Maserati wants its vehicles to have style and luxury as well as high performance. Steve Walker checks out the GranCabrio.
Maserati is a car brand that conjures up all the right images. The problem was that for too long, the achingly cool Italian heritage was fronting up for a lacklustre product range. The good news for anyone with a soft spot for the classic Maseratis of the 50s and 60s, or a spare hundred grand to spend on a luxury saloon or sportscar, is that the company looks to have turned the corner. The latest crop of cars is worthy of the trident badge and none whisper Maserati more seductively than the GranCabrio.
Ten Second Review
Pretty? Check. Thunderous V8 engine? Check. Luxurious leather-clad interior? Check. The Maserati GranCabrio looks a fine demonstration of where the Maserati is going in the modern era. If you're lucky enough to have £100,000 to spend on a sports convertible, you would be remiss not to consider it.
Maserati's Fiat Group overlords detached it from Ferrari in 2005 and are a aligning it more closely with Alfa Romeo these days. The brand had appeared to lose its way in the 80s and 90s but turned a profit for the first time in 17 years of Fiat Group ownership in 2007, something that was largely thanks to the introduction of the GranTurismo coupe. In combination with the Quattroporte saloon, the car signalled a repositioning of Maserati into a more luxurious Italian performance car brand. The GranCabrio, the open-topped version of the GranTurismo, only strengthens its hand in this area.
Engine choice isn't a Maserati forte and those with an aversion to petrol V8s will need to look elsewhere. It's a good thing that there's very little not to like about the hugely charismatic 4.7-litre engine that powers the GranCabrio and the other modern Maseratis. With 440bhp at 7,000rpm, owners can expect that sportscar intensity at the top end with a beguiling exhaust note to match but there's also 490Nm of torque at 4,750rpm so it should be perfectly possible to leisurely waft the GranCabrio around at speeds more suited to showing-off. A 175mph top speed and 5.4s 0-60mph sprint time will leave nobody in any doubt as to the car's potency. The Maserati Skyhook suspension system is included as standard on the GranCabrio. It integrates with the MSP safety system and the automatic paddle-shift gearbox to adjust the car's damper settings according to the driving conditions. It can also be locked in to Sport mode for a firmer ride and better body control when you're looking to make the most of the GranCabrio's performance. Braking is by Brembo with the aid of dual-cast brake disc technology for optimum stopping performance.
Design and Build
A Maserati should be beautiful and with the GranTurismo, this manufacturer showed it has regained a firm grip on what makes a car gawp-worthy. The GranCabrio appears to have shed none of the coupe version's elegance and poise in the process of loosing its roof. The replacement for the hard-top is a traditional canvas item that takes a leisurely 28 seconds to lower, but then, the GranCabrio is touted as a full four-seater convertible and a 2,942mm wheelbase would appear to back this up. The roof has a lot of cabin to cover and should be forgiven for taking its time. At least the conversion process can take place at speeds of up to 19mph. The advantages of a canvas roof are clear for Maserati. As well as being the traditional method by which classic open-topped models like the A6G Frua Spyder, 3500 GT Vignale Spyder and Mistral Spyder kept the weather out, it helps the car retain its aerodynamic shape and optimum weight distribution. The GranCabrio has the same high level of aerodynamic performance as the hard-top GranTurismo, a lower centre of gravity and the same slightly rear-biased weight distribution.
Market and Model
Great pride is taken by Maserati in its ability to offer a whole host of bespoke trim and colour options to its customers. With 14 exterior paint shades, six different canvas colours for the soft-top roof, a variety of interior leather options and cabin trim finishes ranging from Dark Chrome to Moonwood, there's huge scope to let your personal taste, or lack thereof, to run wild. Included is a BOSE audio system and an advanced dual-zone climate control system. There's even a bespoke luggage set specially designed to fit the 173-litre boot on the options list. With an asking price that's homing in on the £100,000 barrier, the Maserati GranTurismo is pitched against some illustrious rivals. Customers may also have considered top-end versions of the Mercedes SL, the Aston Martin Vantage Roadster and BMW's M6 convertible but even in this company, the Maserati badge holds a powerful allure.
Cost of Ownership
Assuming you're imagining that some seriously prohibitive running costs will accompany the GranCabrio, the running costs aren't as frightening as you might imagine. The car returns around 18mpg on the combined cycle but you might get as much as 25mpg on the open road if the temptation to plant the throttle can be resisted. CO2 emissions are measured at 354g/km, so taxation will be hefty but that's about as predictable as the group 20 insurance. None of this matters unduly in a car costing £100,000 and owners could always plant a hectare or two of forest in their back garden to salve their environmental conscience.
Convertible sportscar buyers who find Ferraris and Lamborghinis too extrovert, Aston Martins and Jaguars too stuffy and offerings from BMW and Mercedes-Benz too clinical, have an alternative that blends beauty with, performance and class. The GranCabrio is a good approximation of just what Maserati is capable of in the modern era and even pitched against the finest open-top sportscars around, it's equipped to stand out.