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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.

For all the motor industry’s changes, some things stay the same: fuel prices go up, some car makers make hay, others go to the wall.

And Maserati finds itself flitting cyclically between plodding and being on the fringe of a resurgence. This new GranTurismo aims to change that, to take the fight successfully to its established European rivals.

Few names are as evocative as Maserati, but the brand has suffered from a stuttering resurgence

Typically, a Maserati comeback would start with a fabulous-looking, desirable and enchanting coupé, and finish with disappointing dynamics, questionable durability, or a combination of the two.

Following on from the GranSport (and before that the 3200GT and the Coupé, which all followed the recent ‘resurgence? No’ tradition), there is now the GranTurismo.

It’s a coupé, again a V8, again styled by Pininfarina – only this time it’s a bit different. This car is not as stunted as the 3200GT and its successors. This is a full four-seater, a proper grand tourer.

What is still familiar about the GranTurismo, though, is that it’s powered by a V8 engine that revs to the other side of 7000rpm. That, if it manages to be as good as it looks, will guarantee Maserati has a nailed-on winner on its hands.

Not that has stopped Maserati pursuing breaking a habit of a lifetime creating firm foundations to build on, with a new Maserati Quattroporte, rebooted Maserati Ghibli and the newest addition to the Italian family - the Maserati Levante SUV.

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DESIGN & STYLING

Maserati GranTurismo rear

We usually put the ‘beholder’s eye’ caveat in this section when we talk about styling, but with the Maserati GranTurismo it hardly seems worth it.

We’ve yet to find someone who thinks Pininfarina has created anything other than a coupé that’s starkly beautiful from the tip of its 3500GT-inspired grille to, well, if not quite the back of its Mondeo-esque rear lights, then a point just before them.

The GranTurismo is big and ravishingly handsome - everything a GT should be

What’s equally striking about the Maserati when you see it in the metal is how large it is. This shouldn’t be surprising – this is supposed to be a four-seat coupé, after all. If you consider the GranTurismo’s most natural on-paper rival, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupé, you’ll find both are a similar size.

The GranTurismo is 4881mm long and, with mirrors, 2056mm wide. Both also share a connection with a large saloon. The S-Class Coupé is based on the Mercedes-Benz S-Class luxury car, while similarly the GranTurismo, beneath its rakish looks, owes rather a lot to the Maserati Quattroporte.

The GranTurismo is 170mm shorter than the Quattroporte overall, with 122mm of that coming out of the saloon’s wheelbase, but mechanically they’re very similar. The steel section frame and the suspension are largely the same; likewise the engine and transmission are from the Quattroporte automatic.

Four versions make up the GranTurismo range: GranTurismo, Sport, MC Stradale and MC Stradale Centiennal Edition; each with subtly different looks, although the it is the Stradales are the closest to resembling a race car. But even with bulging wings, intakes and skirts, the look is more Armani-suited gent than Imola diehard.

INTERIOR

Maserati GranTurismo interior

One benefit of Maserati using the Maserati Quattroporte to underpin the GranTurismo is that this is a decent-sized car inside. It rivals the Mercedes S-Class Coupé in its rear accommodation, and easily trumps a BMW 6 Series and a Jaguar XK.

The shapely roof means there’s not a great deal of headroom in the rear, but the twin chairs are inviting and the legroom is good. The boot, despite a shorter rear overhang than the saloon, is reasonable, too: it’ll hold the now obligatory pair of golf bags.

Good looking surroundings do not excuse the seating snafu - it should be GT priority number one

And while there are design similarities inside with the saloon, there are enough occupant-facing differences to make the GranTurismo feel like a unique model.

The steering wheel and console near the gearlever are the same, but the upper is the GranTurismo’s own. It’s a real shame then that the cheap-looking standard-fit radio is identical to the unit you’ll find in various Peugeots and Citroëns – not what you expect in an £80,000 Italian supercar.

It’s a good-looking cabin, though, with excellent stitching on the leather and it feels better built than previous Maserati coupés.

Perhaps the worst part of the GranTurismo’s cabin is the seats and seating position. The seats don’t offer enough support – vital in a grand tourer – and the steering wheel doesn’t extend far enough towards you. Trim, fit and finish in places lack finesse, too. Happily, the latest incarnation, the GranTurismo Sport has addressed these; chiefly the poor seating arrangment. With any luck these changes will filter to other models in the range.

As you would expect with four different models each one has an interior to reflect its nature. The entry-level GranTurismo is swathed in leather, with cubbyholes lined in Alcantara and a 7.0in touchscreen infotainment as standard and is fitted with a 4.2-litre V8 at the front. Choose the more athletic Sport, not only do you get Maserati's 4.7-litre V8 under the bonnet, but it has been given a going over to be more agile on the road and track. While inside the interior remains mainly the same as the standard car with a bit more Alcantara dotted about.

The range-topping MC Stradales aim to capture some of Maserati's successful racing history within the GranTurismo, so expected to find an aggressive-styled bodykit, rear diffuser and a carbon fibre bonnet fitted. The use of carbon fibre doesn't end there, with it used on the dashboard, paddle shifters and seat rears, while it is trimmed in Alcantara, giving the GranTurismo a racing edge. The Centianial variant is kitted out in a bespoke paint job and trim, while Maserati have given the standard GranTurismo MC Stradale a diet to make it more track focussed.

ENGINES & PERFORMANCE

Maserati GranTurismo cornering

Wound to the top of its rev range, the GranTurismo’s 4.2-litre V8 delivers a performance every bit as charismatic and spectacular as you’d expect. Against the clock, the Maserati passes 100mph in 13.0sec and the standing km in 25.3sec, marginally quicker than a Mercedes CL500, but fractionally slower than a Jaguar XKR.

It’s at less heroic speeds that the GranTurismo falters. The V8 needs every last revolution to generate its power, with the Jag and Merc hitting hardest some 1000rpm sooner. This peaky delivery is compounded by a 1975kg kerb weight, meaning that the GT struggles away from the startline.

Brief hesitation on the start line is quickly replaced by a goose pimply thunderstorm of eight cylinder savagery

The better option is the 4.7-litre GranTurismo Sport, which makes one of the most glorious noises in production. 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. Disengage Sport, however, and it’s refined and reserved. The 4.7-litre V8 makes 453bhp at 7000rpm and 383lb ft at 4750rpm, but is offered with a choice of tranmissions. The ZF automatic turns the Maser into a wonderful grand tourer; the harder-edged MC Shift robotised manual is cantankerous at low speeds but comes alive as the pace increases.

Buyers looking for a more focused driving experience are offered the GranTurismo MC Stradale, which has received attention from Maserati Corse, the company’s in-house motorsport department, and is the closest thing you’ll find to a GranTurismo GT3. Its 110kg lighter than the standard Sport and power is increased to 444bhp. It might have a surprisingly civilised long-distance gait, but the V8 emits a wonderfully brassy growl that‘s a long, long way from shy and retiring. It’s noisier and harder-edged still if you select Sport mode, when blips of the throttle seem shrill enough to shatter spectacles at close range.

RIDE & HANDLING

Maserati GranTurismo rear cornering

A standard Maserati GranTurismo has fixed-rate dampers, but our test car came fitted with the optional Skyhook suspension that adjusts automatically in response to driving style.

The driver can manually set the car to a firmer damper setting by pressing the Sport button, which also adjusts the throttle response and traction control settings. Although not an exact match, a standard car will behave similarly to a Skyhook-equipped car set to Sport, so only spend the money if you want additional comfort.

The GranTurismo is a revised steering rack away from real handling pedigree

We say this because, for the most part, the GranTurismo is impressively comfortable, the ride supple and a huge step forward over the jittery Quattroporte. By placing the engine and gearbox between the axles, Maserati has given the GranTurismo an agility that belies its mass.

Although in the extreme the big GT’s natural tendency is to understeer, at a more relaxed pace it adopts a neutral poise true to its sporting pedigree.

Once committed to a corner, the Maserati feels planted and alive with information. As a car to be driven briskly, and in which to mix progress with occasion, the GranTurismo is mission accomplished.

The steering, though, is a weak point. The accuracy is there, and there is moderate, inconsistent feel, but the weighting is all wrong. At parking speeds it is arguably too heavy, at 20-40mph just about right, but any faster and there is too much assistance.

MPG & RUNNING COSTS

Maserati GranTurismo

Reliability is an area where Maseratis have traditionally fared poorly, but the company reckons it has turned a corner, even having its eyes on good JD Power survey results with the GranTurismo.

Whatever the quality and durability, don’t expect a GranTurismo to be a cheap car to service or run, even if our overall test average mpg of 18.3 is reasonable for a car of this type.

The MC Stradale is tough to justify, but it does tweak the already brilliant noise up to a blistering 11

If previous Maseratis are anything to go by, it will also struggle to return good residuals. Values will be strong at first when demand is high, but don’t expect this to last. If you are going to sell a GranTurismo on the used market, be advised to do it quickly.

That said, it is priced between the Jaguar XKR and Aston Martin DB9, and it will almost certainly be more exclusive. The MC Stradale, however, weighs too much and produces too little power to be considered alongside the most specialised performance cars you can buy for £110,000.

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VERDICT

4 star Maserati GranTurismo

Even stationary, the GranTurismo embodies the romanticism and excitement of a Maserati. The interior marks a step forward for the brand, and on the move the GT continues the company’s renaissance, with a genuinely sporting balance and a high-revving V8 rich in character.

Next to the old Coupé – or even the Maserati Quattroporte – the GT is a much more accomplished product, asking far fewer compromises of its keeper, particularly in ride comfort.

The critical ingredient in this segment is desirability, and despite the niggles, the GranTurismo is not short of that commodity

That Maserati has got so many of the basics right makes the remaining few failings all the more frustrating. How difficult could it have been to get the seating position right, for example, or to fix the odd trim issue, or perfect the adjustable damping?

More complex, and thus more forgivable, is that just occasionally we wish the GT had a bit more guts and glory, and hit a little harder.

While we can’t ignore these teething troubles in our overall rating, we would be the first to admit the GranTurismo remains a truly desirable car. For the first time in a long time, you no longer need make excuses to buy and run a Maserati.

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Maserati GranTurismo 2007-2019 First drives