Worldwide brand expands to Canada Place’s Level -3 car park, offering a range of vehicles for hire
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Those who don’t drive to Canary Wharf are unlikely to have made it to the glamorously named Level -3 of Canada Place’s car park.
But Wharfers who have recently descended so far via the lifts to the right of Waitrose may have been surprised to find a vibrant splash of orange in the deep.
Car rental firm Sixt has joined UFO Drive in offering vehicles for hire on the estate – and it’s created a glossy, disco ball of a space, all vibrant colour and shining LEDs.
In celebration of its arrival the company offered to lend Wharf Life a car for a couple of days to demonstrate the process. So I accepted.
Stepping through the glass doors of the brand’s richly kitted out unit – complete with bright orange desks, a sliver of bustling flatscreen and smiling staff – it was easy to forget I was in a car park.
Everything inside was clean, shiny and new.
Due to poor organisational skills, I’d managed to turn up a month early for my booking, but the patient staff simply made a few calls and sorted things out with minimal fuss.
I’d been expecting a lucky dip economy car – a VW Polo or similar – but was also offered an upgrade to Tesla’s long range Model Y.
A chunky all-wheel drive electric, it’s capable of zipping to 60mph in less than four seconds from a standing start.
The staff took me through the rudiments of the vehicle which, after some jerky pulling away, I managed to pilot gingerly out of the car park avoiding any bumps.
My plan was simple. First, survive the journey home. Then decide on a destination out of the smoke to find some winter fresh air – nothing fancy, just a jaunt.
Both went entirely to plan. The Tesla turned out to be almost too easy to drive.
Its lack of dials was a little peculiar at first, with a large touchscreen in the centre of the car handling all necessary read-outs.
Bristling with cameras to aid manoeuvring and a curious video game-like graphic of the position of other motorists, cyclists, traffic lights and traffic cones, it was a vision of the self-drive future yet-to-come.
Indeed, there was a sense of the car already becoming self-aware.
I felt it intervene at least once while driving on the motorway to prevent us wandering into another lane.
No bad thing, perhaps, but the wheel moving independently was a little disconcerting.
I opted to travel to Warley Place Nature Reserve as a fair test of a run just beyond the M25.
The Tesla – firm of ride – managed the country bumps well enough and I found myself rapidly delivered to a place less than an hour from London, but also worlds away.
Run by a voluntary, charitable trust, the reserve comprised the remains of the gardens attached to the long ruined house, the family home of Edwardian horticulturist Ellen Willmott.
It was a beautiful spot in the February sunshine, liberally coated in daffodils, snowdrops and crocuses.
While not completely impossible to access via public transport, the only alternative to a car would be to catch a train to Brentwood and arrange taxis to and from its location.
The Essex Wildlife Trust proved a welcoming bunch, albeit a little over sensitive on the health and safety front.
Cheery warnings were imparted as I walked through the gate about keeping to the path lest terrible peril befall the unwary.
This proved to be very much the theme of my visit as fresh terrors were regularly depicted by scary yellow signs flagging deep and dangerous water in every pond, unstable walls and the ever-present threat of CCTV surveillance.
But despite a flash of hailstones and the fearful cacophony of the warnings, I was charmed by the place.
Clearly loved by its volunteer army, who keep its ramshackle beauty in good order – enough to attract a multitude of birds and other wildlife.
It was the ideal antidote to the formality of the city, although a view of a distant Canary Wharf did pop up from one vantage point.
As for the car itself, it was more or less effortless to drive after getting used to its curious lack of forward crawl.
Unlike standard automatics the Model Y doesn’t creep forward when the brake is released but waits until its accelerator is pressed.
It also brakes when it is released, more akin to a manual petrol car and a feature that essentially lends itself to one-pedal driving.
This was my first experience of renting an electric and proved seamless enough with a full battery supplied on collection.
The only minor faff was having to ensure an 80% charge on return of the vehicle, which took about 15 minutes on one of Canary Wharf’s Level -3 Tesla Superchargers.
Then it was simple to park up, drop the key in the slot and go about my morning.
Sixt also rents petrol cars and hybrids – still its main area of business – with prices for the same length of hire starting at £32.66 per day for an entry level vehicle.
FACT FILE – TESLA MODEL Y LONG RANGE
Cost: £74.66 per day (from Sixt)
Minimum hire: 3 days (from Sixt)
Range: 331 miles
0-60mph: 3.5 seconds
Top Speed: 135mph
Equipment: 15” Touchscreen
Seating: 5 Adults
Hire from UFO Drive of a Tesla Model Y Long Range was £102 per day at the time of writing
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- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via firstname.lastname@example.org