Gina Baksa enjoys a Maserati Drive, Design and Gourmet event at Beaverbrook luxury country house hotel. Starting her engines in the Maserati GranTurismo MC and the new Maserati Levante S GranSport.
Three of my favourite things: luxury cars, luxury hotels and Italian cuisine. I’m in heaven.
We’re at Beaverbrook, the quintessential British country house hotel nestled in the heart of the Surrey Hills. Formerly the home of newspaper magnate and politician Lord Beaverbrook, the estate and environs are the perfect settings to get up close and personal with the Maserati Levante S GranSport and its iconic stablemate, the Maserati GranTurismo MC.
A wintery fog rolls stealthily up the valley as I arrive, lending this magnificent Victorian mansion an air of mystery. If walls could talk… the guest list here is an homage to the great, the good, and the not so good. Chaplin, Jean Cocteau, Liz Taylor – some illustrious souls even have rooms named after them, including the most frequent guest of all former Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
I’ve booked a massage at Beaverbrook’s Coach House spa before my Maserati GranTurismo MC test drive. The interior of the leisure and spa complex here is a work in progress (looks amazing) but you can still enjoy treatments (book Mir for a massage – she’s superb) and luxuriate in the sauna and jacuzzi before a dip in the indoor pool. There’s an outdoor pool here too for more hardy folk. Roll on summer.
Blissfully relaxed post-treatment, I leave the cocoon of the spa and slip into the warm Alcantara leather seats of my Rosso Italian GranTurismo MC (Maserati Corse) stallion parked outside. She’s the fastest – and lightest – car in the Maserati GT range. And looks absolutely stunning parked on the hotel forecourt. The GranTurismo MC iconic looks: long front, muscular rear and defined lines look like it’s about to take off – even at a standstill.
The updated Pininfarina-design (also evident in the ‘Sport’ version) has improved aerodynamic styling across its muscular yet sleek sports coupé frame. Her 20-inch Trofeo aluminium wheels and Brembo red calipers are eye-catching. As are the air vents on the bonnet and front wings. I especially like the larger front grille – its dark ‘shark teeth’ complementing the baby fin aerofoil on the roof.
Jamie, my co-pilot, is a racing driver. And naturally, he’s a Maserati fan. “I often take this car to events,” he tells me. “She’s my baby.” Some baby. One tap on the aluminium pedal, both hands on the leather-clad wheel and we are rocket-propelled along the driveway past the adjacent Garden House – the location of tomorrow’s cookery class with chef Francesco Mazzei.
Driving a Maserati GranTurismo is like driving no other automobile. Such superb comfort combined with a truly exhilarating performance from its 4.7-litre engine. There’s a sophistication in the way the car feels and handles: infinite energy waiting to be released. And the primal scream from the Maranello-built V8 engines makes my heart skip a beat as we thunder down the driveway onto the Surrey backroads.
Excitement levels rise in the sexy (yet comfortable) low-slung black Alcantara Poltrona Frau® racing seats, adorned with the iconic trident motif on the headrest. Cornering is a joy thanks to superb road holding and the supportive thigh panels and excellent lumbar support. I open the window just to hear those V8s roar – in Sports mode a valve channels exhaust gases so they completely bypass the silencer. This apparently reduces back pressure to create that unmistakable Maserati growl up the revs.
This cool cat is ready to pounce. Only one problem – the speed cameras and the encroaching fog that hold me back from nudging anywhere near her top speed of 301km/h (187 mph). Damn! Press trip to Germany Maserati?
The seating position is adjustable, as you’d expect, and although I don’t have the longest of legs I feel comfortable and can easily reach the redesigned lower console and rotary dial. Usefully the driving modes button is now in front of the leather-clad gear lever.
Choose from Auto-Normal, Auto-Sport, Manual-Normal, Manual-Sport and ICE. The redesigned interface and 8.4-inch infotainment system are clear and easy to use incorporating Apple Play and Android Auto. Tunes courtesy of the top-of-the-range Harmon Kardon Premium sound system.