars Mumbai boasts of. There are some bonafide head turners in our beloved megacity. I absolutely loved the Aston, being my first sports car and the fact that it’s a gorgeous, refined powerful V12.

It is very different from my other car the Lamborghini Urus, which happens to be a V8. The V12 and the V8 have very different traits altogether. Sometimes I joke that the difference feels like the difference between a Fiero and a Shogun (laughs).

The Aston was the first car that I owned that had paddle shifters, which I absolutely dig. The Aston can be appreciated by a purist. One of the things on my bucket list was to own a Lamborghini. I first entered the Lamborghini showroom in 2014. I then waited six years to finally buy it but when I did, it was a proud life moment for me. I just love the raw power of the Bull because it’s so unabashed and unapologetic.

Talking about the Lamborghini Urus, when it was first announced or rumoured, even as a concept, I was like, “Bro! This is going to be a game-changer.” I called it and that’s exactly what happened. The aggression, the sheer power, acceleration, the panel, the music system, the interface, everything is phenomenal about the Lamborghini. Urus changed the game for Lamborghini and for the SUV bracket as a whole. What I love is that it gives you the entire Lamborghini experience and none of the stress because, on most city roads, it’s kind of difficult when you have tarmac-hugging cars. I live in Prabhadevi and most of my work happens in the suburbs so the roads are pretty decent but even then, driving low-slung cars is stressful. I test drove the Gallardo, the Murcielago, and even the Huracan.

I didn’t enjoy the really low models because, before every speed breaker, I had to stop, press the button, wait for the thing to go up, and then take the breaker under the stride. So with the Urus, it’s like you’re getting the full Lamborghini experience with none of the stress. It is an absolutely beautiful SUV, and it gives me a lot of materialistic joy. (Laughs)

But now I’m looking forward to my next acquisition.

And ever since the McLaren 720S got launched in India, I’m lusting to include it in my garage.

Or maybe I’ll get a prancing horse maybe in Scuderia Red or maybe I’ll give her a cringing name like ‘Laali’. (Laughs)

Ramesh Somani: TELL US MORE!

Ranveer Singh: I also love the Mercedes GLS Maybach that I recently got, it’s a marvel of a machine and arguably the most effective luxury SUV in the market today. I also have the long and luxurious Maybach S Class, the reliable and refined E class, and a zippy little Mini Cooper S. I love all my cars, and I treat them very well. I’m quite finicky about the details, and I ensure that they are well taken care of.

Ramesh Somani: So what are the best roads you’ve driven? Do you drive often?

Ranveer Singh: I think, honestly, the best driving experience is at a circuit. Once you’ve driven around the circuit, there’s no comparison. It’s really the ultimate driving experience. It’s also with less anxiety. So you can really express and push yourself. You can really have the full experience without worrying about external elements.

Ramesh Somani: What do you think about EVs?

Ranveer Singh: I know that five years down the line, ICE-powered cars will start becoming obsolete. I am aware of the on-going electric revolution, and I think it is great. Personally, I’ve not gotten into EVs yet.