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More fun than the standard GranTurismo, but still suffering from the same flaws

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.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior
Title: Editor-at-large

Matt is Autocar’s lead features writer and presenter, is the main face of Autocar’s YouTube channel, presents the My Week In Cars podcast and has written his weekly column, Tester’s Notes, since 2013.

Matt is an automotive engineer who has been writing and talking about cars since 1997. He joined Autocar in 2005 as deputy road test editor, prior to which he was road test editor and world rally editor for Channel 4’s automotive website, 4Car. 

Into all things engineering and automotive from any era, Matt is as comfortable regularly contributing to sibling titles Move Electric and Classic & Sports Car as he is writing for Autocar. He has a racing licence, and some malfunctioning classic cars and motorbikes. 

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6th.replicant 23 May 2008

Re: Maserati GranTurismo S

Curious, the Quattroporte, by all accounts, seems to have fine steering/handling/grip/ride. Yet, once again, a Maser coupe - which could be perceived as a Fezza rival, while the Quattroporte clearly is not - seems to have a flawed/compromised chassis, rather like the 4200 & its derivatives. I once drove a 4200 & it felt like the chassis/steering setup was unfinished, as if the chief engineer said, 'OK, that's enough, stop working on it, now.' It's almost as if there's a corporate decree that Maser coupes should not seem to match any Fezzas' grip/handling/ride. If it is indeed a case of protecting against in-house sales rivalry, why not simply give Maser coupes a well-resolved ride/handling setup, albeit 'softer' & with less ultimate grip than any Fezza's?

Beowolf 15 May 2008

Re: Maserati GranTurismo S

These look blindingly fantastic on the road, whether standard or in 'S' mode. Not sure in white though. Pulled up by an owner parking one. Had a quick chat. He wasn't as impressed as he should have been, was the impression he gave. Stunning looks, not quite the easy-to-live-with day-to-day proposition it should be, not just yet...

As stunning for a proper 2+2 as the Vantage is for a 2 seater. Sorry, but just sitting here thinking about them makes me glaze over the way you do when staring at a painting. True art. Nice to see it on the roads as well as the galleries.