When you’ve hired a Lamborghini Urus, says Imran Azad, it pays to have an exit strategy. “First, make sure the driver pulls up at a hotspot, which means a location such as Hans Crescent near Harrods. The windows should be down with the music pumping. As you leave the car, pause and turn back to the interior as if checking you’ve not left something behind.
“At the same time, the driver, who will be casually dressed, might call to you as if he’s family or a mate, joking that you’re always leaving something behind. The point is to show your friend or partner, but especially onlookers, that this world of Harrods and supercars is your world.”
Imran tells me this from the back seat of the Urus he’s hired for a few minutes. The trouble is, when my moment comes to adopt the strategy, there are only a bunch of builders, renowned for their weary cynicism, looking on. I abandon the planned pocket-patting routine and scurry round to the far side of the car to confer with Imran and James, the driver, giving the appearance, I hope, of a billionaire businessman too occupied with his next deal.
In fact, more than just the driver, James Downham is operations director of the company that owns the Urus. It’s called HYPR and describes itself as an Uber for supercars. In addition to the hot SUV, the company boasts a Lamborghini Aventador, a Mercedes-AMG G63 and a Rolls-Royce Wraith. It operates only in central London’s Zone 1 area.
Imran is a customer; one of just 100 people who have been accepted by Downham’s company as a member of the new, exclusive ride-hailing service, each paying a monthly subscription of £100 that includes ride credits (there are a further 600 people waiting to join). Rates start at £35 for a 10-minute ride in the G63.
The 20-year-old works with his father in property development and hails or occasionally pre-books a HYPR supercar around eight times a week. “I got bored with the traditional chauffeur experience,” he says. “HYPR is much more relaxed and the drivers know exactly where to drop you for maximum exposure.”
The Wraith is perfect for client meetings, he says, while the Aventador is great for trips to Harrods or Selfridges for treats like new shoes. The Urus or G63 are the pick for nights out with friends in, say, Berkeley Square. The ‘convoy’ feature on the HYPR app lets customers book the two Lambos, for example, for maximum impact.
Aside from the thrill of arriving in something like an Aventador, Imran considers the HYPR experience to be value for money. “I could hire a Prius from Uber, but I’d only save myself around £20,” he says. “Each well-connected contact I refer earns me a discount on my next ride, too.”
HYPR is the brainchild of Matt Blanchard, a 35-year-old entrepreneur who built the firm’s cool-looking app that mimics Uber’s in its features and functionality. He’s a down-to-earth Liverpudlian who was inspired to create the supercar-hailing service by his father.