Keith's Blog: Letting the Maserati Run Free
|Written by Keith Martin|
|Monday, 01 October 2012 12:49|
Set in the Central Oregon desert, near the Deschutes River, the lodge has a hot spring-fed pool, along with waterslides, hiking trails, miniature golf and enough other activities to keep a five-year-old going all day. We even managed to secure a reservation for one of the last raft trips of the season down the Deschutes River and through the world-famous Whitehorse rapids.
It’s was a little over 100 miles each way, following a route that took us through Government Camp at 4,000 feet, then towards central Oregon on U.S. Highway 26. It’s nearly all two-lane and lightly trafficked, a perfect opportunity for me to test Wendie’s new-to-her 2007 Maserati Quattroporte, with the Sport GT option package.
I’ve become very fond of the QP in the short time she’s owned it; I value practicality in an exotic above nearly all else, and the Maserati is a family car. It’s comfortable and stylish, with a trunk that easily swallowed the luggage for our family of three, not to mention the equipment for our two dogs. And when the “Sport” button is pressed, the QP handles like a car half its size and weight. Sort of like what a Giulia Super might been if it ever got to grow up and be a real car.
Luckily, Wendie’s car has the very nice 6-speed ZF automatic transmission, with the option of manually selecting gears by moving the shifter or by using the steering-column mounted paddle shifters.
As you might expect, the 4.3-liter, Ferrari-sourced V8 makes a delightful sound. The interior of the car is sumptuous but business-like, as I imagine an Italian Piaggio business jet might be.
As you might also expect, the simple things that Honda starting getting right with the Accord, say, 10 years ago, still elude the Italians. The CD-based navigation system belongs in a “learning-challenged” class. The various seat adjustment buttons are hard to find, and the poor passenger has no idea whether their seat is heating, or cooling, or both unless the driver happens to see the icon when it briefly flashes onto the screen.
The parking brake control is obtuse, but I just tug away at various buttons until the car releases. I still haven’t figured out how to pre-set radio stations, when I push the “phone button” the car tells me that no sim card is installed, and I live in constant worry that I will curb one of the gorgeous 20-inch chrome wheels.
But in the end, as a “practical classics” gearhead, I forgive the Maserati for all of its electronic shortcomings. Hustling along at well over 100 mph, with Wendie, Bradley, the dogs and luggage in the car, the suspension hunkered down in Sport mode, and the engine making glorious four-cam sounds – I don’t need a nav system to tell me where I’m going. I’m just following the painted center line over the mountains – in my wife’s Maserati.