Maserati goes back to its roots with the GranTurismo coupe. Jonathan Crouch reports...
Ten Second Review
Stylish, luxurious but still a potent performance weapon, the Maserati GranTurismo is on paper, part luxury Grand Tourer, part serious performance sportscar. On the road, it feels more Maranello than Mercedes, thank goodness. A Maserati should be nothing less.
We're seeing a subtle repositioning of the Maserati brand. The famous Italian manufacturer is being edged out from the shadow of Ferrari where it's resided for too long and this GranTurismo sportscar is proving to be central in terms of determining its new resting place in the market. Along with the Quattroporte four-door saloon on which it is based, the GranTurismo is a slightly different kind of Maserati. Rather than simply offering top-end Italian sportscars for people who can't quite stretch to something from Maranello, the marque is these days focusing more acutely on luxury, comfort and the understated elegance that's always been part of the Maserati package. Performance seekers need not despair, though. They'll still get their fair share of brutal acceleration and finely-honed handling.
Power for the more powerful GranTurismo S that we tried comes from the same Ferrari-sourced 4.7-litre V8 engine that's found in the most powerful version of their Quattroporte saloon. Alfa Romeo also use it for their 8C Competizione supercar. The alternative is a 405bhp 4.2-litre version of the same powerplant that manages 0-60mph in 5.2s, only 0.3s slower than the S, on the way to a similar top speed of around 180mph. It's not quite in the ultimate supercar bracket but all of that should be plenty for the playboy on his day off. The GranTurismo has obviously been designed to entertain as well as cosset its driver. The front-engined rear-wheel drive layout helps it achieve a well balanced 49/51 weight distribution, one of the reasons why we found ourselves able to throw this Maserati around rather more than we expected given its hefty 1880kgs kerbweight. As a result, unlike, say a Jaguar XK or a Mercedes CL, this is a car that is nearly as at home on a twisting B road as it is on a motorway. Only the steering lets things down a bit, rather too vague at speed but slightly heavier than you'd like when parking. The automatic gearbox with its wheel-mounted paddle shifters is much better than the jerky 'DuoSelect' automated manual 'box that I've tried on other Maseratis (and which remains an option on this S model). This standard auto still has wheel-mounted paddles and is cleverly able to adapt to your driving style as well as to the prevailing road conditions. The extra outlay required by the S model gets you not only the bigger engine but a faster-shifting gearbox and uprated brakes. If you need a softer ride and don't care too much about sportscar handling, then it may be worth finding a little extra cash for the optional Skyhook suspension system we tried. In 'Sport' setting, the car feels pretty much like a standard GranTurismo on fixed rate dampers, but Skyhook does give you the additional option of switching to a more comfort-orientated mode for motorway work.
Design and Build
The exterior lines have real drama about them, the three holes behind the front wheelarch referencing the Quattroporte saloon. The gaping Maserati grille with its silver trident dominates the front end below the long bonnet that plunges at the nose. There's a feeling of power in the muscular hindquarters, with the curves at the rear bulging around to form the integrated boot spoiler. Inside, the beautifully finished cabin is split in two by the wide transmission tunnel while the V design at the top of the dash is said to increase the sporty feel by making occupants feel like they're sitting lower in the car. The seats all feature Maserati's trident logo on their headrests and there are subtle chrome inlays for the controls. The GT is a sizable 4,881mm in length, so it's a good 500mm longer than the old Coupe that this car replaced but the wheelbase is 126mm shorter than the Quattroporte saloon from which it borrows its basic underpinnings. Crucially to the more practical and luxurious direction that Maserati is being led in, the GranTurismo is a 2+2 and although claims by the manufacturer that it can sit "two adults comfortably even on longer journeys" do stretch the limits a little, there's definitely room for a pair of kids in those sculpted rear seats. The 260-litre boot though, is smaller than that offered by most rivals.
Market and Model
Apart from the choice of either 4.2 or 4.7-litre engines, those who go for the 4.7-litre S can choose either Maserati's semi-automatic 'DuoSelect' 'automated manual' gearbox or the standard and much less jerky automatic transmission. There's no conventional manual gearbox offered. An open-topped GranCabrio model is offered with the standard 4.7-litre engine at a premium of around £11,000.
Cost of Ownership
Running costs for the Maserati GranTurismo might not be supercar in their magnitude but they will probably be as near as damn it. Group 20 insurance you'd expect and any 4.2 or 4.7-litre V8 is going to suck in fuel and pump out CO2 at a level that no environmentalist without his own personal carbon offset programme is going to countenance. Fuel consumption varies between 17 and 20mpg on the combined cycle, depending on the model you choose, but that will drop to between 10-12mpg around town. The CO2 figures range between 330 and 387g/km. As a result, it's safe to say that anyone you see at the wheel of a GranTurismo doesn't have green issues at the top of their priority list. Just be thankful they're travelling by car and not in their private jet.
This car is refreshing in that it's a GT that for once, lives up to its name. Fast, stylish and capable of covering transcontinental distances while keeping occupants and their designer luggage in the rarefied atmosphere to which they are accustomed. That's what GT motoring should be about and it sums up the Maserati GranTurismo. With gorgeous looks for once accompanied by an appropriate emphasis on quality, this model has been a useful step forward for the brand. And amid all the talk of luxury seating, chrome inlays and Poltrona Frau leather, it's important to remember that there's a 180mph performance sportscar lurking here. And a worthy bearer of a classic badge.