| First Drive | Gloucestershire, England | Maserati GranTurismo |
You have to admire the nomenclature Maserati uses for its models. Never has four-door sounded sexier than when it's said in Italian. Just try saying Quattroporte
without affecting an Italian twang. Like its saloon relative Maserati chose to state the obvious with its coupé. So its two-door GranTurismo is just that - a beautiful 'grand tourer' in the classic style, which lives up to its glorious sounding name.
In the Metal
There's no such thing as an ugly Maserati, but the people at Pininfarina were having a particularly good day when they penned the lines of the GranTurismo. It's jaw-droppingly, knee-tremblingly beautiful. Yet despite its elegant, flowing lines there's an underlying muscularity that gives the GranTurismo real purpose. The bold grille and long bonnet behind it allow for a near-perfect weight distribution, the V8 engine sitting as far behind the front axle as possible. Despite that, the cabin is large, the GranTurismo genuinely offering seating for four; though taller passengers might find headroom in the rear seats slightly lacking. Around the back, there are lights a bit too reminiscent of Audi's A5
or, whisper it, Ford's Mondeo
, but we're being hyper-critical here. Indeed, we don't reckon there's a finer looking new car on sale today.
What you get for your Money
At a touch under £80,000 you get a beautiful four-seater GT car powered by a 4.2-litre V8 that's related to Ferrari's V8 from the F430. From its 4.2-litres the GranTurismo offers 400bhp, that peak figure coming at a lofty 7,100rpm - just 150rpm before the 7,250rpm limiter. Maximum torque is 339lb.ft, it too coming in pretty high up the rev range at 4,750rpm. As with all cars in this price category you can consider that £80k list price as a mere starting point, as Maserati offers a number of essential and tempting options. First up is its Skyhook active damping, this system giving the GranTurismo the sort of cosseting yet sporting ride that should be the hallmark of any genuine GT.
Other musts include the 20-inch Birdcage wheels, painted brake callipers, a USB port with auxiliary socket plug and the Comfort Pack, which includes heated, powered front seats and powered steering column adjustment. If you want special paint or unique interior colours and finishes then Maserati can accommodate your wishes, though you'll pay handsomely for it.
Crossing continents in comfort, while still being able to offer an incisive, enjoyable drive when you take the scenic route is a tough remit for any car. The Maserati does a fairly impressive job at fulfilling that difficult brief. Two things stand out against it though: the engine - unquestionably glorious when pushed - needs just that, pushing. To get the GranTurismo moving requires pretty dedicated use of the left hand paddle on the steering column to drop gears to find the revs it's so hungry for - it never feels as quick as its 5.2 second 0-62mph time suggests. A bit more torque lower in the rev-range would make it a more relaxing GT car. Thankfully the gearshift is quick and easy, Maserati choosing to fit the GranTurismo with a proper, smooth, six-speed automatic with manual control - rather than the clunky automated manual the company has used before.
Refinement is excellent though; on a cruise there's not much intrusion from the engine, and when it can be heard it's the sort of exotic Italian V8 blare you want to hear. Road and wind noise is kept in check too, the large tyres inevitably making a bit of noise when hitting sections of motorway surfaced in concrete. Motorways are where one of the other slight niggles in the GranTurismo's ability is revealed. Normally we wouldn't bemoan quick, feelsome steering, but welcome as that incisive turn-in and precision is when pushing down a challenging road, it results in a slightly nervous, fidgety experience when at high cruising speeds. The brakes would benefit from a bit more initial bite, too. Small criticisms on what's otherwise a fine-driving car.
Although the GranTurismo rides beautifully on its Skyhook variably active damping, you need to pay for it - at £1,721. The issue with the steering also might be a bit less obvious if you leave it on its standard 19-inch alloy wheels instead of choosing the (really rather beautiful) 20-inch Birdcage design wheels.
The boot isn't massive, though we're sure two determined golfers could get their bags in; if you're genuinely planning on using the GranTurismo as intended you might be advised to splash out on the optional fitted luggage for it.
It's worth pressing the Sport button too, as it sharpens up the throttle response and gearshift turning the GranTurismo into a more convincing sportscar when the mood to really drive it gets too much. Although it's got near perfect weight distribution (49% front, 51% rear) the predominant stance when pushed is understeer, particularly when it's damp.
Combined economy of 19.7mpg isn't turbodiesel rivalling by any stretch, but at least the fuel tank is large enough to allow you to make decent progress into a new continent before having to fill it up.
There's a 30Gb hard-drive jukebox audio system incorporating satnav, the operation of which is the same as found on Peugeots and Citroens. It's not much good in them, and even less so in an £80,000 car.
Maserati has always built beautiful cars, but they've so often fallen short when compared to their contemporaries on the road. The GranTurismo, like the Quattroporte saloon, clearly shows that Maserati is changing that. Not only is the GranTurismo a beautiful car inside and out, but it's an impressive all-round drive too - particularly when you consider its tough mixed brief. At last here's a Maserati that can be bought by more than just the heart, but we don't doubt that its looks will be the key motivator in the buying decision.