Maserati's Most Sexy : Maserati GranTurismo [review]
Thu, 12/27/2007 - 00:11 — admin
It would seem that Maserati have turned a corner of sorts, posting a slim but nonetheless significant € 1million profit in 2006, the first ever since they were acquired by the Fiat group since 1993. As if to commemorate this significant milestone Maserati conjures up the most stunning piece of automobile art in the form of the gorgeous GranTurismo coupe.
The latest offering from the Maserati stables is a masterstroke of design. Nothing quite prepares you for the surprise just how large and grand this GranTurismo is. It may look svelte in photos but it is a full sized coupe matching the coupes like the Mercedes CL or Bentley Continental GT.
Maserati also has worked hard to get the weight distribution to be just a bit more sporty biased with 51% on the rear, not quite the 53% they could get with a rear transaxle gearbox but remarkable nonetheless considering the gearbox is now mated to the engine directly in the front of the car ever since doing away with their famous transaxle design that housed the controversial DuoSelect transmission.
With a kerb weight of 1880-kg it is a large and relatively heavy car though lighter than the Merc CL or Bentley Continental GT. The performance is surprisingly quite competitive posting a 0-100 km/h time of 5.2 seconds making it a bit faster than the BMW 650i and CL500 both of which have bigger 5-litre V8 engines. Maserati goes one better and has decided not to electronically restrict its top speed to 250 km/h which now stands at an impressive 285 km/h thanks to its efficient aerodynamic shape cleaving the air with a Cd of 0.33.
Though slightly more leisurely in normal mode it is noticeably smoother too. It appears that Maserati will use this new automatic to replace the previous DuoSelect paddle-shift type transmission inherited from Ferrari as the autobox has all the functionality of the DuoSelect including manual shifting via the steering column mounted paddle shifts.
Its greatest advantage being a torque converter type autobox allows it to slur shift points till they are nearly imperceptible quite unlike the jerky progress made by the DuoSelect.
However at the firmest setting it is not jarring at all, in fact it is comfortable though over rippled tacmac it feels a bit knobbly. On most roads, Sport setting can be used all the time but with the optional Skyhook suspension, the normal damper rates give a softer ride at some expense to steering precision and body control.
Again in city driving one could just leave it on the default(Sport-off) setting and enjoy the added comfort. The standard suspension uses passive dampers and is calibrated to be close to the Sport type settings.
The choice of 10 colored Poltrona Frau leather against the two veneered wood or piano black inserts illuminated the interior. It is a far cry from the clinical sameness of the German competition. Here they have lifted the bar another notch over their competitors.
True the seats may not have a zillion ways to adjust them but it is easy to find a comfortable driving position thanks to the motorized rake and reach adjustable steering column.
The seating positions are so generous that for those of normal Asian build, seated so forward highlights two problems, first the window switches are located a little too far back so reaching them is awkward and secondly thanks to the huge door opening the B-pillar is far back so reaching for the seat belt is a bit of a stretch.
Other than that it is really a work of art and they have even acceded to include four cup holders, remarkable for an Italian whose idea of coffee is a tiny cup of delicious expresso, not the jumbo sized Starbucks sized cups and certainly not drunk on the go but at leisure in a proper restaurante.
The GranTurismo beggars belief as it completely ignores the 1880-kg it is carrying. It even feels more nimble than the GranSport. Of course one has to get used to the sheer size of this coupe but once on the move, there is nothing but enjoyment in store.
With a well-judged power assistance, the steering is direct and positive and as you press on it becomes obvious there is genuine front end grip allowing the GranTurismo to do your bidding. This remarkable composure is maintained right up to the limit where it displays mild understeer unless the tail is urged into oversteer under power or trailing throttle.
Only when accelerating or braking does the car’s mass begin to weigh in taxing the engine and the brakes. But the engine takes great delight in revving to the redline, singing as it blasts along.
The standard tyres are 19-inch P-Zero Rossos and they do deliver a good balance between ride and handling but the 20-inch option which might be standard fitment for our cars will be shod with the new P-Zero and those are truly amazing tyres delivering a level or performance and ride comfort never before attained by any performance tyre. Make sure you check this option box.
Over the tortuous mountain roads the large coupe never threatened to head for the other lane, so positive was the front wheels' turn-in and so obedient its rear end. As for the gearbox it is of course better to manually shift when faced with such arduous driving conditions as the gearbox does hunt for lower gears to gather enough torque to sling the GranTurismo through the corners.
Here it is acceptable to leave it in “D” as it delivers the correct gears during kickdown each time, making the most of its V8 power. Lesser traffic readily gives way as their rearview mirrors are filled with a view of the most aggressive looking intake grille in the automotive kingdom bearing down on them. But it could have been merely because were were in Italy and the natives were content to allow their latest ambassador to zoom by.
That it behaves impeccably as a town car and has the ability to zip up north at 285 km/h on occasion is enough to seal the sale. Being priced so competitively some will draw comparison with the 911 but it is really in a size class way above that. If you order yours now it will only be delivered by the end of 2008 if you are lucky. Jaw dropping, gorgeous looks with an Italian attitude, the GranTurismo is a real knockout.
ORIGINAL PRICE : $428,000 without COE