Most of us are aware of the Italian car brand Maserati. For over a century, the luxury marque has represented much of what is great in automotive excellence. However, Maserati also has a GranTurismo Philosophy that for some inexplicable reason, I was unaware of. So they invited me along to one of their very special Ultimate Drive days in Sydney to tell, and more importantly show, me what it was all about.
Their GranTurismo Philosophy is this: “We believe in travelling great distances in comfort and in distinctive Italian style. We believe in the unique note of our engines and in the sound of history. We believe in the magic of the pencil to create bold, beautiful design. We have been a pioneer of these beliefs and the philosophy of genuine grand touring that is at the heart of every single Maserati. We, like you, seek the best the world has to offer in life’s journey.”
This of course, is a bold mantra, but as the line of Maserati’s pulled up outside our five-star Pullman hotel to take us to Sydney Motorsport Park, I started to get a sense of things to come. But these senses were soon to be overwhelmed.
The pit garage at the track had been transformed into what could be best described as a Maserati suite. Pure white walls adorned with images of their motorsport heritage, scaled down models of some of their more iconic sports cars, luxurious leather sofas, branded accessories and an all-important espresso machine.
A light breakfast was supplied with fruits and prosciutto and the barista-made coffees came with powdered chocolate Maserati logos. The attention to detail was most excellent—even the toilet had a range of upmarket colognes, which I sprayed on liberally.
Glen Sealey, GM Maserati ANZ, took centre stage and reinforced Maserati’s position in the luxury global vehicle landscape then introduced us to the GranTurismo Philosophy, something that would be evident throughout the ultimate driving day.
We were split into groups that would rotate around various events and introduce us to the 2019 range that Maserati has on offer. Let the games begin.
An off-road track had been set up in the hills that surround the racetrack that included rutted and dusty trails and steep gradients to climb and descend—ideal for the Levante. The majority of the time, this modern mid to large sized SUV will only be seen in more affluent neighbourhoods and to be honest, quite rightly. Seeped in finely crafted leather, it’s an attache case on wheels. But it’s also incredibly capable when the surface becomes unstable. The off-road setting raises the suspension up to two levels and the AWD system works seamlessly. The Levante conquered the course with ease and all on road tyres.
After a light snack, we left the SUVs (we would see them again later)in favour of some ‘turn 2’ cornering tuition. This involved taking the Quattroporte, Ghibli and Gran Cabrio around a double apex with an off camber at speed. Although fairly taxing (and maybe I should have taken more notes), more importantly, it introduced us to that hair tingling exhaust note that is true Maserati.
Another morsel or two of food, before we moved on to arguably the most enjoyable event of the day—the skidpan. Traction on then traction off, the thrill of having the rear end of these Italian stallions stepping out sideways on a soaking wet rink is almost indescribable.
Time for lunch. brand ambassador Giovanni Pilu (from PILU at Freshwater) had laid on an Italian feast that still has my mouth watering. Antipasto with salumi, prosciutto and parmigiano reggianno. A primo of tortelli filled with mortadella. And a secondi of rangers valley three-score flank tagliata and roast spatchcock. It was a meal to be shared and the stories of the morning’s events were already being told.
Last but by no means least, we were let loose on the full circuit. Rotating through the entire range (including the Levante that had just been climbing the surrounding hillside) and with a motorsport professional beside us, we drove at speed and with Italian enthusiasm—what an experience. The Maserati Ultimate Driving day is an invite-only event and is complimentary—yes you heard that correctly, this amazing day of complete brand immersion is totally gratis (but I guess you have to be special).
Grand Touring in comfort with bold and beautifully designed vehicles that have a vast automotive history and a unique engine note, all underlined with distinct Italian style, the Maserati Gran Turismo is one philosophy I am happy to adhere to.