Road trips, as any number of Hollywood movies will tell you, are brilliant. The scenery is everchanging. The adventure comes built in. Fun just happens. But to get the full hit of the fruit, they need to be big. Really big.
If you can get from starter-gun A to chequered-flag B in, say, 12 hours – well, that’s a day trip, my friend. Good, yes. Memorable, even. But ultimately just a means to an end. In a full-blooded road trip, the journey ought to be so extravagantly long that arrival at your final destination is such a distant prospect that you consider it only in an abstract sense, like a pre-teen pondering parenthood.
England, then, will not do. Nor will Great Britain, for that matter – unless you live in Cornwall and are minded to see what the Shetlands look like. No, to properly tick a ‘things to do’ box, you need something continent-sized to tackle, which, for the majority of us, means booking a ferry or train, downloading Google Translate, packing your emptiest credit card and your biggest smile and heading for somewhere at the very edge of the Schengen Agreement. Such a journey, done in either direction, would, I promise, be unforgettable in a two-decade-old Daewoo Matiz. But because we’re dealing strictly in fantasy here, and because we’re so inclined, our starting place is Faro, Portugal – and the car in question is a hot-fromthe-launch McLaren 570S.
The premise hardly requires any more introductory sautéing, yet it inadvertently gets it in real-time when the coupé is presented to photographer Stan Papior and me in an underground car park with the clandestine flourish of a bank robber showing off his new diamond coring tool. Overhead is the Conrad Algarve, a marble-clad monstrosity aimed at pot-bellied Portuguese businessman and their Rolex-wearing English equivalents. The hotel is chilled like Sauvignon Blanc, but in our darkened, deserted corner of the basement, abandoned by McLaren’s techies only 24 hours earlier, it’s hotter than Hades.