"There's nothing else I can think of that delivers such a beguiling blend of luxury, speed and occasion.."
In place of the standard car's burbling 405bhp 4.2-litre Ferrari-built V8, the S delivers a 4.7-litre version of the same powerplant basically borrowed from Alfa Romeo's 8C Competizione sportscar. Perhaps more importantly, also delivers a far more focused driving experience. The basic car does, after all, live up to it's name. It's a Grand Tourer, albeit one also capable of hustling along a broken B-road when the need arises, the front-engined rear-wheel drive layout helping it achieve a well balanced 49/51 weight distribution. Building on this, the S-model is far more of a Porsche 911 or BMW M6 competitor, with all that entails. The reasons why go further than the bigger engine under the bonnet. Let's start with the automatic gearbox (Maserati don't bother themselves with manuals), not, to be honest, my favourite part of the standard car, being a touch ponderous and slow-witted, despite the Michael Schumacher promise of the steering wheel paddles. I'd be tempted (were I a lottery winner) to pay the extra for the S model just to get its far better electro-actuated gearbox with fast MC-Shift. This is arranged in the transaxle layout typical of high-performance sports cars that represents the technological DNA of all Maseratis. Like the standard model's transmission, this gearbox adapts to your driving style as well as to the prevailing road conditions.
Right, let's go on to brakes. I haven't been fortunate enough to take a standard GranTurismo on a trackday but I have little doubt that if I did, its braking performance would be very similar to obvious Jaguar/Mercedes/BMW rivals. In other words, I'd get brake fade after 5-10 hot laps. Hitherto, only Porsche's 911 has avoided this issue. Hence the effort expended in this area by Maserati. The GranTurismo S makes use of the high-performance brake system developed in collaboration with Brembo and introduced for the first time in the automotive field on the Maserati Quattroporte Sport GT S. The system features front brake discs made with dual-cast technology - a dual casting of cast iron and aluminium, paired with aluminium mono-bloc 6-piston brake callipers, ensuring optimised braking performance. Of course, it isn't just all about how cars of this kind drive. You want visually to know that your investment has been well spent. So the exterior of the Maserati GranTurismo S is characterised by a number of aesthetic modifications that, although discreet, are pretty effective and make the car body appear sportier without abandoning the sleekness of the Pininfarina lines. The interior upholstered in Poltrona Frau leather and Alcantara is supposed to reflect the sporty flair of this car and it does indeed feel very special. Both front and rear seats are distinguished by a different, more dynamic design with horizontal piping on the seats and seatbacks. Other than this and an £11,000 premium over the standard model that takes the price close to £90,000, the recipe is much as you'd find it any GranTurismo. Let's start with build quality as it's natural that potential buyers might have a few concerns on that score given the track record of this car's predecessor, the Maserati Coupe. In the last one of those I drove, the gearshift surround came off in my hand. With this car, things are much, much better, as well they should be. This GranTurismo addresses that issue while updating the design and detailing that go into making a Maserati feel special. The car is a sizable 4,881mm in length, so it's a good 500mm longer than the old Coupe but the wheelbase is 126mm shorter than the Quattroporte 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 in the back, 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 exterior lines have real drama about them, a progression as they are from the well received Birdcage concept car that was also styled by Pininfarina. The three holes behind the front wheelarch reference the Quattroporte saloon and the gaping Maserati grille with its silver trident dominates the front end below the long bonnet that plunges at the nose. There's power in the muscular hindquarters with the curves at the rear bulging around to form the integrated boot spoiler. Inside, the 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 the trident logo on their headrests and there are subtle chrome inlays for the controls. Running costs for the GranTurismo might not be supercar in their magnitude but they will probably be as near as damn it. The 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. It's safe to say that anyone you see at the wheel of this car 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. Overall, I've ended up liking this Maserati a lot more than I thought I would. There was a need for a more sharply focused version of the GranTurismo, something the S version beautifully delivers. No, it's still not the sharpest steer in the class but assuming you can't stump up nearly £140,000 for a Bentley Continental GT Speed, there's nothing else I can think of that delivers such a beguiling blend of luxury, speed and occasion.
Facts at a Glance
Facts At A Glance CAR: Maserati GranTurismo S PRICE: £89,900 - on the road INSURANCE GROUP: 20 CO2 EMISSIONS: 387g/km PERFORMANCE: 0-62mph 4.9s / max speed 183mph FUEL CONSUMPTION: (combined) 17.0mpg STANDARD SAFETY FEATURES: Twin front, rear & side airbags, ABS, ESP WILL IT FIT IN YOUR GARAGE?: length/width/height 4875/1890/1370mm