Hugely appealing, but more for its aesthetic qualities than dynamic ability

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.

Back to top

We've said previously that the GranTurismo, even with the larger 4.7-litre engine, is brisk rather than seriously rapid. It's not that 443bhp and 361lb ft aren’t enough; it's more to do with where those figures are produced – north of 4000rpm – and the weight they have to move.

And so it is with the even heavier GranCabrio. If you want to press on you really need to work the engine – which is okay if you’re in the mood, but the Maserati lacks the effortless roll-on performance of the Jaguar XKR. The compensation is that it sounds sensational, even more so in Sport mode.

Should I buy one?

If you like the way it looks – and who wouldn’t? – and have the necessary £100,000, beyond the tiny boot there is very little reason not to. Not because the GranCabrio is perfect, but because really it has so few competitors.

Astons and Bentleys are more expensive, BMWs and Mercs probably don’t hold the same appeal, and the Jag XKR has nowhere near the same interior space. It could do with being faster and lighter, but for those attracted by its sensational styling, we suspect neither will be a deal breaker.

Jamie Corstorphine

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MattDB 22 February 2010

Re: Maserati GranCabrio 4.7 V8

Mibi wrote:
While I appreciate that it's traditional to bash Maserati's residual values, Glass's Guide doesn't seem to agree. According to their website, GranTurismo values are top of the tree, which should bode well for the Cabrio.

The Maserati is rare relative to its rivals. If they could sell more they would, but they don't build cars for stock so never have an oversupply problem and thus can protect the residuals. If you want one, you either cough up or have a long wait. They also have the novelty of being the only cars made by Maserati where you don't need to kidnap the machanic and keep him hostage in the boot!

MattDB 22 February 2010

Re: Maserati GranCabrio 4.7 V8

It is elegant, but it is too heavy to be sporty and I am afraid, the all alloy Jaguar XK shows it the way for performance and price. Not only that, but the XK is just a good looking. Maserati didn't need to make a full 4 seat cabrio as no one would ever travel in the back at speed as they would be blown to bits, and all this so called romantic nonsence about cruising to the south of France is twaddle as anyone who can afford a car like this would simply fly there and hire a Ferrari to use whilst in town.

The interior of the Maserati is a let down as the buttons and switches look a bit Fiat. Nothing wrong with that in a car range that tops out below £30k but for circa £100k it looks rubbish.

In a nutshell, the new E Class cabrio will do it better, especially with the 500 V8 being faster and more economical. Shame the Merc is not as pretty but still very desireable.

Zeddy 20 February 2010

Re: Maserati GranCabrio 4.7 V8

I can't wait for big grills to go out of fashion. It spoils the car (and many others, AUDI).