Maserati Ghibli: The day’s light wanes with me paused before an unfamiliar crux near Aspen, fretting the initial pangs of panic. Palms sweat. Organs cramp. I question my preparedness, cast aspersions on my skills. What have I gotten myself into? What am I going to do?

2014-Maserati-GhibliThe only option, really, is to drop in. I attack the crux, which in this case is not a wind-hammered cliff but a collection of elegantly gorgeous, imposingly stylish, and frequently Italian beautiful people, experts in the gilded fields of fashion and luxury. Silk and cashmere scarves feather most their throats, causing my own naked neck to stand out like a pornographic tattoo.

I approach the beautiful people — nervously shaking hands, instantaneously forgetting names. I’m at the Aspen private club Casa Tua for a VIP party thrown by Maserati, the Italian manufacturer of $200,000-cars that drive 200 mph. Perhaps you’ve heard of it.


The last two seasons, Maserati has decamped to a few upper-edge Aspen hotels including the Viceroy Snowmass, to offer well-heeled citizens and visitors an irresistible test drive deal. Called “Welcome Winter,” the program is also offered at several exclusive resorts in Europe. The month-long Snowmass version concludes with said VIP wingding at Casa Tua, where I gulp rare steak and robust Brunello while laboring to understand the babel of foreign tongues.

I wake the next day at the Viceroy under Egyptian cotton linens with God-only-knows-what-number thread count; then pad down to a breakfast buffet that sates epicures and gluttons alike. Several of us writers and photographers gather for a conference launching Maserati’s AWD models, Quattroporte and Ghibli. Jiannina Castro — the company’s raven-haired North America PR chief — announces with a musical accent, “The Quattroporte is the very first AWD for Maserati. It is Italian, so we want flair!”

No worries there: I’m tasked to test-drive a luridly royal blue GHIBLI (MSRP: $70,000) appointed in fragrant leather and cherry wood. Its stereo cranks. There are seat warmers. The Ghibli boasts imperceptibly fast on-demand all-wheel drive. Its engine purrs while transitioning — according to a proprietary algorithm — from precise Sport mode to maximum traction I.C.E. (Increased Control Efficiency) mode.

Sophia, editor of a Moroccan luxury magazine, buckles-up in the passenger seat and we’re off, revving up the Viceroy’s driveway with an exhilarating burst. Once past Highway 82’s countless roundabouts, I work the steering wheel’s paddle shifters and stomp the accelerator, rendering WoodyCreekBasaltElJebelCarbondale an uninterrupted blur. Then the fun starts:

Maserati-GhibliA turn onto nondescript macadam melts into the pure motoring joy that is Catherine Store Road — a serpentine through sageand juniper-decorated drainages that begs for an Italian stallion. In the Ghibli (named after an African desert wind), 70 mph feels like 40. By the time Sophia alerts to rockfall in the road — “Stones!” she screams, with Old World inflection — I’ve already swerved around. You can call me Steve McQueen.

Too soon we arrive at Maserati’s designated rest stop: Missouri Heights Schoolhouse, a clapboard structure built in 1917 that’s now listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. Though VIPs from Japan, China, Lebanon, France, Italy, and Canada are also throttling Maseratis today, team Morocco/USA arrives first. I brim with unexpurgated pride for a
while… until a hand pats my shoulder, a hand belonging to an elegant, straight‑backed, white-haired Italian man whom I believe is named Gino, but gosh, there are lots of elegant and
expressive Italian men around this day, who can possibly keep up?

Anyway, Gino pats me, smiles, and wails, with mock horror, “O Dio Mio! How can you drive this car without driving gloves?!?” Together, we chuckle warmly at my hayseed ways. And that’s how things go the first and only time I’ve enjoyed the good fortune to drive a $70,000-car. With any luck, it won’t be the last.