What is it?
A drop-top version of the Maserati GranTurismo, imaginatively named the GranCabrio. While the coupe is available in three versions, mixing 4.2 and 4.7-litre V8s with either an automatic or six-speed automated manual, there is just one convertible: a 4.7-litre automatic.
This combination is hardly surprising because, like most open-top conversions, structural reinforcements mean the GranCabrio is heavier than the fixed-head, which would leave the smaller engine struggling. And a proper automatic is better suited to the GranCabrio’s softer remit.
What makes the GranCabrio interesting is that it is being billed as a proper four-seat convertible, rather than a 2+2 like Jaguar’s XK and the Porsche 911. Until the new E-class convertible arrives later this year, the only other true luxury four-seat drop-top is the vastly more expensive Bentley Continental GTC. And even then, the Maserati is longer.
What’s it like?
Probably the most important single element that convertibles need to get right is styling, which the GranCabrio absolutely nails. You can come to your own conclusions, but personally I think it looks absolutely stunning. And that’s with the roof up or down, which is no small achievement with such a large canopy. As you would expect for price, the fabric roof is fully automatic, taking 28sec to raise or lower, and can be operated on the move at slow speeds.
The forward cabin is practically identical to that of the coupe, mixing upmarket materials with an appealing design. For the most part it is a success, although there are one or two ergonomic slip-ups. Most relevant of which are the less than perfectly comfortable seats. In the rear, as with the coupe, there are two individual seats, but these have been moved inwards by 42mm and raised by 40mm to make room for the roof mechanism .
Maserati claims that there has been no movement forward. While it is true that the GranCabrio will sit four full-sized adults, those in the back won’t be grateful for prolonged journeys. There is just about enough leg room, although taller passengers need to adopt a splayed leg position, but head room with the roof raised is tight.
Refinement with the roof up is generally good, with just a little wind whistle from the rear of the roof. Top-down buffeting is minimal too, but the raised rear seats are less protected. However, it is not refinement or accommodation that limits the CranCabrio’s four-up touring credentials, but luggage space. Such is the invasion of the roof and an additional torsion wall that the boot shrinks to a pathetic 173 litres.
The fact that the GranCabrio is not hugely different from the GranTurismo to drive is testament to the work Maserati has put in to ensure that structural rigidity isn’t excessively compromised. It also has rather a lot to do with the fact that the coupe isn’t exactly a nimble sports car in the first place.
Overall balance is good, as is grip, but the GranCabrio always feels a heavy car – which, at nearly two tonnes, it is. Maserati’s adaptive Skyhook suspension is standard and does a reasonable job of providing enough compliance to ensure that big bumps don’t upset comfort, as well as adequate agility. While body flex is actually pretty minimal, the GranCabrio is not immune to shimmy and shake over shorter, sharper intrusions, but no more so than any other large convertible.