Our Cars: Jeep Wrangler Rubicon

We welcome our new long-term Wrangler to the MME Fleet
Imthishan Giado

MME Jeep Wrangler

Scroll down to see my first and second reports

The car’s been rustproofed, paint protected and tinted – the only thing left to do now is to collect it! Or as I like to call it, the fun part.

The last time I did this with my 86, Toyota made it into a little bit of a spectacle, with a backdrop and a giant key to hand over to lucky me. Things are a little different at Trading Enterprises, a little more personal, and a little less giant key.

MME Jeep Wrangler

Explaining how it all works

My salesperson Gurmeet returns to complete the handover process: he walks through all the forms I have to sign, indicates how much I’ve paid, that all the documents indicate the correct VIN numbers, and how I have left to pay on finance. Since I’ve paid cash (including the registration fee) I only have to pick up the keys.

MME Jeep Wrangler

Yay!

Oh, and of course, Gurmeet hands over the registration card. I’ve elected to retain my old numberplate from the 86. Call me sentimental.

MME Jeep Wrangler

Now it’s time to go down to my brand new Rubicon and inspect it to make sure everything is absolutely perfect before taking delivery. Gurmeet walks me through the car’s various functions, from climate control to programming the Bluetooth telephone connection. Bluetooth in a Wrangler? We are surely strangers in a strange land.

MME Jeep Wrangler

Once he’s walked through it – and at 20 minutes, it’s a comprehensive lecture – we’re finally ready to drive out. Or rather, do a shakedown run! It’s standard TE procedure for the new owner to do a brief ‘familiarisation’ drive with the salesperson around the Festival City complex to get to grips with the car and make sure everything’s OK. Five minutes around the block is enough to give me the all clear, Gurmeet shakes my hand, gives me cell phone number in case of emergency and wishes me well. Time to drive home in my new car!

MME Jeep Wrangler

Truly shocking to imagine how far the Wrangler’s come in a few years. Our own Mr Sheikh has described it as a 911 for the offroad set; four years ago, the Wrangler I drive was an uncultured yob with a plastic binliner interior and a gutless 3.8-litre V6 engine. I swore up and down that I’d never buy such a rustic relic.

MME Jeep Wrangler

And here I am, now with one of my very own. A mini-truck with every gadget I need and no electronic aids I don’t, great seats and the second most powerful engine I’ve ever owned. It’s also the most expensive vehicle I’ve ever bought, bar none.

Let’s hope she lives up to expectations.


MME Jeep Wrangler

Cheque paid, it’s now time for my new Rubicon to get rustproofed, paint protected and delivery. Car salespeople have been pushing these profitable dealer-fitted options for years, but what does they actually do?

Before we can do anything of course, the car has to go to the workshop. So a set of a dealer plates are placed in the dashboard and my Rubi begins its short 2km journey from the Festival City showroom to the Umm Ramool workshop, while I follow with a watchful eye and if necessary, a big stick.

MME Jeep Wrangler

Getting ready for the rust proofing install

Rust proofing

The last time we did this exercise with my 86, the rustproofing was a tedious, painstaking process that involved wrapping sensitive components and body panels in thick paper before the car can be sprayed down with nasty, smelly black rustproofing liquid. Takes a while, and not the most pleasant thing to watch.

MME Jeep Wrangler

It’s witchcraft!

Turns out, that’s the old way of doing things. Trading Enterprises now uses something called ‘electronic rustproofing’. Created by the boffins at GardX, it’s a small gadget that’s installed in the engine bay, drawing power directly from the vehicle’s battery and sending an constant AC signal through the entire vehicle, preventing rust from forming if the bare steel is exposed.

To be honest, sounds like witchcraft to me; the old liquid method is easy to understand because it’s literally a coat of armor but this…well how can a little box smaller than the size of your fist electrify an entire Jeep? Still, TE stands by it and as far as I’m concerned, any rust is their problem!

MME Jeep Wrangler

Installation is dead-easy. One tech installs a ground for the device on the other side of the engine bay, the other runs a wire piggybacking off the battery. And that’s er…it, the car’s ‘rust proofed.’ Well, we’ll see in four years!

MME Jeep Wrangler

The green light tells you it’s working. No, really!

Paint Protection

The next stage is paint protection. The car heads back to the showroom where another pair of men prepare the sealant-based protection. Cloths, pads, bottles, polishers – now this I understand!

MME Jeep Wrangler

Paint protection sealant has to be laboriously applied by hand

More straightforward than the rust proofing voodoo, the paint protection is a Teflon-based coating that is manually applied to the interior and exterior of the Jeep. A hazy liquid, the detailer applies it in circular motions to the exterior and sprays it on the interior, even the carpets!

MME Jeep Wrangler

Even the carpets get ‘protected’

Once every panel has been rubbed, the sealant is left to harden for half an hour, after which the excess residue is simply wiped off. If this entire process sounds a lot like waxing a car, it’s not an accident. The difference between a simple wax job and this system is that wax melts in heat whereas this does not: the sealant will last for up to three years, is water phobic, resists scratches and will (hopefully) keep that glorious Flame Red finish shining the entire time. The remaining job is tint, but you of course all know how that works so I won’t waste your time explaining the process.

MME Jeep Wrangler

Looks like an expensive wax job to me

So why bother with all of this protection? Curiosity. I didn’t opt for paint protection on the 86 when I purchased it; car washes were either of the mall or petrol station jet-sprayer variety. After the year, the paint was holding up OK but the natural shine was long gone and every panel was tarnished with nasty swirl marks, only removable with a good polish.

With the paint protection in place, I’m curious to see if the Jeep holds up any better.


MME Jeep Wrangler

Time to say goodbye to an old friend.

All change. After a year and a half with my previous Toyota 86, it was time to try something different. And what could be more diametrically opposite than a rough-and-tumble Jeep Wrangler Rubicon?

Scratching your head a bit? Makes more sense than you think. Sportscars make great weekend toys (and the 86 was surprisingly practical) but the chances to exercise them are few and far between – legally, anyway. Trackdays are rare and expensive (not that I’ve been interested in doing them) and I can’t make the trek to Kalba every weekend, not to mention the proliferation of speed cameras in the Emirates of late. One also grows tired of being so ground hugging that I was sniffing people’s tailpipes, and dodging errant rocks and debris on Emirates Road. It was time for a change of scenery. And height.

MME Jeep Wrangler

Our salesperson Gurmeet waits for Imthishan to decide…he might be waiting a while!

Which one? 

Four non-negotiable ground rules: under AED150k, body-on-frame construction, a manual gearbox and goddamnit, cruise control! (I spent a lot of time on the highway).

First candidate was the iconic Land Rover Defender; my heart said YES but my brain, wallet and still-ringing ears said no. Land Cruiser? Can’t get a manual with cruise and besides, I’ve had a 100-Series before. Patrol? Not the rubbish new one but the old 4.8 cool-as-ice VTC was very, very tempting especially in ‘capsula’ two-door form. Crept in under the budget but guess what? No cruise control! Sorry, Nissan.

That left the FJ and the Wrangler. I ran a FJ long-termer for two months and while it was an excellent drive, very capable, it neither had cruise nor much in the way of personality. This new vehicle will have to be a car I’ll use for the next three years at least, so I kinda want to enjoy driving it every day. Or at least remember driving it. Scratch the Toyota.

Which Wrangler?  

Not just any Wrangler too, but the tough-as-nails Rubicon edition, which you may remember from my drive in the US last year. Over the standard Sport it er, sports a few key features: stronger Dana 44 axles, a 4.10 gear ratio  (better get-up-n-go) and most importantly to me, standard electrically locking front and rear diffs, key additions which make the Rubicon nearly impossible to get stuck.

Rubicons normally cost AED160,000 in two door form which is a lot for some fancy diffs and a better stereo. Luckily, Trading Enterprises were running a special offer at the time for the Rubi, listing it at AED135,000. Score! Option-wise, the Rubicon is already well-kitted out so the only things you can really decide are whether you want navigation and leather, according to my friendly sales adviser at Trading Enterprises, Gurmeet Singh. Considering how hot it gets, leather is a no-no. Considering that every smartphone comes with Google Maps, I’ll also save that AED9k option, thanks.

One of the best things about the Wrangler is the number of wild and crazy colours that are available for it. Viper Orange! Plum Crazy Purple from the Challenger! A veritable smorgasbord of lurid hues to choose from the crayon box. Sadly, Gurmeet dashes my hopes: in stock are only white, black and red. And there’s not even point pressuring TE to order a different colour (which they can do): Gurmeet informs me that the unusual colours pop into the system randomly so it really is your luck which one you get. Summer is your best bet, he suggests.

MME Jeep Wrangler

Cheque written. There’s no turning back now

The Bill

The Wrangler costs Dh135,000, to which I added Dh995 worth of 3M tints, Dh1099 in rust proofing, Dh1499 in Teflon paint protection and a registration fee of Dh500 for a grand total of Dh139,093. Complicating the process is the trade-in for my Toyota 86, valued by their inhouse buyer at a Dh67,000. Subtract that from the earlier total and you have my final sales price of Dh72,093.

MME Jeep Wrangler

Selling your old car is this easy.

By the way, I should give full credit to TE’s trade-in team because the process could simply not be more painless. Walk from the sales desk to the trade-in desk, wait five minutes, sign two papers, hand the keys over and you’re done! No answering endless calls or bumbling about in RTA offices, as easy as lying down.

Now that I’ve written a cheque for rather a lot of money, the next step is to actually get it. Before we can do that, it needs to get rustproofed, tinted and ‘paint protected’.

Stay tuned for more!

3 responses to “Our Cars: Jeep Wrangler Rubicon”

  1. Essa says:

    Those wheels look very good on the Rubicon, mabrook 🙂

  2. Looking good! Same colour as the Mrs’s Jeep Wrangler Sahara. Thought i’d saw it last week outside VW..

  3. Jay says:

    Congrats! Now it’s time to take off all the bone stock bumpers, wheels, trim, motor, etc. and drop another 150k at AEV Conversions including a HEMI 6.4L V8, 6″ lift, 37″ tires, offroad bumpers and all the other goodies! 😛

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *