Escaping the city in a Maserati
Long car trips usually start on the road, but this one began at sea. Autostrada Motore Inc. divided participants of its recent Maserati City Escape event into two groups: one would sail first into picturesque Pico De Loro in Batangas, and then drive back to Manila behind the wheel of one of its gorgeous cars, while the other did it the other way around.
I didn’t mind being in the first group. We were asked to meet at the Manila Yacht Club at 7 a.m. Kicking back onboard a luxury yacht didn’t sound like such a bad idea.
Past the murky, smelly waters of Manila Bay, and after the Italian-made Aicon yacht picked up speed due south, the reality of the situation began to hit—a leisurely trip to the beach via a luxury sea vessel doesn’t happen very often, except, perhaps, when you inhabit the upper echelons of high society. And that, precisely, was the idea.
“We want you to get a taste of the Maserati lifestyle,” Autostrada Motore executive director Marc Soong said.
His brother Jason Soong, also an official at the luxury car distrbution company founded by their father Wellington Soong, was with us on the yacht, and together with a bunch of other pleasant motoring journalists, we spent the next two hours letting the ocean breeze whip our hair and the mid-morning sun graze our heads and shoulders.
It was easy to get used to the silent thrill of a quick getaway on the sunny deck of a multi-million peso yacht, with a piece of cheddar from the meat-and-cheese platter on one hand, and ice cold cerveza in the other.
Soon enough, the golden sands of Pico De Loro came into view. We docked a ways off, and were whisked away via vans through the sprawling, hilly grounds and into the private beach club of the Henry Sy-owned leisure resort.
Lunch followed in a function room overlooking a swimming pool, with the sandy beach and blue ocean further beyond.
You had to wonder how often the wealthy indulged in this kind of lifestyle: take the yacht down to Pico, have lunch at the beach club, and maybe a quick dip in the pool.
Today, though, it was us living the life, and enjoying the experience.
After dessert and coffee, organizers put me behind the wheel of a Quattroporte, which I used to carefully negotiate the winding mountain passes with spectacular ocean views off to one side.
I have had the pleasure of driving a Maserati once before—a Ghibli. The experience this time was not unlike the first, except maybe for the relatively roomier interiors of the Quattroporte.
What I’ve learned from driving a Maserati is how easy it is to forget the power and performance of a car when you’re enveloped in luxury and class.
Ermenegildo Zegna leather interiors, Bowers and Wilkins entertainment system, and the overall sophistication that an Italian-made automobile exudes, you get caught up in the fantasy of driving something reserved for only a privileged few that essential information like engine performance, horsepower and handling almost seem like an afterthought.
But it was good to be reminded that Maseratis are all about function, as well as form. Clearly it’s a brand for those who can appreciate exceptional automotive technology, as well as for those who refuse to fade into the background in a sea of similar-looking car makes and models.
My driving partner and I switched to a Levante—Maserati’s debut in the SUV space—about 40 minutes into the journey back.
I rode shotgun for the rest of the trip back to Manila, fiddling with the entertainment system as I watched the world outside go by. Before I knew it, we were back where we started, waiting for our colleagues who took the more scenic route via the yacht.
It really was a taste of the luxurious lifestyle, and one that ended way too soon.