A Few Hours With a Roaring Maserati in Pampanga
Even in its native Italy, few people drive Maseratis. This was according to Marcello Puglisi, a professional racecar driver and instructor who was riding shotgun with me on the paved roads and highways of Clark, Pampanga. It was a drive organized by the Italian luxury marque to familiarize select media with its lineup of powerful and eye-catching vehicles.
“It’s obviously a luxury brand so fewer people drive it than, say, the Japanese models,” Puglisi said. “It’s not for everyone.”
After a briefing at the new Marriott Hotel in Clark, participants took the wheel of three different Maserati models—the Ghibli, the Quattroporte and the Levante. I was assigned the white Ghibli, a sports sedan that I was already familiar with, having once driven it for a weekend a year ago.
Maserati says the Ghibli is its all-time bestselling model, and it’s not hard to understand why. Straightforward and uncomplicated, the Ghibli is a quick study. Just seconds after I slid into the driver’s seat, the memories of having it driven it before came rushing back. Puglisi says the model underwent significant exterior restyling as well enhanced interior upgrades, but the feeling of importance and comfort remains.
Inside, there were leather seats, an easy-to-navigate infotainment system and plenty of legroom for those in the front and back. Clearly it's a car designed for the ultimate comfort and convenience of both driver and passenger.
On the roads inside Clark, I maintained a safe cruising speed, but Puglisi encouraged me to gun the accelerator once we entered the Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX). The Ghibli now comes in two trims—the GranLusso and the GranSport—and I was excited to know that we were in the GranSport variant. With the flick of a switch to turn on Sport mode, the distinctive Maserati growl gave way to a full on roar as we easily passed other vehicles on the freeway.
It wasn't long before we finally arrived at our destination, an activity park inside a new residential and commercial development. We spent about an hour trying out the zipline and controlled descent feature, but I just wanted more drive time with the car.
Unfortunately, there was no time to experience the Quattroporte and the Levante this time around, although I surmised the experience couldn't have been that much different from the Ghibli. We headed back to our starting point soon after.
I’ve always been a conservative driver and would start mildly palm-sweating the instant the needle pushes past 100kph, but there was something about the Ghibli that made me feel calm and in control, even when we went over the limit for a few seconds. I understood then that it was in the nature of the Italian brand to spoil its occupants and give them the full luxury experience.
Lucky are the few who get to enjoy this feeling each time they slide into their Maseratis.