The Maserati Granturismo has underlying brilliance, marred by frustrating niggles. But it’s the first Maser for an age that you don’t need excuses to buy.
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What is it?
A Maserati that we’re promised is “as sporting as possible within the territory of the GranTurismo,” according to Roberto Ronchi, CEO of Maserati.
Over the regular GranTurismo, it gains a 4.7-litre 433bhp V8 (up from 4.2-litres and 399bhp), a six-speed robotised manual gearbox (rather than an auto), 20-inch alloys (up an inch), styling modifications, a thicker rear anti-roll bar and 10 percent stiffer springs and dampers.
What’s it like?
At first, not great. The GranTurismo S’s seats share their structure with the standard car’s, so they’re unsupportive despite new upholstery. The steering wheel doesn’t extend far enough towards you and its weighting around straight-ahead is far too light. Trim fit and finish in places lacks finesse too - and the ride is unsettled.
Early upsides? The S’s robotised gearbox, with longer paddles than on the 4.2, shifts smoothly enough, and the 4.7-litre engine makes one of the most glorious noises in production.
But it’s worth spending time getting to know the S because it’s far from bad. As far from bad as any Maserati in recent memory, in fact.
Yes, that slightly nuggety ride never leaves you, but on harsher, more demanding roads the S’s body control proves excellent on its regular springs (‘Skyhook’ variable dampers are an option we’d leave alone). The steering, which is too quick around the straight-ahead, gains heft and feel as you apply some lock.
On its 35-profile tyres, the S turns-in more keenly than the 4.2 and, though there’s reasonable lean, there’s also commendable grip and traction. And, at the limit, a neat, progressive breakaway for something so large. It’s more entertaining than a BMW M6 – if not a Porsche 911 S.
Then there’s that wonderful engine. The wet-sumped V8 revs to 7500rpm with the kind of crispness and zing that comes only from Modena. With ‘Sport’ button engaged it’s loud and visceral and, off-throttle it fizzes, pops and braps. Which is, officially, a giggle. It now has just the right amount of poke, too. Disengage Sport, meanwhile, and it’s refined and reserved. Don’t forget, this car’s a full four-seater.
Gearshifts are pretty good in auto mode and you can pre-empt and encourage them with your throttle position. In manual mode they feel slowish, unless you engage the full ‘MC Sport’ mode, which sharpens reaction times at higher engine speeds.
Should I buy one?
If you’re thinking about a GranTurismo, you’re probably prepared to overlook some of the flaws that a Mercedes CL or Porsche 911 driver wouldn’t accept. So once you’ve got that far, then this is definitely the variant to go for.
But the GranTurismo S’s annoyances get easier to overlook the longer you spend driving it. Then there’s the adequate recompense provided by the looks and the noise – which most drivers would never grow tired of.