"I drive a Maserati GranTurismo like it's a Toyota Yaris"
I’ve never liked cars. Never played with them as a kid, never harboured a desire to own one, and wouldn’t know one end of a supercar from the other. The only reason I finally secured my licence to drive was for purely emergency reasons — and that was at the age of 30.
So why, you ask, am I sat behind the wheel of a Maserati GrandTurismo Sport, trying to blindly reverse into a relentless flow of will-stop-for-no-man traffic? Good question.
For all intents and purposes, this is my documented entry into the complicated world of luxury automobiles. To try to understand why people so readily plow a year’s salary into something that will get you from A to B slightly quicker than something else. I mean, how much better — if at all — are they compared to my entry-level Toyota Yaris?
For me, that journey starts with this Maserati.
Being half-Italian, brands such as Ferrari, Maserati and Alfa Romeo are a source of pride embedded in our national identity. Aware that my self-confidence is not yet up to handling a Ferrari 488 Spider (a ‘good Ferrari’, a friend assures me) on the lawless lanes of Al Khail Road, but wanting to start with something a little more manageable that will still impress,
I opted for a Maserati GranTurismo Sport.
I always thought that holding the keys to a prestigious marque’s two-door sports car would stir something deep inside me, but I was a little underwhelmed by the unremarkable, blue fob-like set handed over to me, despite the iconic trident emblem on top. That feeling was all but forgotten as I climbed down into the car’s lavish leather driver seat, which envelops you like a homely, masculine embrace from a best friend you haven’t seen in a long time. Everything felt right in my world.
That initial engine roar (and subsequent purr) you associate with cars of this calibre is as powerful and pitch-perfect as the lead in The Lion King stage show, combined with the immediate beeping of just about every sensor known to technology. You are under no illusion that this is a car of serious note. And value (Dhs485,000 of value, to be precise).
Decisions immediately have to be made, such as: which one of the eight cup holders shall I put my coffee in? Seriously: eight? In a car with only four seats? It’s definitely designed for Italians.
Like most things in our online-obsessed lives, top of the ‘To Do’ list was to send a gloating picture of me and the car to my mates. The sheer amount of insta-abuse I received in return was an indication of how much swag this car brings with it.
Speaking of ‘swag’, it is important to address the almost instant change in attitude you have when in control of an Italian-made sports car. My normally mild-mannered approach to life is infected by a need to overtake vehicles of “lesser importance”. I breakout with an allergic reaction to staying in the same lane, while uncompromisingly negotiating Sheikh Zayed Road, gliding through traffic with an ease I didn’t think was possible. A permanent grin is plastered across my face.
Scared that I was starting to enjoy this new me, I turn off to the suburbs to test the car’s acceleration and brakes between an assault course of speed bumps. I am acutely aware of wanting people to check out the car as I drive past, and equally aware that most people don’t bat an eyelid. I chalk up this body blow to my ego to the UAE having luxe sports cars littered every hundred or so metres, and not the fact that, despite my new-found bravado, I pilot the Maserati like a Yaris driver.
It would be remiss not to inform you of the GranTurismo Sport’s vital statistics. While terms like powertrain, torque, traction control, and transmission all sound mighty impressive, they mean absolutely nothing to me. A tactical Google search informs me that it has a 4.7 litre V8 engine, with 520Nm of torque at 4,760rpm and a top speed of 300kph.
I am also reliably informed that it can accelerate from zero to 100kph in a rather modest 4.7 seconds — not that the constant torrent of Dubai traffic allows me put that to the test. What I can tell you is that it is a heavy car. At 1,880kg it’s more an elephant with a jetpack, rather than fleet-footed feline on skates.
Just a couple of days at the helm of this enviable set of wheels is enough to put me through a kaleidoscope of emotion. The frustration of not knowing how to turn on the headlights; the panic of not being sure what type of petrol is needed to fill it up with (I had to text a friend); the ego-boost of someone asking to take a photo of the car; the unexpectedly impressive speed of the windscreen wipers; the fear from the knowledge that a little ding on the wheels could cost me a month’s salary to fix; and the smugness from being invited to park in front of five-star hotel entrances, instead of the valet spiriting my usual motor far, far away to spare the establishment’s blushes.
At one point I found myself just sitting happily in the driver’s seat lost in a content silence. I may never have liked cars, but I think this Maserati has awakened something inside of me.