A Maserati for the weekend anyone?
12:21 21 September 2015
What happens when some madman gives our equestrian writer Debbie Graham a Maserati supercar to test drive for the weekend
Driving to a polo match happens a few times in your life if you live in the Cotswolds and cover equestrian events for Cotswold Life magazine. But, driving to a charity polo match that features their Royal Highnesses, the Princes William and Harry, in a Maserati as a guest of the event’s sponsors, had a touch of surrealism about it.
Held at Cirencester Park, the match – the Jerudong Trophy – was sponsored by Maserati, and not only did the invitation include a three-course lunch and seeing the princes play polo close up, but also the loan of a Maserati Ghibli Diesel for the weekend. This was a detail I chose not to mention to my esteemed editor, Mike Lowe, until it was too late as I was worried he might argue, with some justification, this was not part of an equestrian journalist’s remit, never mind an equestrian journalist with questionable driving skills.
In fact, on finally hearing the news he tweeted “spending the whole weekend in prayer”. Whether he was seeking divine intervention for my safety, the safety of other motorists or the car’s, in case Cotswold Life was seized with a massive repair bill, I didn’t know.
For the petrol heads, it had a three-litre V6 engine, a top speed of 155mph and does 0-62mph in six seconds. For the non-petrol heads it was a white, beautiful car with sleek luxurious lines, a leather interior, and lots of sophisticated touches.
My inadequacy for the task in hand soon became apparent on its arrival as, seduced by its beauty and more important girlie details like drink holders and shiny buttons, I forgot to ask two vital questions: first, how to start the beast and, second, how to alter the seat.
It was a slightly different creature to my trusty seven-year-old Nissan Micra and, after a few anxious tries, it was time to call in the cavalry, aka deputy editor Candia McKormack. Together, we nervously jabbed the start button and before long realised touching the brake pedal at the same time was the magical ingredient. With the car at last in ‘go’ mode, it was time to take her out. Tentatively, we put her into ‘drive’ and prepared to speed off to visit everyone I knew in Cheltenham, and to wave regally at those I didn’t. Yes, we were actually moving, we were cooking on gas… we were doing 10-12 miles an hour.
And the other question I forgot to ask? Well at five-feet-nothing, I was struggling to see over the steering wheel and reach the pedals. A detour back to the flat allowed me to stock up on some cushions to bolster my height and leg length until I worked out the all-electric front seat adjustment system. Come on, that could wait till the morning for I had places to go and people to see in my all-new super car, I had named ‘Mazza’.
The man that delivered the car promised me it was easy to drive, and he was right. She was a dream; she balanced my faults, righted my wrongs, and thanks to the reversing camera made parking a doddle. It was like riding a Grand Prix dressage horse that had been crossed with a racehorse; an extremely well-schooled individual that was responsive to every touch yet had the explosive acceleration of a fit, highly-tuned thoroughbred.
On the morning of the polo match I could not resist the opportunity of testing that acceleration. Feeling confident, I flipped on the sport mode, put the foot on the gas (responsibly) and waited for launch off. It was almost instantaneous, and seconds later big grins took over our faces as she effortlessly caught the car in front, and the boy racers who had been circulating vanished in our wake. Forget engines purring, Mazza roared with delight. Even I knew this car is in a class of her own.
The smiles lasted until we got to the polo, until someone came from Maserati to pick her up and park her with the rest of the sleek Maseratis. Then embarrassment was our main emotion as their eyes fell onto the back seat and the three rather fluffy cushions residing there.
“We might put these in a boot…” came the response with a smile.
The whole day was magical, and to cap it off, to the delight of our fantastic and friendly hosts, Team Maserati won and the team’s captain, the Duke of Cambridge, took most valuable player.
Great day, great company, great polo, great weekend, and a great car – just a pity I had to give her back; do you think they would notice if I gave them my Micra instead? But then again, for the sake of Cotswold Life readers, maybe I should stick to horses. At least I kind-of know what I am talking about with them!
Prices for a new a Maserati Ghibli Diesel start from £48,835 (correct for 2014). www.maserati.com
You can follow Debbie Graham on Twitter @debsgraham
This article appeared in the August 2014 issue of Cotswold Life magazine