Most people, when they think of Bathurst think of Mt Panorama, V8s and motorsport. However, this regional city that lies 200km North West of Sydney is way more than a racetrack, it is the oldest inland settlement in Australia and this ‘Gold Country’ was home to the first Aussie Gold Rush. Maserati took us to find out more about this semi untamed territory, the vast history and to gain a greater understanding of what made the town famous – pah, not really, they took us there to play with the new Quattroporte!
Briefing took place at Bathurst Aero Club, an aeronautical society that has had a rich association with Australian aviation since 1930 and has photographic proof of this adorning every wall of their clubhouse (they serve a mean cream sponge cake too).
With the MY17 edition Maserati have ‘enhanced’ the exterior rather than doing a full on makeover. It has a new Grille with a refined shape and bars (inspired by the Alfieri) and boasts an air shutter system hidden behind that allows its big mouth to gulps in air when open (cooling the engine when needed) and reduces drag efficiency by 10% and allows quicker engine heating when closed. It has a new bumper, lower grille vents and splitter plus new side skirts for the really observant. Mirrors have changed too and now have 360 degree cameras for close navigation and parking.
Maserati have spent a fair amount of time tinkering with the things you can’t see but certainly feel. Revised Skyhook suspension (Luxury is more compliant and Sport is more aggressive). The Gearbox has been remapped for better response and the brakes are more powerful. NVH (noise, vibration harshness) has been improved; the Interior is now quieter with increased sound deadening achieved through the likes of an air gap in the carpets and double glazed glass.
It’s hard to miss the improvements in the cabin. The whole centre console is new. Uconnect has android and smart phone mirroring and there is now a small draw to slide your phone into. The two level rotary control works in conjunction with the high-def 8.4”touch screen (that has pinch and swipe familiarity) meaning that the entire infotainment system is easy to navigate around. Harman Kardon sound system with Clari-Fi will fill your ears with crystal clear music should you ever get bored of listening to the roar of the V6 or V8 engine (there is also a B&W option).
While on the subject of engines, you can have the choice of three – going from the V6 diesel (with 202kW and 600Nm) to the glorious V8 (with 390kW and 650Nm) 0-100 comes at 6.4seconds or 4.7 seconds respectively and they are all connected to an 8 speed auto box.
Despite all the technology changes and advancements that surround the new Quattroporte, there is no doubt that it’s the exclusivity and hand crafted materials that ultimately keep this brand desirable. You can still pop into the Atelier Suite and completely personalise your vehicle but to help you out Maserati have developed two new trim and equipment levels – Gran Lusso (with enhancements such as luxurious Ermenegildo Zegna specially developed silk bolsters) and Gran Sport (with a racing look and the performance to match).
With our knowledge of the car filled to the brim it was time to hit the rugged streets of Bathurst country and experience the changes first hand. With three vehicles to choose from, we opted for the GTS (of course), quickly put it into Sport and tore off towards the main road. The route included long straights, hill climbs and winding rural country roads – the new Quattroporte lapped up the k’s roaring loudly as it ripped up and down the gears. Aussie roads are pretty unforgiving, unusual cambers, ruts and potholes, it’s a mess out there. The Quattroporte did dance a little if I’m honest but a quick change of suspension (leaving the engine where it was) and everything was fine and dandy again. In all the excitement we missed our turn and therefore deviated from the course, resulting in us plugging the destination into the Sat Nav – needless to say it all worked out fine, only five minutes late for lunch.
We ate at Mayfield Garden in Oberon. Privately owned, it’s one of the world’s largest cool climate gardens (although it was damned hot there). Inspired by the grandeur of English country garden estates, it’s 160 acres of stunning picturesque garden set within a 5,000 acre working farm. The menu is reasonably large but I went for the chicken burger (food is good but driving a Maserati Quattroporte is better).
With lunch out of the way; we switched cars and headed out again on the return trip to Bathurst airport. The 3L V6 is still a great engine (302kW/550Nm) but you do notice the difference. We arrived back a little ahead of schedule (like I said, it’s an impressive ride) and had chance to take a few glory pictures before catching the flight back to Sydney.
Bathurst is a historic town that I’m sure is full of stories and tales reminiscent of old Western America – Unfortunately (or is it thankfully) we didn’t stop long enough to see any of it!
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